What to do if your car breaks down

It’s your worst nightmare; you’re on your way home from work or a family day out in the countryside when your car breaks down! Breaking down can be incredibly stressful, but there are a number of steps you can take both before this happens and after it occurs to take control of the situation.

Breakdown cover ensuring you have breakdown cover with roadside assistance can take a lot of the stress out of an unexpected breakdown. Most companies such as the AA or RAC will be happy to offer you cover over the phone should your vehicle breakdown without an existing policy in place, but be aware it might cost you more to do this.

Stay Safe

The most important thing to think about if you have a flat tire or your car breaks down for any reason is the safety of yourself and any passengers travelling with you. If you’re travelling on a motorway, you should only pull onto the hard shoulder in an emergency – never stop to make a mobile phone call or check a map. If possible, try to drive to a safe spot where you can stop off the motorway, but if you do need to pull over, always make sure that everyone exits the vehicle on the left hand side, well away from traffic.

You shouldn’t attempt any repairs at the side of the motorway, even if it’s just a tire change. Instead, stay in your vehicle and call the AA, or use one of the free emergency phones that you’ll find on the hard shoulder, if there is one close at hand. This will connect you directly to the police and Highways Agency.

Call for Help

If you’re driving across the country, you might not know your exact location, particularly if you break down at night. The new ‘driver location signs’ provide information about your location that you can pass onto the AA or your breakdown company when you call, and some companies such as the AA even have an app which will pinpoint your location using GPS, sending this directly to the contact centre.

Stay Visible

You need to be aware that you might not be visible to oncoming traffic, particularly on a busy road, so you should ideally try to stop away from a bend in the road, turning on your interior lights at night time to make yourself more visible.

During the day, turn your hazard lights on to ensure oncoming traffic can see you, and if you’ve managed to pull over and need to perform maintenance such as a tire change, always ensure you’re working on the side of the vehicle that’s furthest away from traffic.

Take some steps to protect yourself before a breakdown happens by making sure you have roadside assistance cover in place, and remember to stay safe if the worst does happen – don’t risk your life crossing a busy motorway or dual carriageway under any circumstances!