Dealing with Car Failure on the Side of a Road

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    How Long Can You leave a Broken Down Car on the Side of the Road?

    Do you live in Maryland, Washington, DC or Northern Virginia?

    If so, it is essential to know the rules of the road no matter what situation you find yourself in. Car Failures happens to almost all of us at least once in life.

    woman on a road. broken car.

    Today we are going to explore what happens when you leave your disabled vehicle on the side of interstate 270 or 495.

    We spoke with Montgomery County Officer McDonna just to make sure we had all the correct details to guide you on your way. 

    So what actually happens when you leave your vehicle on the side of the interstate?

    The Process:

    If your vehicle is left on the side of the interstate in DC, Maryland, or Virginia, there is a three-step process that takes place. 

    First, Your Vehicle is Tagged

    After speaking with Officer McDonna, we learned that there is a 24-hour rule. But sometimes an officer won’t see your vehicle for a little while so that you may have a bit of a buffer window. 

    Dealing with Car Failure on the Side of a Road 1

    When an officer does see your vehicle on the side of the road, they will stop and tag your car with a time sticker.

    Your 24 hour time window begins after an officer has tagged your vehicle. 

    Meaning you have to have your vehicle towed from the place you left it within an average time frame of 24-36 hours.  

    Second, Your Vehicle Goes to an Impound Lot

    If you do not pick your vehicle up from the side of the interstate after the 24-36 hour time frame, it will be towed by the state to an impound lot. 

    You can call your local police department to find out where your vehicle has been towed: 

    But just in case, you totally forget about your vehicle; the impound lot will send you a letter saying that you have X amount of time to claim and pick up your car. 

    County Impound Lot

    Dealing with Car Failure on the Side of a Road 2

    Lastly, if you do not claim your vehicle from the local impound lot where it was sent, your vehicle will be transferred to your local county impound lot.

    At this point in time, you will not be able to reclaim your car, and it will be sold at auction. So, it’s always a good idea to pick your car up and just sell it yourself. It won’t even cost you a penny to do so if you use one of the free bill of sale templates available online!

    Car failure? Don’t Leave Your Car on the Side of the Interstate

    It may come as a surprise that this process happens very quickly and can be extremely costly. If your vehicle is left at an impound lot could result in fines of up to $125 per day. 

    Remember that you have 24-36 hours to pick your broken down vehicle up from the side of the highway. Try to stay within the 24-hour window just to be safe. 

    And when you need a tow call Geyers Towing, our professions will be there to pick your broken down vehicle up for an affordable price. We will tow your vehicle safely to a mechanic, and even make sure you get back home safely!  

    Learning to Deal with Car Failure Frequently Asked Question FAQs

    Common signs of car failure include strange noises, warning lights on the dashboard, difficulty starting the engine, unusual vibrations, and a decrease in performance.

    Regular car maintenance is key to preventing car failure. This includes checking and changing fluids, inspecting tires, maintaining the battery, and addressing any warning signs promptly.

    If your car breaks down while driving, try to safely pull over to the side of the road or a designated emergency stopping area. Turn on hazard lights, call for roadside assistance, and wait for professional help.

    If your car won’t start, check the battery connections, ensure the vehicle is in park or neutral, and try jump-starting the battery. If these steps don’t work, it may require professional assistance.

    If your car overheats, immediately turn off the air conditioning and turn on the heater to help dissipate heat. Pull over safely, let the engine cool down, and check coolant levels. If needed, add coolant or water once the engine has cooled.

    Towing a car yourself is not recommended unless you have the proper equipment and experience. It’s safer to call a professional towing service to ensure your car is towed correctly without causing further damage.

    Before a long road trip, you should have your car serviced, including an oil change, checking fluid levels, inspecting the tires, and ensuring the spare tire is in good condition. Packing emergency supplies, such as a flashlight and basic tools, is also recommended.

    Engine overheating can be caused by issues such as a coolant leak, a malfunctioning thermostat, a faulty radiator, or a broken water pump.

    How can I deal with a flat tire?
    To deal with a flat tire, find a safe location to pull over, use a spare tire if available, or call for immediate roadside assistance. It’s also helpful to know how to change a tire and have the necessary tools to use.

    It’s really recommended to check your car’s fluids, such as engine oil, coolant, and brake fluid, at least once a month or as specified in the vehicle’s owner’s manual.

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