What If My Car Breaks Down?

No one likes the idea of their car breaking down while on the road. However, people with driving anxiety may fear this even more than most do.

Car Breakdown

This article will talk about the reality of experiencing mechanical problems while you are driving and the fear that can overtake you when you break down on the road.

At one time or another, we are bound to have a mechanical issue while driving. This can be a scary experience, especially if you already experience another type of driving phobia.

You may think to yourself “What do I do if my car breaks down while I am driving it?” Depending on the issue, it can be very scary indeed.

For myself, and others who I have spoken to whom experience the same fear, the top things that people are afraid of having happen while driving their car are:

  • Flat/Blown Tire
  • Brake Failure
  • Engine Stops While on the Road
  • Dash Lights Coming On (Unsure of Issue)

Flat tires may sound like no big deal to most people but to those who have the fear of car breaking down, a flat tire can raise your panic levels through the roof. Why is this strong fear?

‣ Fear of not being able to change the tire

‣ Fear of having the tire blow while traveling at a high speed and getting into an accident

‣Fear of not being able to get your car off the road and being it the line of moving traffic

Break failure was the second most common fear among the people I spoke with. What drives this fear?

  • Not being able to stop without crashing
  • Not being able to work the emergency break
  • Loosing total control of the car

The third most common fear was a dying engine. If the engine dies the car stops and then what do you? The top reasons listed for this fear are:

  • Car stopping in the middle of heavy traffic and causing an accident
  • Car dying at a stop light and impeding traffic
  • Car dying on a dark and empty road with no assistance

Finally, and this is the greatest fear for me, is lights coming on in the dash panel.

This includes the check engine light as well as various other warning signals that tell you that there is something not right with your car.

This causes great panic in some, especially when you have other panic related disorders.

Why? Because it brings on all the other fears listed above. If a light comes on and you are unsure of what it means all sorts of thing can run through your mind.

  • Is this safe to drive?
  • If I continue to drive will I break down?
  • Will my engine blow up?
  • Are my breaks ok to drive on until I can get them checked?

All the things listed above are valid concerns but when they turn into full blown fears you may need some help to overcome them in order to be able to drive with less panic and more freedom.


Learning BooksEducate Yourself

If any of the above scares you, then you should educate yourself.

Take some classes or read some books that will help you to learn safety procedures in case your car was to break down on the road.

Study your car’s manual so you know what each light means and what the causes for it coming on are.

This can help to alleviate the fear when a light does come on and allow you to make an informed decision about the safety of driving it.

Also try reading a book about what you should do if your tire goes flat or your engine dies while in traffic. Knowledge if power!

Become A Novice Mechanic

Take a beginner course on mechanics. This will include how to change a flat tire.

If you understand how to do basic fix-it work on your car you are empowered to be able to handle such situations yourself with less fear.

Calming Exercises

Learn how to relax! That weird sound you heard may not be anything dangerous. (Of course if you feel that there is something wrong you should have it checked, but don’t borrow trouble.)

Try to refocus your attention from the noise and onto something else. This can be done through simple breathing exercises, calming music or even counting in your head or aloud.


If you cannot seem to get a grip on your anxiety then maybe a therapist could be useful to you. There may be an underlying reason for these fears and a therapist could help you to uncover these reasons.

Sometimes just talking about your fears aloud is helpful. Many times, once you say what you are afraid of out loud, it does not seem so bad anymore.

There are many people with this type of fear so chances are, you can find a support group where you can talk about things. Leaning on others who have the same problem can be cathartic as well.

Self Help Techniques

Take matters into your own hands with self-help methods.

Driving Fear ebookThis can range from simply reading a book on conquering your fears to getting a full-blown program.

One such program that has had wonderful results is called the The Original Driving Fear Program.

This program covers not only what you are fearful of, but all driving anxieties as a whole and it can go where you go.

This means if you are on the road and feel anxiety coming on over check engine light coming on, you can just pop in the self help CD and listen along while you drive to your mechanic.

While your fears are valid, becoming so anxious that driving becomes a dreaded task is not rational. Seek the help you need to overcome your fears and then the road will belong to you!