What to do if your car breaks down

If your car starts making unusual noises, strange vibrations, or you see smoke coming from the engine, it might be about to break down. What should you do next?

1: Put your hazards on and find somewhere safe to pull over

Exactly where it’s safe to pull over will depend on the road you’re driving on.

  • Motorways

Try to exit the motorway if you can or pull over onto the hard shoulder. If you can’t exit or get to the hard shoulder, stay in your vehicle, put your hazard lights on, keep your seatbelt on and call the emergency services.

  • Smart motorways

If you’re on a smart motorway, there’s no hard shoulder so you’ll need to stop at an emergency refuge area (ERA). ERAs are marked with large blue signs with an orange SOS telephone symbol.

  • Other roads

Choose an area where other drivers can see you easily. Avoid roundabouts, corners or junctions if you can.

2: Get everyone out of the car

If it’s safe to do so, get everyone out of the car. Don’t use the doors on the driver’s side of the vehicle as you could be at risk from passing traffic. Instead, make sure you and your passengers use the passenger side doors.

Leave your pets in the car. Make sure the windows are wide open enough to allow fresh air into your car and that drinking water is available for your pet.

3: Get to and stay somewhere safe

Move behind the crash barrier or onto the grass verge, away from the road. If it’s dark and you have one, wear a high visibility jacket so that others can see you.

If you feel at risk from another person, get back into your vehicle from the passenger side and lock all of the doors. Stay in your vehicle until that person has passed.

If your car breaks down on a motorway, don’t put your warning triangle out. If your car breaks down on another road, you can use your warning triangle.

4: Call for help

Don’t try to fix your vehicle yourself by the roadside as this could put you in danger. Instead, it’s better to contact professional breakdown assistance using your mobile or the nearest emergency telephone.

Contact your breakdown cover provider if you have a policy. If not, you can contact a local garage or the Highways Agency however, local garages and the Highways Agency do charge call out and tow fees which can get quite expensive.

At Lifesure, we’ve teamed up with breakdown recovery specialists, to offer a number of very affordable roadside assistance and breakdown recovery packages. Have a look at our policies online or contact our team to find out more.

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Motor breakdown insurance