What to do if your car breaks down

Breakdowns are stressful and something we hope we never have to go through. Although it's impossible to prevent a breakdown, you can reduce the risk by keeping your car well-maintained with regular servicing, winter engine checks and the usual checking of oil, water and petrol before you set off. However, in the unfortunate event of a breakdown here are Diamond's top tips to see you through it safely.

General breakdown

  • Avoid stopping in dangerous places like roundabouts or around a blind bend - if you can keep driving safely for a short distance, drop your speed right down, turn on your hazard lights and try to pull off the road completely or onto a straight section
  • If you have a reflective emergency triangle in your car, display it at least 45 metres behind your vehicle. Don't do it on motorways as it's dangerous
  • If you have to stop on the road do not attempt to fix the vehicle yourself - call your breakdown service
  • If you are involved in a crash that obstructs the road or involves injuries call 999 as soon as possible

Breakdowns on a motorway

The most important thing is safety - yours, your passengers' and other road users'. If your car develops a problem on the motorway, you should:

  • Leave the motorway at the next exit, if possible, or stop at a service area
  • Try your best to pull onto the hard shoulder and keep your wheels facing to the left (away from passing traffic) if you have to stop immediately
  • Try to stop near an emergency phone
  • Turn on your hazard lights
  • Get out of the car via the passenger door and stand as far away from it as possible
  • Never attempt repairs if you're on the hard shoulder

Call and wait for help

It doesn't matter how handy you are with a spanner, attempting to fix a car on the hard shoulder is very dangerous - just call for help instead.

If you are near an emergency phone use that over your mobile - they give the operator your exact location and prevent you from panicking if trying to explain your location on a long stretch of generic motorway.

If you need to use your mobile phone, try to give the operator the number on the nearest marker post so they can find you easily.

If you've walked for an emergency phone or marker post, go back to your car but remember to wait on the grass verge or bank - never sit inside the car.

Did you know 1 in 10 motorway crashes involve vehicles parked on the hard shoulder?

You may not want to stand out in the rain while you wait for breakdown recovery but it is much safer to do so, so pop your coat on and wait it out.

And finally

  • Always carry a mobile phone so that you can call for help or let loved ones know where you are
  • Keep a map to hand to help you explain where you are when calling for help
  • Put together an emergency kit for your car. Include a warning triangle, torch, warm clothes, a blanket, a reflective jacket and water
  • Make sure you have breakdown cover - with Diamond you can add it onto your policy to give you that extra peace of mind. Click here for more information on Diamond breakdown options.

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