Breaking down can be a frightening and worrying experience, especially if you’re on a motorway or on a road with low visibility such as a country road.
If you do break down in your car though, there are a few things you can do to make sure you, and other drivers, are kept as safe as possible.
How to prepare for a car breakdown
First things first, try and avoid a breakdown if possible. Dealing with a vehicle breakdown is much more straightforward if you’re prepared.
- Consider getting breakdown cover.
- Check your tyres! Tyres and batteries are our number 1 callout problem.
- Keep a breakdown kit in your car at all times. This should include essentials such as a high-visibility jacket, a warning triangle and a torch with fresh batteries.
- Have your car serviced regular. If you hear strange noises of feel something strange, see a mechanic, especially before a long journey.
- Don’t ignore any dashboard warning indicators or unusual noises that your car make. Get them checked out by a mechanic as soon as possible, before they develop into more serious problems.
What to do if you break down
If your car breaks down, you need to think about the safety of you and other road users.
Make sure you do the following if your car breaks down:
- Try and get your car off the road so it doesn’t cause an obstruction
- Put your hazard lights on if you can’t get your car off the road and it’s causing an obstruction. This will warn other road users that your car has broken down
- Make sure you can be seen by other road users by wearing a reflective high vis jacket. This is particularly important at night and when there’s poor visibility
- If it’s safe to do so, put a warning triangle at least 45 metres behind your broken-down car and on the same side of the road. Take great care when putting down and picking up your warning triangle of other traffic
- If the visibility is poor, then keep your sidelights on if you can
- If you car is in a dangerous position and obstructing a road, please leave the vehicle and stand in a safe place, away from the car
- Park with your wheels pointing left
- Get in touch with your breakdown provider as soon as you can
What not to do
- Never use a warning triangle on a motorway
- Don’t stand in front of your lights so other road users can’t see your lights – particularly when it’s dark or the visibility is poor
- Never stand in between your car and oncoming traffic
What to do if you break down on a motorway
Breaking down on a motorway can be extremely frightening and dangerous. If you’re driving on a motorway and your car develops a problem, come off at the next junction or make your way to the nearest service station or designated place you can stop safely.
If it’s dangerous to keep driving your car or its engine has stopped running, make sure you do the following to keep you, your passengers and other motorway users as safe as possible
The safety of you and other drivers is paramount.
- Pull your car as far to the left as you can on the hard shoulder. Make sure your car’s wheels are turned to the left. This if in case someone strikes your car, your vehicle will move away from traffic.
- Make sure you and your passengers get out of the car using the passenger side doors.
- If you have any animals in your car, you should leave them inside the vehicle. Animals should only be taken out of the car in an emergency and they must be under proper control or contained in a secure travel carrier
- Call your breakdown provider and explain exactly where you are. We suggest you download the ‘what3words app to give your recovery driver your pinpoint location.
- Let them know if you are travelling alone, have anyone vulnerable in the car, who is in a wheelchair for example, or if you have any animals with you
- Wait near your car, but well away from the carriageway – and on the other side of the crash barrier
- Use a warning triangle on a motorway – not in any instance
- Do not attempt to make any repairs yourself – even simple ones
What to do if you break down without having any cover
If your car breaks down and you have no cover, you will probably instantly regret not taking out breakdown cover!
There are still options available – however, they could be very costly.
Local garage that provides recovery services
Emergency garage call-out fees are extremely expensive though, and that’s before you have to pay for the repairs on top.
Remember garages don’t provide a 24/7 service either, so if you break down out of hours, then you could be stuck.
Emergency motorway breakdown recovery
If you break down on a motorway and you don’t have any cover, there are emergency telephones available that are located about one mile intervals along the hard shoulder. Here you can arrange emergency assistance to where the recovery operator is located.
You could be charged at least £150 by Highways England to recover your broken down car.
To be on the safe side – Make sure you have breakdown cover! Get a quote from under £20 per year here