What to do if your car breaks down

Your car breaking down mid-journey is frustrating to say the least. But having breakdown cover will make the situation a lot less stressful. To help you stay calm and collected while you wait to be recovered, here are six tips for what to do when your car takes a turn for the worse and ends up stuck at the roadside.

1. Move to safety and warn others

Depending where you break down, and what the problem is with your car, moving your vehicle to the side of the road might not be easy. But if you can, get your car out of the path of other vehicles to avoid causing any accidents. As soon as you realise there is a problem, put your hazard lights on as a warning to others. If you have a warning triangle, and it’s safe to put one out, place it at least 50 yards behind your car to tell others there’s a breakdown ahead.

2. Leave your vehicle

If you’ve broken down at the side of the road, you and any passengers should leave your vehicle and wait for help a good distance away from it. This means that if others collide with your stationary vehicle, you will be safe. However, if you’re travelling with a pet, it’s safer to leave your animal in the car while you wait to ensure there’s no chance of them escaping into the traffic.

3. Breaking down on the motorway

Encountering car problems on the motorway isn’t a great experience. If you can get your car on to the hard shoulder, park it as far to the left as possible and turn your wheels towards the grass verge in case it rolls. Leave your hazard lights flashing as a warning to others. Make sure all passengers exit the car through a left side door, moving far away from the vehicle and traffic, and put on any reflective clothing you have. Never attempt to put a warning triangle out on the hard shoulder.

Call for help using the emergency phone on your side of the carriageway. You’ll notice arrows which will guide you to the nearest emergency phone, located at approximately one-mile intervals along the hard shoulder. But if you can, try to pull over close to an emergency phone so that you don’t have to walk far along the hard shoulder to find one. If you do have to walk to a phone, keep as far away from the carriageway as possible.

4. Can’t get to the hard shoulder?

Breaking down on the motorway and not being able to move to the hard shoulder can be pretty scary. If you find yourself in this position, immediately switch on your hazard lights but don’t leave your vehicle unless the motorway has a clear and long opening. As well as calling your breakdown recovery provider, you will need to phone the emergency services to let them know about your situation.

5. Fixing your car

Even if you know what the problem is with your car, and how to fix it, you need to consider whether it’s safe to do so. Changing a tyre might be manageable, but consider your surroundings carefully. Never attempt to fix your car if you break down on a motorway. In any case, it’s always better to wait for help from the professionals.

6. Be prepared