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What to Do When Your Car Breaks Down

If you’re frantically Googling ‘what to do when your car breaks down’ from the side of the road, don’t panic. Breakdowns are easily resolved with a cool head and a few phone calls.

If possible, get your car to a safe place, like a motorway service station, or close to an orange emergency phone if you can see one. 

If you can’t drive it at all, pull over as far to the left as you can, getting your entire vehicle off the carriageway unless you absolutely can’t avoid it. Don’t get out and push the car. If it’s really stuck, leave it where it is with the lights on and get everyone out. 

Stay or Go when your car breaks down?


It’s safer to be out of the car than in it, so passengers need to exit on the side with no traffic and stand behind the crash barrier if there is one. Unless it’s a dire emergency (for example, the car is on fire), it’s recommended that you leave pets inside the car where they’ll be at less risk of causing an accident or being hurt. It only takes a second of distraction for someone to let go of a lead or allow a pet to wander into a road.

Assuming the car has power, put the lights and indicators on before leaving the car with your phone to call for help. If you don’t have a phone with you, you’ll need to walk to the nearest emergency phone. On the motorway, the arrows point to the nearest orange phone station.

There are some situations where you might need to stay in the car for your own safety. If you do, lock the doors.

Who to Call When You Break Down


Some banks and building societies include breakdown cover as part of a package of account benefits. Check yours to see if it’s included. There’s usually a helpline for 24-hour assistance on your bank’s site.

Contrary to popular belief, you can also call a breakdown service even if you’re not a member. So it’s fine to call the AA or RAC for help, or ring another breakdown service if you’ve got an alternative in mind. Many companies will assist you immediately, and charge you for the call-out, and then give you the option of taking out cover in case it happens again. Alternatively, they might give you the option of signing up for a policy there and then.

Don’t be tempted to try and sign up for a breakdown company online before phoning for assistance. You won’t be covered, so it’ll end up costing more.

Top Recovery Tips


It’s a good idea to carry a bag in your car in case you get broken down or stranded. Think about what you might need if the worst happens: water, blankets, and a phone charger are all good things to include. You might also want to pack an umbrella and snacks for the kids.

Also, it’s good to remember that breakdown companies will come to you more quickly if you are vulnerable. For example, if you’re travelling with young children, they will try to prioritise you. Likewise, older people and disabled drivers or passengers should receive priority service when available. This isn’t a guarantee that you’ll get picked up quickly, but it is worth mentioning to the operator when you phone.

*The information in this blog is designed to provide helpful information on the subjects discussed. Please seek a professional for expert advice as we can not be held responsible for any damages or negative consequences upon following this information.

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