Car broken down? Here’s what to do next

Breaking down is a sure-fire way to ruin any journey but being prepared can help you get back on the road sooner rather than later. To make sure you don’t get caught out, comparison site, experts in helping you get cheap car insurance in the UK, share their expert advice on what to do if your car breaks down.

What to do if your car breaks down

If your car breaks down, there are just five points to remember:

  1. Stop somewhere safe

Ideally this means keeping as far to the left-hand side of the road as possible. On motorways, this is the hard shoulder or emergency laybys (officially called ‘emergency refuge areas ’).

  1. Stay safe

You should always exit your car from the left-hand side, away from traffic. You should make your way to the verge and stay as far away from the traffic as possible. Pets should stay in your car unless you can restrain them safely.

  1. Be seen

You and your car need to be as visible as possible. For you, that means putting on a hi-vis if you have one. For your car, it means putting on its hazard lights and side lights if visibility is poor.

  1. Warn other drivers

As well as your hazard lights, you should place a warning triangle roughly 45 metres (147 feet) behind your car. The exception is if you’re on the motorway, in which case, you should never attempt this.

  1. Call for help

If you have breakdown insurance, call your insurer. Depending on the cover you have, they’ll be able to send a mechanic and help you on your way. If you don’t have cover, you have three other options:

  • Call for help using the emergency roadside telephones, these are positioned one mile apart along the motorway and connect directly to the Highways Agency and the police.
  • Call a local garage and arrange for your car to be repaired at the side of the road or towed to the nearest workshop.
  • Buy breakdown insurance there and then for immediate coverage, however, this can work out significantly more expensive compared to buying a policy beforehand.

How can buying breakdown cover help?

Having breakdown cover means your insurer can arrange for a mechanic to come to you, so that you don’t have to worry about finding a local garage. You can buy it as a standalone product or it can be bundled in with your car insurance policy.

Breakdown insurance covers a range of different events so you’ll be able to select the features you want. Typically, you can choose from:

  • Roadside breakdown and recovery — your insurer will send someone to help fix your car at the roadside. If it can’t be repaired, your car will be towed to the nearest garage.
  • Home start — if your car breaks down at home (or within a certain radius) your insurer will send someone to resolve the problem there and then.
  • National recovery —if your car can’t be repaired at the roadside, your car will be taken to a UK garage of your choice.
  • Onward travel — if your car can’t be fixed straight away, your insurer will arrange for you to carry on your journey using an alternative means of transport (either a courtesy car or taxi).
  • European breakdown — provides you with roadside assistance if your car breaks down in Europe. Always double check the country you’re going to is listed in your policy.

How much does breakdown cover cost?

The cost of breakdown cover really depends on the features you choose. However, it’s worth noting that cheap policies aren’t always the bargain they first appear, especially if they only cover one particular event.

For example, cheap breakdown cover and recovery might seem like it’s all you need, but think about what happens if you break down far from home. Unless you also have national recovery, your car is likely to end up close to where you broke down which can be inconvenient. Not only that, you’ll also need to factor in how you’ll continue your journey which could be tricky and expensive.

On the other hand, more expensive policies often combine several features. This can give you greater all-round coverage and help you continue your journey while your car is taken away for repair.

To make sure you find the best value breakdown cover, shop around and compare features as well as price. The good news is that you can start searching for great deals on all your car insurance needs right now at

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