Breaking down is not something anyone wants to think about too much, but in the unfortunate event of a breakdown you need to make sure you are not left stranded. We have put together a guide to help make sure you are not left out in the cold if you do break down.
Cars are far more reliable nowadays than they once were, but mechanical or electrical problems can strike at any time. If your vehicle breaks down and you don’t have a policy in place, you will face a perfect storm of problems, which could prove stressful and expensive.
With all the above in mind, it’s simple common sense to ensure you never set out in your car without a valid breakdown cover policy in place, and with cheap breakdown cover available from less than £20 per year, there’s really no reason not to buy a policy.
The first thing you should do is check your bank, your car insurance provider AND your car manufacturer (especially if the car was new) to check to see if Breakdown cover is included as part of the services they deliver to you. In the case of Banks, with premium accounts and rewards, almost all offer breakdown cover as part of the range of free services you get with the account, often alongside free European travel insurance.
Check your current car insurance policy to find out if you have breakdown cover already included. If you don’t ask them how much it would cost to add breakdown onto the policy, it is usually must better value to add breakdown cover this way and more convenient.
With many car manufacturers, they now include breakdown cover as part of the services they provide to you when you buy the car new that forms the car warranty, you can also take out a breakdown policy as a used car owner to enjoy the same benefits.
The benefit of having cover with a manufacturer is that they will not take you to the nearest garage for repairs but to a manufacturer approved garage, this ensures that the repairs are done correctly and to a high standard, within the warranty guidelines at no cost to you.
There are numerous forms of breakdown cover that are designed for different types of driver as well as different forms of breakdown circumstances. The key is to always shop around because specialist forms of breakdown are likely to be much more suitable for you than generic cover. The following list includes the most common types of breakdown cover available:
UK Breakdown Cover: The most common form of breakdown cover is UK breakdown, as the name suggests it covers instances of where you may breakdown in the UK only, although always check the exceptions listed as it may surprise you that although it says UK, it doesn’t quite cover the whole of the country for all circumstances. For example, under snow and flooded conditions they are not necessarily obligated to come and get you, so do check.
European Breakdown Cover: If you are travelling on holiday and driving in Europe, it is important that you buy a specific policy that covers you for European breakdown. It is absolutely vital to check the small print, not only of countries listed and included, but also what happens when you breakdown and the rules that involve vehicle recovery and repair. Some policies will only rescue you from the main roads, others include repair and replacement car if needed to continue on your trip.
Family Breakdown Cover: You probably want to make sure your whole family is suitably covered when they take to the roads. If so, this type of policy gives all family members the same level of cover at once, which is often reassuring peace of mind for parents.
Multi-Car Breakdown Cover: Many households now have more than one vehicle, and you wouldn’t want to get caught out if you happened to break down in the wrong one! If you have more than one car, a multi car breakdown cover policy is a great choice, not only in terms of great price but also in terms of what they offer.
Commercial Breakdown Cover: If you use your car (or van) for work as well as pleasure, then you may not be protected by a normal consumer breakdown policy – so please check your current policy and look at commercial breakdown cover as an option if you use your vehicle for business purposes.
You’ve now got the right breakdown cover for you. Here is a list of very simple things to do so that if you are in a breakdown you are as prepared as possible:
Now you are ready for driving and are covered against all eventualities in case of breakdown.
Hopefully you will never have to put this advice into action, but in case you should breakdown here is some advice on what you should do to remain safe by the side of the road.
If you do breakdown in a free recovery zone, then you will need to use the sos telephone box to call for free assistance. Marker posts along the motorway will let you know the direction of the nearest sos telephone box. You should be aware that a free recovery vehicle will only take you out of the free recovery zone and then you will have to phone for your own breakdown recovery.
If you breakdown on a motorway, then you need to give a detailed description of your location. As many of the motorways look very similar this can sometimes be tricky to do, especially if you are lost and have no idea of your location.
Luckily there are sign posts all along the motorway, (roughly 1 mile apart) which give information on which road you are travelling on, which direction you are travelling in, and how far you are from the start of the motorway. Here is an example of the sign you may see and information on how to understand it.
If you breakdown on any other roads, which are not motorways then it may be a bit safer to check your car yourself and judge whether you need a recovery truck. Follow these simple steps to ensure you and your passenger stay safe at the side of the road.
We have listed the top reasons for car breakdowns, so that you can take precautionary measures to ensure the same doesn’t happen to your car.
The biggest cause of vehicle breakdowns in the UK is battery related problems. There are a few different reasons why car batteries fail or weaken, these are:
Flat tyres and other tyre issues such as blowouts, or even no spare tyre, are reoccurring problems. There are steps that you can take to make sure that your tyres are up to standard which should help prevent a breakdown.
Losing your keys can be a one of the most frustrating reasons to call out a recovery truck. Many modern cars have a transponder key to prevent theft, these are very expensive to replace so its worth getting a spare made, as a dealer may take a few days to obtain a replacement.
There are a few indicators of a failing alternator, these are:
If the starter motor fails to crank the engine, or turns to slowly then the engine will not start. Usually the starter motor in a car is very robust, but they can fail from time to time. Garage maintenance should point out any potential faults with a starter motor.