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What to do in an emergency situation.

A modern automobile is an incredible, almost unbelievable, collection of high tech electronics connected together to provide a safe comfortable ride a various conditions.

The engineering of getting all these components to work together with dependability in a hostile environment amazes me daily.

Most vehicle manufacturers have over 500 different companies that provide the parts to make up a complete vehicle.


Problems do happen and I want to give incite here to make sure the correct procedures are followed in case of emergencies.

When something happens out of the ordinary, the first thing to remember is to stay calm and not panic. With a plan and thoughtful pre-planning, it may bypass panic. In panic mode, many people just freeze, not knowing what to do. Read this carefully and remember what to do.

If the engine dies while driving, two driver’s controls will change. The first is you will lose power steering but all steering controls will still work. The difference is that much more effort will be required to steer the car. Grasp the steering wheel with both hands and carefully more the vehicle over to the side of the road.

The other control that will be greatly affected is brakes. After the engine dies, most vehicles have 2-3 power assisted pedal pumps saved in the power assist unit of the brakes. After that, the brake pedal will harden but the brakes will still work. The key here is they will require much more pressure to stop the car. Push the pedal harder and the vehicle will still stop.

Another emergency situation that has been known to happen is the throttle pedal sticks in open throttle position, causing the vehicle to unintentionally accelerate. In this situation, the ignition key needs to be turned off and the vehicle pulled over to the side of the road. Keep in mind, the procedures outlined above when the engine dies need to be followed. One of the great objections to overcome is keyless ignition systems. That large button needs to be held down for 2-4 seconds before the engine will turn off.

The third and much more common experience to happen is an animal the runs out in front of the vehicle. I’m mostly thinking of deer but can include any animal.

The first thing to do is to brake hard while looking where you want to go, not at the animal. Looking on the road behind the animal is the best plan here. So many people will swerve to avoid the animal, causing them to go into the other lane or go off the road, both not good choices. Staying calm, not going into the panic or freeze mode is very important here. Always look where you want to go, never where you don’t want to go. Countless crashes have happened by people looking at what they don’t want to hit and guiding the vehicle right to what they want to avoid.

Pre-planning what procedures to do in the above situations will help prevent panic and give good ideas that may prevent a crash.

The expensive check engine light.

We had a vehicle that came into the shop last month with a check engine light on. In interviewing that customer, it was revealed that the light had been on for some time. Money, fear of the unknown and lack of time was the reason for the procrastination. The car was running very poorly by now, engine shaking and very little power.

The first order of business was to hook up the scanner to find what codes had been stored. The list was very long filled with mostly engine misfire codes. Misfire codes are an insight that the air/fuel mixture is not being efficiently fired in engine. When this happens, extra fuel enters the exhaust system into a device called the catalytic converter. The catalytic converter’s job is to convert harmful engine exhaust by-products into less harmful by-products. In a nutshell, they clean up the air so we all can breathe better.

The over whelming amount of raw fuel entering the catalytic converters had over worked them to the extent they actually had a meltdown. In this melt down, the honey comb passage ways through the catalytic converter had closed off not allowing the engine to breath. This was one of the major reasons the vehicle had lack of power.

This vehicle has two catalytic converters, each one costing over $1000. Wow, over $2000 for just parts in this procrastination example of how not to make good use of you money. OK, the kind way of saying throwing your money away.

The moral of this story is that most times, procrastination of need repairs or maintenance of your vehicle is going to cost you more money in the short run. Take the time and money to keep your vehicle in top repair, the pay back is just a great investment.

Questions or comments are more than welcome. Email me at [email protected]