When we carried out a survey on young drivers’ worst driving fears – we discovered that the biggest worry out there was breaking down! No-one fancies the idea of breaking down at the best of times, but if you’re new to the road and on your own, we can understand why it gives you the jitters!
As much as we’d like to, we can’t help you avoid a vehicle breakdown completely, but we can offer helpful advice so that you’re prepared – so hopefully, if the worst happens, you may be pleasantly surprised that breaking down wasn’t as scary as you thought it may be.
Preventing a breakdown
You won’t be surprised to hear that if you look after your car, and make regular maintenance checks, you are less likely to break down. Our section on owning a car contains some more in-depth advice on looking after your car. Essentially if you make regular checks on the following – you reduce the risk of your car breaking down:
- Ensure your car has a regular service to help it run smoothly and pick up potential issues early on.
- Check your tyre condition regularly – this includes tyre pressure, tread depth and checking for signs of damage/embedded objects.
- Read our blog on changing a tyre (you may never need to do this, but do – our advice may come in handy!)
- Check your liquids – including oil, water, coolant and screenwash.
- Keep an eye on your car battery – some Autocentres offer a “free battery check” service, so it’s worth getting this done every now and then, and certainly before the winter sets in (as this is the time of year your car battery is most likely to fail).
- Don’t put off repairs – it doesn’t take long to get a feel for when something doesn’t look, feel or sound right in your car. By getting these checked, and seen to, by a garage ASAP, you’re less likely to break down because of it, and more importantly, it’ll probably cost you less.
Choose breakdown cover
There’s nothing more reassuring than knowing you can pick up the phone and someone will come to the rescue (once you’re safely on the side of the road and the engine is turned off!). By taking out Breakdown cover you can have this peace of mind. Most Breakdown providers state that they can repair most cars by the roadside, but even if they can’t – depending on the level of cover you opt for, they will at least take you to the nearest garage, back home or on to your onwards destination.
When choosing breakdown cover there are often a number of options available from a simple recovery of your vehicle and passengers to one destination, to comprehensive UK and European cover. Breakdown providers may also provide bolt-ons like misfueling rescue and key replacement, to name just a couple. Our best advice is to look at the options – talk it through with a parent or friend – and choose the one that suits your driving needs the best. For example – if you’re dad’s a mechanic and you only drive short distances near home, your needs will be very different to someone who regularly drives long distances and who’s car is essential for work!
Emergency breakdown kit
Carrying and regularly checking your car toolkit will help you be prepared if the worst happens. We don’t mean an all singing, all dancing kit to fix your car on the roadside – but carrying these items in your car will make breaking down a bit easier.
- Breakdown service contact details and insurance policy details
- Mobile phone and charger
- Spare tyre, jack and locking wheelnut (if you have one)
- Replacement bulbs (you can buy emergency light kits from most auto centres)
- Water (fresh for drinking) and a high energy snack, like cereal bars.
- Screenwash, water and oil (the oil should be new and unopened)
- Warm and waterproof clothing
- First aid kit
- Hazard/Warning triangle
- A good old-fashioned map
If you follow our advice, we hope you’ll feel a bit more confident about your next trip – safe in the knowledge that you’re prepared. If you want to read more about what to do at the time if your car does break down, we’ve written a blog with some helpful, and hopefully calming advice.