Breaking down is not a fun experience for any driver, regardless of the circumstances. Not only can it be a huge inconvenience to your day, but it can also be very expensive and maybe even leave you without a car.
There are a huge number of reasons why your car might suddenly decide to give up on you, from general wear and tear, the age, or even larger unforeseen problems that could result in hundreds of pounds worth of work or even a total write off.
Whatever happens to your car, it could be important to make sure that you have breakdown cover and you know exactly what to do in the event of a breakdown.
Here are the top three steps you should take if your car has broken down:
If you notice something is wrong with your vehicle, you should pull over immediately. If youíre driving on the motorway pull over on the hard shoulder and stop as far left as possible with the wheels turned to the left. Remember to leave your sidelights on and turn the hazard warning lights on to notify other drivers that you have a problem with your car. You should never turn to the hard shoulder if you just need to go to the loo, use a mobile phone or check a route or map because it is specifically designed for cars that are in trouble. Once you have pulled up you should get out of the vehicle via the left hand door and make sure all your passengers do the same. If you are travelling with any animals you should leave them in the vehicle. However, if it is a real emergency you should take them out and keep them under control on the verge as they could run out and cause an accident.
If you have reflective jackets in the car then you should wear them, however, donít use a warning triangle on the hard shoulder. Finally, you should make sure that all passengers are kept away from the carriageway and hard shoulder. Keep all youngsters under control and retreat up the bank or behind the barrier if possible. Under no circumstances should you attempt to do any repairs, even the most simplest of repairs, as there could be further problems that you might not be aware of. Even if you pull up on a residential road and the speed limit is significantly lower than a motorway your car could still be a risk to others. If it is safe and you have a warning triangle you should put it out at least 45 metres or 50 yards behind your broken down car on the same side of the road.
Call for help
Once you have made sure that you and all the passengers are safely far away from the vehicle, you should seek assistance. If you don’t have a mobile phone, walk to an emergency telephone on your side of the carriageway. You should be able to find one within a mile or two ñ never attempt to cross the carriageway, even if you do see one. Follow the arrows on the posts at the back of the hard shoulder. The phone is free and connects directly to the police/Highways Agency .When you contact them, give your full details to the police. Itís also worth telling them if you are a vulnerable motorist, such as a woman travelling alone and itís late at night. If you feel at risk from another person, return to your vehicle by a left-hand door and lock all doors. Leave your vehicle again as soon as you feel this danger has passed.
At this stage you should also contact your breakdown provider so they can come and assist you. If you donít have breakdown cover already in place you could face a huge call-out bill which is often in the hundreds, even if all you need is some extra water or a tyre change. Sometimes the cost of a call-out without cover could be more than the job itself.
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Whilst you can never be too sure if your car is going to breakdown, or if you are going to be involved in an accident, but what you can do is take extra precautions. For example, you could be prepared for the worst and keep a road map in the car so youíll be able to explain where you are when you call for help. Donít rely on the map on your phone as you might not always have signal or battery so itís also a good idea to keep a spare charger in the car.
Itís also worth keeping some coins or a phonecard in the car in case you need to call for help and are not on the motorway. Warm clothes, a waterproof jacket, blankets, a rug, some dry food and water should be kept in the car in case you get stuck in cold conditions for a long time.