It is important to keep your vehicle working properly. If your vehicle breaks down while you are driving, it can be dangerous as well as inconvenient.

If your vehicle is having mechanical problems that require you to stop, remember the following for your safety:

  • Change lanes safely and park in a safe location, if possible.
  • Do not stop on a bridge or in a tunnel. This can be very dangerous.
  • If the vehicle is left in a potentially dangerous location, turn on your hazard lights (4-way flashers).
  • Raise your hood.
  • Carry reflective triangles. On the highway or in a location that is potentially dangerous, when it is safe, place them to the rear of your vehicle, about 10 to 20 metres (33 to 66 feet) apart.
  • Do not try to do roadside repairs on crowded or fast-moving highways.
  • If it is a potentially dangerous situation, have all occupants leave the vehicle and wait at a safe location to the rear and away from the vehicle, as shown in the diagram.

If a motorist stops to offer help, you could ask them to call for assistance.

Move away from the vehicle while waiting for help.

Move away from the vehicle while waiting for help.

Brake failure

Most vehicles come with a brake system that will protect you against a total failure of your brakes. A warning light on your instrument panel will light if there is a problem. It should light before your brakes stop working. When you see the brake warning light come on, and you have checked that the park brake has been released, move to the side of the road as soon as it is safe.

If you have a vehicle with power brakes, the power system could fail. This may occur if your engine stops while you are still moving. If the vehicle does not slow with normal pressure on the brake, push the brake pedal harder and apply steady pressure.

If your brakes fail, and your wheels are not turned, carefully use your park brake to slow your vehicle. You may be able to shift to a lower gear to bring your vehicle to a safe and controlled stop. Check your vehicle's owner's manual for more information.

Park your vehicle in a safe location. Do not drive until the brakes have been checked and repaired properly.

Power steering failure

If your power steering fails, you can still steer the vehicle. You will have to use extra effort to turn the steering wheel.

Tire failure

If a tire has an air leak you may feel, through the steering wheel, the vehicle begin to pull and a vibration as you hold the steering wheel. If this air leak is not corrected soon, the tire will become flat. When a front tire is flat, the vehicle will pull strongly to the side that has the flat tire. A flat rear tire may make your vehicle weave. You may find it hard to steer.

If a tire goes flat while you are driving, the following tips will help:

  • Resist the urge to immediately apply the brakes.
  • Take your foot off the gas pedal and allow the engine to slow you down.
  • Hold the steering wheel with a firm grip. Keep the vehicle on a straight course by looking and steering in the direction you want to go.
  • When you have the vehicle under control and speed is reduced, apply the brake with gentle and steady pressure.
  • Safely move to the emergency stopping lane or edge of the road and park in a safe place.
  • Turn on your hazard warning lights.

Headlight failure

If both headlights fail, do the following:

  • Turn on your hazard lights.
  • Turn the headlight control off and on.
  • If the headlights are still not on, reduce your speed, safely move to the emergency stopping lane or edge of the road, and park in a safe place.

Note: Replace a headlight or headlight bulb as soon as it burns out. Driving with only one headlight increases the risk of being without both headlights.