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DIY Emergency Roadside Repair

Years ago, breaking down on the side of the road meant hiking to the nearest gas station or waiting for a friendly fellow driver to stop and offer assistance. Modern communications have certainly made life easier, but they are not foolproof. Although most people have cell phones nowadays, there are still plenty of places in the country that do not get great reception. This can be a problem if you are planning on driving cross-country or hitting the open road. Even if you manage to get a call through, the cost of a towing service can leave your wallet several hundred dollars lighter.

Fortunately, with a little knowledge and a few tools, you can handle your own emergency roadside repair. Below are some of the most common car problems and relatively easy fixes.

Smashed or Broken Windows

If you have ever driven behind a tractor-trailer on the highway, you probably know that flying rocks can come at you fast and furious. In most cases, there is little time to avoid these tiny but powerful missiles. Broken side windows are also an unfortunate side-effect of minor fender benders. If you are far from home or can’t afford an immediate repair, there is a quick way to temporarily remedy a broken window. Gather some duct tape and a plastic bag. Thicker trash bags are ideal for covering open windows. Simply cut the bag around the window, leaving a little extra width around the edges. Tape down the edges while holding the bag taut against the window frame, as a tighter fit will reduce wind noise.

Blown Radiator Hose

A blown radiator hose usually means an automatic trip to the mechanic. If it fails near the end, however, you can cut away the broken end and reattach fresh, new length. You can also try patching a hole in the middle of a hose by wrapping special silicone tape around the damaged portion. Before you attempt repairs, make sure the engine is cool and the hose is not hot. You should also refill your radiator with a half and half mixture of water and antifreeze before driving.

Dangling Exhaust Pipe

In romance, flying sparks generally mean a good thing. In the world of exhaust pipes, however, sparks mean trouble. In most vehicles, the exhaust is actually attached to the underside of the car with clips that are prone to rusting and general wear and tear. If your exhaust hangers break, you can use wire to fashion replacements.

Stubborn Lug Nuts

Flat tires are the bane of every vacationer’s existence. If you usually have a mechanic or quick-change oil place rotate your tires, you might find that the lug nuts are impossibly tight. This is because professionals generally use high-powered impact wrenches. When changing a tire on the open road, try positioning the lug wrench to the left of the tire and exactly level with the ground below. From there, stand on the lug wrench and use your body weight to loosen the lug nut.

In addition to the tips above, it is a good idea to carry a basic tool kit in your vehicle at all times. You never know when you will need to make a quick, temporary repair.

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