|Tow-truck driver pushes my car towards a tow truck in Norwalk, Calif.|
I imagined music blasting from my car’s speakers and wind blowing in my hair during my first solo road trip, not smoke bellowing from the vehicle’s hood and tears pouring down my face. However, the latter happened thanks to my car breaking down on the way home to Monterey, Calif., from San Diego.
It took a few days and hundreds of dollars to get the car fixed and back on the road. However, the process could have taken much longer and cost more money if I didn’t have the following:
1-A mechanic I trust. Granted, it’s hard finding such a gem. But once I did, I took my car to a mechanic in Monterey for an oil change before heading out on my road trip. I’m glad I did. The mechanic noticed that in addition to needing an oil change, my car needed oil and coolant leaks repaired. If he didn’t inspect my car and point out these problems, I doubt my car would have made it down to San Diego, where I was scheduled to attend a conference.
2-Roadside assistance. When my car broke down on the journey back home to Monterey, I called USAA Roadside Assistance, which arranged for a tow truck driver to pick me and my vehicle up and drop us off at a nearby vehicle-repair shop. The tow was free. And, that was one less phone call and bill I had to worry about.
3-My own “Car Talk.” Sure, I could have tried calling “Car Talk,” a show on National Public Radio where the hosts help listeners solve their car troubles. But, I already had car gurus in my circle of family and friends. As a result, I knew who to call for advice when my car broke down: my dad and the mechanic in Monterey. Sensing that I was overwhelmed, my father told me to save the tears for later and develop an action plan. When it seemed like the car dealership tasked with fixing my automobile was taking it's sweet time to finish the repairs, my dad recommended that I call the car company’s customer service center to speed things along. And, when the dealership told this car novice what repairs my car needed, I ran them by my dad and the mechanic in Monterey to see if the repairs were really necessary or just an attempt to nickel and dime me.
Has your car ever broken down on a road trip?