What To Do If Your Car Breaks Down

Driver training specialist Simon Elstow offers advice to motorists on what to do if your car breaks down.

  • Plan ahead: keep a reflective jacket, warm waterproof clothes and a torch in your car, and store the phone number of your breakdown company and your membership number in your phone. Some breakdown services offer free mobile phone apps, often even if you are not a member. These use the phone's GPS system to identify your precise location.
  • At the first sign of trouble, switch on your hazard lights, slow down and stop the car at a safe place, off the main carriageway. If this is not possible, stop as far to the left as you can so that approaching traffic can see you clearly.
  • On a motorway always try to call your breakdown provider from an emergency telephone – this makes it easier for them to locate you. If you use your mobile, you may be asked to give the number on the nearest marker post, which are located every 100 meters.
  • If you have a high-visibility jacket, put it on and get passengers out of the vehicle on the near side, making sure everyone is standing well away from moving traffic. If there is a safety barrier, wait behind it.
  • If you have an emergency triangle place it about 50 paces behind your vehicle (except on a motorway).
  • Do not carry out any repairs unless the car is parked well away from moving traffic and never attempt a repair on the hard shoulder of a motorway.
  • Be safe and be patient while you wait for help to arrive.

Elstow said: "Having a well-maintained car is the easiest way to avoid breaking down. Check your tyres, lights and oil regularly. If you hear strange noises or feel something is not quite right with the car, get it looked at – don't wait for it to go wrong."

1 September 2011 Staff

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