WHAT TO DO IF YOUR CAR BREAKS DOWN
If you keep your car well maintained then you are unlikely to break down, but just in case you are unlucky here are a few tips to keep you safe.
BUY BREAKDOWN COVER
Arranging breakdown cover through AA, RAC etc is an inexpensive way to give peace of mind that you can get help easily when you need it. The annual fee starts from around £35 and will mean that a well trained professional will come to help you when you are broken down away from home. If your car cannot be fixed straight away, they will arrange to tow your car to a garage or back to your home.
MAKE THE CAR SAFE
Your first priority is to make sure your car does not become a danger to other road users. Turn on your hazard warning lights, and if possible park your car off the road in a safe place. If you have a reflective jacket, put it on, and if you feel your car might be hit by other traffic, place your warning triangle at least 50M behind your car to warn oncoming traffic. Sitting in your car can be dangerous in this situation so you and any passengers should wait somewhere safe away from the road. If you feel at risk from another person, return to your car and lock the doors. Leave your car again as soon as the danger has passed.
If your engine stops running you will lose all power and the car will start to slow down. Press the clutch down immediately to allow the car to coast far enough to reach a safe place to stop. Be careful steering, as if your car has power steering this will stop working and the steering will become much heavier to turn than usual. If you have time, turn on your hazard lights to warn others you are stopping quickly.
If you notice your engine is overheating (the temperature gauge reads higher than normal) then pull over somewhere safe, turn off the engine and give the car a chance to cool down. Do not continue driving as eventually the engine will seize up, doing terminal damage. The most common cause of overheating is the loss of engine coolant, so after the car has cooled for at least 30 minutes you should check the cars coolant level and top it up to help you get home. Do not attempt to open the coolant cap before it has cooled as the system is pressurized and boiling coolant might gush over you and cause burns.
Due to the high speed of passing traffic, breaking down on a motorway can be more dangerous than on slower roads. Ideally exit the motorway at the next exit, but if you have to stop ensure you get your car onto the hard shoulder, apply the hazard lights, and turn your steering slightly to the left - this will stop your car rolling back onto the motorway if hit from behind. Get everybody out of the vehicle using the left doors and wait in a safe place away from the carriageway. Do not attempt to repair your car, instead phone for emergency help. If you don’t have a mobile phone the marker posts at the side of the road show which way to walk to find the nearest phone.