Are you Prepared for a Car Breakdown?
Written by tony, February 28, 2018
One of the most common fears drivers have is breaking down. While you can’t prevent a breakdown entirely, keeping your car maintained will significantly reduce your chances. While we hope it won’t, it could happen to anyone. So it’s best to be prepared. All drivers should be mindful of what to do in a breakdown situation.
Most common callouts
- Non-start – 62%
- Tire/Wheel issues 19%
- General mechanical problems 17%
Auto National study 2017
Other cases include: Flat batteries, lack of fuel and lack of coolant. Fortunately all of these are easily avoidable.
You’ll be pleased to know you are far more likely to have a problem starting your car than anything else could cause a breakdown. The next most common cause is tire related problems. Tires are often referred to as the most important safety feature on a car. If they’re worn, under inflated or bulging, that puts them at risk. We can and all should be keeping an eye on the condition of our tires as much as possible. If you take care of your tires, you can significantly reduce your chance of a breakdown.
What to do in a Breakdown Situation
A/B Roads and Country Lane
What to do if you break down on an A/B road or a country lane.
- Bring the car to a stop off the road, or where it won’t pose a danger to other drivers
- Put hazard lights on straight away
- If it is dark leave your side lights on
- If you break down at a roundabout, street corner or other awkward place, exit the car as safely as possible and call for breakdown assistance.
According to the highway code drivers should leave the motorway at the next available exit or services if they develop a problem. Of course this isn’t always possible.
What if you can’t leave the motorway?
- If you can’t exit the motorway pull over onto the hard shoulder
- Keep as far to the left as you can with your wheels turned left. This means that your car won’t be pushed into oncoming traffic if knocked.
- Leave the car from the opposite side to the traffic and remain somewhere safe while you call for help.
- Always remain facing the traffic so you are aware of what is happening
On motorways emergency phones (in orange) are positioned every mile and are free to use. Arrows on the back of the hard shoulder can point you in the right direction. The emergency phone puts you through to the highways agency. They may call a local garage and you would not have much choice on how much they charge.
What if you can’t reach the hard shoulder or there isn’t one?
- Turn your hazard warning lights on as quickly as possible
- Remain in the car with your seat belt fastened
Motorways have lots of cameras and you will be spotted very quickly. On a smart motorway (with overhead variable speed limits) the lane you are in can be closed quickly until help arrives.
Emergency breakdown kit checklist
Keeping the following items in your car could help make the situation a little easier, and offer some comfort should you break down.
- First aid kit
- Warm clothing
- Replacement bulbs
- Hazard warning triangle
- Mobile phone & charger
- Non perishable snack (such as cereal bars)
- Road map
- Drinking water