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  • Writer's picturePW Auto Repairs

What to do when you breakdown at the roadside



If you breakdown on the roadside

  • Try to get your vehicle off the road safely and stay calm

  • Turn hazard warning lights on

  • Make sure everyone gets out of the car safely using the left-hand doors if possible

  • Wait in a safe place where you can supervise your passengers

  • Put on a hi-vis vest if you have one

  • Keep your sidelights switched on at night or if visibility is poor

  • Make sure you know your registration number, make and model

  • Call for help - you may have roadside recovery services (sometimes with your bank or as part of a car purchase)

  • Assess if you may also require emergency assistance from the police to prevent an accident

  • If you or your passengers are vulnerable or in a particularly dangerous situation, make sure you let them know

  • Tell them the nature of the breakdown

  • If you have a hazard warning triangle and it is safe to do so, place this in a suitable place (don't attempt this on a dual-carriageway motorway)

  • Make sure you continue to supervise all passengers

  • You may be able to obtain your exact location from your mobile phone to assist with recovery services finding you

  • If it is safe to carry out a temporary repair, such as changing to a spare tyre, make sure it is safe to do so and that any passengers remain in a safe place

Additional actions if you are on a motorway

  • Leave at the next exit or service station if possible

  • If you cannot leave at an exit, use your hazard warning lights and move safely to the left and get as far left as possible with your wheels also pointed to the left

  • Some motorways have hard shoulders, but some are now "smart motorways" and it is important to know the difference as you may be in a live lane

  • Climb over the safety barrier and keep as far away from traffic as possible

  • There may be an emergency telephone nearby

  • Do not attempt to carry out any investigations or repairs at the roadside (such as changing a tyre)

If you are broken down on the motorway and can't get to the hard shoulder

  • Get as far to the left as possible

  • Keep your seatbelt on if you cannot get out safely

  • Switch on hazard warning lights

  • Call 999


Organising recovery if your vehicle cannot be fixed at the roadside

  • Consider where you are going to have the vehicle recovered to

  • If you leave the vehicle it will be lower priority for recovery

  • Make sure you take any belongings you need from the vehicle

  • If you do not have a recovery services membership, you may need a debit/credit card or bank details to pay for private recovery

  • Details of the breakdown incident will assist the repairer with a prompt and accurate diagnosis, such as - what happened, any warning lights/error messages/noises/smells/fluid loss, loss of power/acceleration, feelings such as vibrations, when/how long it has been going on, speed, length of journey, prior repairs/investigations/incidents etc

  • Ask for any reports or information from the recovery services which may be relevant


Preparing for a breakdown situation

  • Prevention is better than cure - maintenance is key to keeping you going

  • Give your car a checkover before long journeys - click here for our top tips!

  • Keep a copy of your breakdown cover documents in your vehicle

  • Keep the breakdown cover provider's phone number in your mobile phone

  • Download the what3words app so you can find your precise location

  • Keep a safety kit in the car with a hazard warning triangle, hi-vis jacket, first aid kit and torch

  • In winter - carry warm clothing, waterproof coats and blankets

  • In summer - carry water

  • Keep your mobile phone charged up

  • Make sure you never run too low on fuel

  • Keep your locking wheel nut key in the boot with the spare tyre or inflation kit or glove box so it is easy to find

  • It's also a good idea to make sure someone knows where you are going and the route you'll be travelling



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