What to do when you breakdown

Dealing with a broken down car

A car breakdown is far from ideal and can be a daunting experience, unless you know how to handle the situation. While you might be late for work or have to cancel a night out with friends, staying safe is the main priority. So, here’s what to do should your vehicle conk out.

Things to do:

Not all breakdowns are the same. But there are some general rules you can follow to warn other drivers and protect you and your vehicle from further misfortune. These include:

  • Switching on your hazard and side lights

Whether your car has broken down at a roundabout or you feel something’s not right and are looking to slow down and come to a safe stop, always switch on your hazard lights. This lets other drivers know that you’re experiencing an issue and will encourage them to be cautious around you. When at a standstill, be sure to switch on your side lights as well as your hazards if it’s dark as this will help people to see your vehicle and avoid a potential collision.

  • Pull onto the hard shoulder or roadside

If there’s no way you can make it home or off a busy road, then you must pull onto the hard shoulder or roadside, but make sure this is 100% necessary. Stopping at the side of a motorway can be dangerous and is far from pleasant, so stay as far left as possible and always exit your vehicle from the left door as this is the safest way to leave your vehicle. If you’re travelling with pets, never let them out of the car, as if they run loose into traffic the results could be traumatic.

  • Call your breakdown company for help

Hopefully, you’ve the relevant breakdown cover to avoid high motorway breakdown recovery costs or any other kind of on-road rescue. While breakdown cover typically starts at around £30 a year, you could be looking at towaway costs of £250 if you’ve not got any cover, so it’s worth looking into this now to prevent unnecessary charges. Once you’ve called your company, stand facing the traffic at all times while you wait for them to arrive.

Note: While it’s possible to get immediate emergency breakdown cover if you don’t already have it, premiums could be a lot higher than comparing and contrasting plans in advance. So, if you’ve broken down at home and have a bit of time to spare, it might be worth taking out cover online before calling the company for help.

Things to avoid:

Whether your vehicle stops working on a motorway or a quieter country road, there are certain things you should avoid. These include:

  • Stopping on the hard shoulder unless it’s an emergency. If it’s a minor issue, it’s best to pull off at the next junction and stop in a safe place to inspect the problem, or head straight to the nearest garage for advice.
  • Attempting to make on-road repairs. If you’re not a mechanic or vehicle technician and you’re surrounded by busy traffic, this is a bad idea which could cause more damage.
  • Taking your eyes off oncoming traffic. Whatever you do, don’t get distracted, even when calling your breakdown company as this is extremely dangerous.

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