There’s a lot to love about summer; the long warm days spent visiting friends and family, the day trips to the beach or country parks and the good old UK Staycation. What isn’t always so great is the hectic journey to get to these divine locations.
We’ve all been there at some point or another, stuck in a traffic jam in sweltering heat and often with the sight of some poor soul pulled up on the hard shoulder with vehicle trouble.
As tempting as it can be just to jump in the car and set off on your summer adventure, it’s important to know what preparations you should make ahead of setting off on your journey.
It’s equally as important to know what you should do if you become the person stranded on the hard shoulder of a busy motorway or even on a country lane.
Start Rescue has provided us with a useful checklist on what to do in the event of a breakdown, as well as pre-journey checks that you can carry out to help prevent breaking down in the first place.
Most breakdowns are avoidable. 17% of all breakdowns Start Rescue attended in 2022 were due to tyre issues.
With a trend of increased reported breakdowns during the busy months of July and August these pre-journey checks can help you…
- Check your fuel: Sounds simple, but check you have enough fuel. If you are driving an electric vehicle, ensure you have enough charge to either complete your journey or are able to plan where you can top up.
- Check your tyres: Check your tyres are pressured to the manufacturer’s guidelines. It’s also important to ensure your tyres have at least 3mm of tread. Look out for bald patches or any tyre wall damage such as cuts, bulges or nails that could have punctured the tyre wall.
- Check your oil: The oil in your vehicle helps to ensure that the engine runs smoothly, acting as a lubricant and helps to avoid it from overheating. Therefore, it’s important to ensure that you have the correct oil levels.
- Check your coolant level: Ensure you have the right coolant levels to avoid your vehicle overheating, especially in heavy traffic.
- Check your screenwash: Bugs and dirt on the windscreen can impair your vision so ensure the windscreen washer tank is topped up. Also check your windscreen wiper blades are in good condition.
- Pack useful items: It’s ideal to have drinks, snacks, a blanket and USB phone charger or portable power bank to hand, should you experience a breakdown.
If you are unsure about coolant levels, oil, tyres etc, check your vehicle’s manual for guidance, or contact a local trusted garage for a quick vehicle check over, as checking the above will take no more than 10 minutes.
What to do in the event of a breakdown
- Stay calm!
- Get your vehicle to a safe place: If you are on a motorway, if it is safe to do so, see if you can make it to the next exit. If you can’t, pull up on to the hard shoulder and stop as far to the left as you can, with the wheels turned to the left.
- Warn others you have broken down: Turn on your hazard lights and, if its dark or foggy, turn on your sidelights too. As long as you are not on a motorway, you can use a warning triangle if you have one, placing it at least 45m behind your vehicle.
- If safe, leave your vehicle: Exit your vehicle using the left-hand doors and move as far away as you can, behind a safety barrier if there is one. On dual carriage ways and motorways, look to move up the embankment away from the fast-moving traffic. Always stand in a position which is behind your vehicle, not in front or to the side in case your vehicle is hit by another.
- Broken down in a live lane? If you are unfortunate enough to break down in a live lane, immediately turn on your hazard lights. If you can’t get over to the left-hand lane, stay in the car, leave your seat belt on and call 999.
- Call for roadside assistance.
As Lee Puffett, Managing Director at Start Rescue commented:
“Simple vehicle checks could prevent a breakdown and help make sure you get to your destination safely. However, should you find yourself unfortunate enough to have an issue with your vehicle, through our invaluable network of local recovery operators, we’re on hand 24/7 to assist stranded motorists. So be sure to check your tyres, screenwash and oil, but if you don’t know how to, take your vehicle to a trusted garage to perform a quick check, as it will take minutes and could save you a great deal in time and money further into your journey. Please don’t run the risk and then ruin your day out or holiday. Most of all, have an enjoyable summer, with the peace of mind that Start Rescue is here to help!”