Man looking under bonnet of car at the side of the road

What to do if your car breaks down

Breaking down is one of the biggest fears of any driver, particularly breaking down in remote locations or when travelling along on the motorway and you can’t make it to a hard shoulder, if there is one at all. Luckily, Scrap Car Comparison are experts in this field, and we have all the answers you’ll need if you’re currently sitting at the side of the road wondering what to do.

Keep Calm and get to a safe place

The most important thing to do when you’re waiting for a recovery truck is to stay calm – you won’t be making rational decisions if you’re wound up in a panic. Take a deep breath and get your car, if you can, across to the side of the road and off the main carriageway, and turn your hazard lights on. When getting out of the car, rather than using the driver’s door and walking into the road, climb over into the passenger seat and exit the car that way, wearing a hi-vis vest if you have one.

Alert other drivers

Although you’ve pulled the car over to the side of the road where it should be out of the way of other road traffic, you’re going to want to give other drivers some warning, otherwise they’re going to have a bit of a shock when they discover your car at the side of the road – if they see it at all before they drive into it.

Use your warning triangle and set it up 45 metres behind your vehicle, which is just under 150 feet or about 60 paces. Do not do this on a motorway, however, as it is much more dangerous to do so. If you’ve broken down at night, or the visibility is poor through adverse weather conditions, then make sure you keep your sidelights and hazard lights on, and do not stand in a position that would block other drivers from seeing your lights.

What do I do if I break down on the motorway?

If you’ve been unlucky enough to break down while on a motorway, then hopefully you will be close enough to a service station or exit slip road to get off the motorway as soon as possible. If you cannot get off the motorway itself, then try to pull over to the hard shoulder and get as far to the left as possible, with your wheels turning left as well. Much like the previous point, turn your hazards and sidelights (if visibility is poor) on and this time hop over the safety barriers meaning you have some protection from the passing traffic.

What if there isn’t a hard shoulder?

The ironically titled “Smart Motorways” now mean there are 44 stretches of motorway in the UK, making up around 345 miles, that do not always have a hard shoulder in operation. This can be quite alarming for a driver who has broken down on one, and again, you’re going to want to try and leave the motorway either through an emergency refuge area, a service station or at the next junction. If you cannot make it to any of these, then turn your hazard lights on and move into the left-most lane and get as far to the side as possible. From there, and again, only if it’s safe to do so, exit from the left-hand side of the car and wait behind safety barriers.

If you have been able to make it to the emergency refuge area, leave the car from the left-hand side of the car – never exiting the car into a live lane – and climb over the barriers to make yourself as safe as possible. Once in there, you must use the emergency telephone and give the operator as much detail as you can.

My car has broken down at home, what do I do?

Most roadside assistance policies only cover you if you’ve broken down more than a quarter mile away from your home. However, almost all will offer a “home start” cover, which covers you in that final ¼ of a mile. You are usually able to add the home cover at any point, but bear in mind that if you are looking to add-on the service with your car already broken down, it will likely cost you more than if you added it from the start.

What do I do if my car breaks down in a car park?

The most common location for breaking down is in a car park, so if you’ve found yourself stranded in a car park, you’re not alone. They’re also one of the safest places to break down, too, as they’re one of the very few places on the road where you’re expecting to find stationary cars. While you don’t need to worry about your hazard lights or making other road users aware this time, you do need to be aware of how much longer you have on your parking ticket. If there is an attendant nearby you can inform them, although if the car park uses Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) technology, you’ll need to extend your stay until you have been recovered.

You can learn more about leaving your car after a break down here.

If your car has broken down, or is sounding like it’s about to, then why not cash in before it makes a small problem bigger? By selling your car as scrap or salvage with Scrap Car Comparison, you can guarantee the best price for your car thanks to our nationwide network of specialist buyers, all of whom are desperate to get their hands on your car. This network also allows us to provide you with a collection service, at no extra cost to you, meaning all you have to do is worry about what you’re going to spend your money on. Find out how much your car could be worth today by using our quick and easy online scrap quote generator, and get your price in as little as 30 seconds.


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