Know what’s the worst? When you’re on the way to an important event — car show, birth of a child, stuff like that — and your ride breaks. Maybe an airline was rubbed the wrong way or it’s as simple as a flat tire, but something is wrong and now you’re stuck on the side of the road. What do you do? We’ve got a few ideas.
Prepare yourself before the big break happens.
It always helps to have a plan. And when it comes to custom cars and trucks, being prepared for something bad happening is always a good thing.
Case in point: One of our customers had shaved door handles on their car and a huge sliding ragtop. When the door solenoid refused to pop, he found himself stuck in front of an In-N-Out burger with no way to get into his ride. The solution? He hopped up, pulled himself over the roof and somersaulted into the back seat. It was in no way graceful.
But other problems happen, too. Air lines burst. Bags blow. Compressors stop doing their job. And so if you have a solution to many of these problems beforehand, you’ll be good. That’s why you need a toolkit.
Find a small tool box or bin that you can either put in your trunk or behind a seat in your truck. It should have some of the essentials for your particular vehicle. For example, that guy with the slider had hydraulics on his car, so he carried a spare seal set for the cylinders, wrenches for all the sizes he typically needed, a jack, tire iron, wheel lock key, a 15-foot hydraulic line and some zip ties. But we’ve put together kits on our own vehicles with airbags and they’re a bit different. Typically they’ll have a spare bag, some air line, line cutters, two crescent wrenches, teflon tape or line sealant, a jack, tire iron, wheel lock key, and a few fittings. It’s not quite everything you’ll need in an emergency, but it’s close.
Think about all of the stuff you need for your car or truck and what you’d be likely to see happen. Then prepare for those things and keep them in a kit. And that's how you’ll be prepared.
Oh, but what would we have suggested for that customer with the door handle problem? Either make sure they put solenoids on the other doors and/or trunk and wire them up separately, or keep a 12-volt battery handy so he could jump the wires on an outside switch if necessary (and emergency pull handle isn't a bad idea, either).
If you’re not prepared, get ready to wait.
Obviously you can’t prepare for everything. And in those situations, you should expect to sit for a while until help can arrive. In the meantime though, you should do a few things just in case.
First, get your ride off the road. If you’re on a freeway, pull onto the side so you’re out of the lanes of traffic. If it’s a major road, try to get to a side street. You won’t always have the ability to do either, but do what you can to make it happen. Safety first and all that.
Second, assess the problem. If you don’t have the tools or ability to fix it, now you have to figure out how to get it back to someone who can. Will it get onto a tow truck? If so, call one, and make sure the vehicle is ready to go when they get there. If it can’t be towed, then see if you can find someone that can fix it where it sits. Even if it’s just enough to limp it to the shop, it’s something, and every little bit helps.
Finally, if all else fails, make sure that you and your truck are secured somewhere safe. If it’s raining and it doesn’t make sense to drop a jack underneath the thing, or you just don’t feel like it’s a good idea to fix it at that moment, lock it up and take an Uber or Lyft home. Then you can solve the problem the following day when things are a bit more calm.
At the end of the day, your safety is the important part. Your vehicle could be totalled and your day ruined, but as long as you’re physically fine, it’ll all work out. Cars can be rebuilt. You, not so much.