Roadside Fixes to Get You Back on Your Way

It’s inevitable. Cars break down. And when they do, it’s usually at the worst possible moment. While many breakdowns will require a tow truck and can only be repaired at a qualified shop, some can be remedied with a small repair on the roadside if you are equipped to do so.


First, familiarize yourself with your vehicle before it breaks down. Know where the spare is, how to get the jack and tire iron out and how to use them. If you have wheel locks, know where the wheel lock key is. Changing a flat tire is one of the most fundamental repairs that one can do to get back rolling. Even if your vehicle has large oversized tires, replacing a flat tire with a spare can be done safely if precautions are taken. Make sure your vehicle is parked on flat level ground before getting the jack under it. When jacking the vehicle up, don’t lift it higher than you need to. You will have to lift it high enough to get the flat tire out, and the full spare under it. Going higher than that could make the vehicle shift and unstable. Make sure to tighten the lug nuts in a star pattern in order to get a consistent tightness on the wheel assembly.

Breaking Murphy’s Law

Some basic hand tools in a repair kit kept in the trunk of your vehicle may get you back on the road quickly so you can get your vehicle serviced on your schedule, not at the mercy of Murphy’s Law. Even quick roadside repairs are inevitably dirty, so it’s a good idea to have some gloves or other protective coverings on hand in the event your vehicle would break down.

Toolin’ Around

In your hand tools, a Leatherman or multi-tool is a great tool to have. Most of them have needle hose pliers, at least one knife blade, screwdrivers and other useful tools to get you back on the road. Some breakdowns are caused by something as simple as a loose connection, clamp or fitting. By identifying the problem and using some hand tools to tighten the offending part, you could remedy the problem yourself with the spin of one tool.

Call a Tow Truck

Sometimes it’s best to recognize when you are in over your head and call a tow company. Some services will bring you fuel or do minor fixes, and others will come to your location nearly regardless of conditions outside. For getting your 4×4 out of that gutter, consider a company like Mike’s Auto and Towing that specializes in difficult recoveries.

Release Your Inner MacGyver

For those old enough to remember MacGyver, he had a fix for everything—and most of it involved duct tape. There’s a good reason for that. It’s durable, flexible, and under the right conditions, can make a near water-tight seal. A blown radiator hose once cleaned up a bit and allowed to cool can be fixed temporarily with a couple rounds of duct tape just to get you to a shop for a permanent repair. If the hose is broken close to the clamp, it may be possible to remove the clamp, cut off the damaged portion and put the hose back on with the clamp moved further up the hose. This only works if there hose has enough length. Again, this is a temporary fix.


Sometimes, the repair is just too much to do on the side of the road. Times like these, sometimes the best tool to have in your toolbox is a cell phone and the number to a reputable towing service.

Anica Oaks

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