Realizing your car is running on empty can be a very frightening experience. Just hearing the sputtering sound of your engine as it starts to shut down might be enough to set you into panic mode. But how you react at that moment is critical to keeping you and your passengers safe. Learn what to do if you run out of gas by considering the following five tips.
#1. Take a Deep Breath.
Panicking is never helpful in any situation, especially when you’re behind the wheel. So as soon as you notice something’s wrong with your vehicle, take a deep breath and evaluate your surroundings. Think about your location and how close you are to oncoming traffic. What you do next will depend on where you are and if you can get off the road safely. However, do not try to keep going. The last thing you want is for your car to stall in the middle of traffic, especially if you are in less-than-ideal weather conditions.
#2. Pull Over to a Safe Place.
Moving to the breakdown lane or a parking lot is critical to ensuring your safety when your car is inoperable. If possible, engage your right turn signal and pull over to the side of the road. The most secure spot will be free from traffic where you can avoid being hit by another motorist.
#3. Park It and Turn On Your Hazards.
Once you’re safely out of traffic, park your vehicle and turn on your hazard lights. The blinking lights will alert others that something is wrong, and they should approach your car with caution. This is especially important when you break down on the road and cannot move out of the way. Warning triangles or road flares can also be extremely helpful in this situation to help alert motorists of your vehicle when it’s dark or difficult to see.
#4. Determine Your Location.
The development of smartphone technology has simplified travel, making it easy to calculate exact locations in real-time. In an emergency, you can use your phone’s GPS or other mapping services to quickly identify your surroundings, including your location and distance to nearby establishments. However, when you can’t pinpoint where you are or are unfamiliar with your surroundings, the best thing you can do is stay in your car, turn on your hazards, and lock the door. Until you figure out what to do next, you will want to remain in a safe space.
#5. Evaluate What to Do Next.
You’ll need to consider a few factors as you determine the best way to handle your situation. But the most straightforward solution will likely be using your roadside assistance services if you have them. Many extended warranty providers like Endurance and CarShield include gas delivery with 24/7 roadside protection coverage. AAA also delivers fuel to its members, supplying enough to get to the nearest gas station. Pending this isn’t an option for you, your next steps might be:
- Calling someone for help: If you break down close to home, contacting a friend or family could help quickly resolve your problem. Whether the person brings you gas or takes you to the gas station to fill up a container, asking someone you trust for help could get you back on the road fast.
- Flagging down another driver: While this may not be the best solution for everyone, getting the attention of another driver for help is an option. If you choose this alternative, stay close to your car but away from oncoming traffic. And if you have an emergency kit, place a few triangle reflectors or flares near the vehicle. This will help keep you visible and alert other drivers of your emergency as they approach you.
- Walking to the nearest gas station: Walking to get gas might be feasible if you can locate a gas station nearby and get to it safely. But putting yourself in danger should never be an option. Only choose this option if you feel confident reaching your destination on foot.
- Dialing 911: Sometimes, the best solution during an emergency is to contact law enforcement for help. When you aren’t sure where you are or don’t feel secure flagging someone down or exiting your vehicle, waiting for a professional could be the wisest choice.
Be Prepared Before an Emergency Occurs
No one plans to run out of gas while traveling, but sometimes it happens. Maybe you don’t realize how you are to “E” or can’t afford to fill up because of higher-than-average gas prices. Whatever the reason, investing in a comprehensive extended auto warranty can help. With the right provider, you can feel confident knowing you’re covered in an emergency, whether you need on-site roadside assistance like fuel delivery or a tow to a repair facility.