Nobody enjoys being stuck at the side of the road after their car breaks down. Invariably, it happens when you're late for an important meeting, it's raining or snowing, and it's dark outside.
Car Breakdown Membership
Membership of a breakdown recovery such as RAC Car Breakdown Cover service will help rescue you, with a mechanic either fixing your car at the side of the road or ferrying you and your vehicle to an appropriate destination. However, breakdowns typically occur at the worst possible time - in bad weather, for example - and you'll find the sudden demand on the breakdown service means you may have to wait a while to be rescued.
Minimise Risk of Breaking Down
With that in mind, it is worth taking some basic steps to minimise the risk of suffering a breakdown and to reduce the time you're stuck without wheels while your vehicle is being repaired. An ounce of prevention can go a long way when the alternative is a ruined family holiday or a broken business engagement.
Inspect your Vehicle
By far the most important step drivers can take is to ensure that their vehicle is maintained in top condition. In addition to having your car serviced regularly using quality parts and consumables (oil, lubricants, coolant and so on), always inspect your car to make sure nothing is obviously wrong before departing on an extended trip.
Correctly Inflated Tyres
Make sure you know the correct tyre inflation figures for your vehicle. Use a quality tyre gauge and don't forget to check the spare. Inspect the tyre treads for nails/screws, stones and other material that can damage the tyre. Make sure the tyre valves are properly seated and protected by caps.
Is Your Car Jack in the Boot?
Check the car’s jack and tool kit to make sure everything is present and in working condition. Make sure you can remove any wheel covers and that you are able to loosen the wheel nuts. Few things are as frustrating as having a roadside tyre change stymied by a frozen wheel nut or a stubborn wheel cover.
Carry Spare Fuses and Light Bulbs
Always carry spare fuses and light bulbs of the correct types and ratings for your vehicle. Check the owner’s manual for advice and make sure you know how to find the car’s fuses. Carry a small quality electric torch under the dashboard in case you need it in the middle of the night, which is when these things typically go wrong.
It may well also be worth buying a number of commonly-needed spares to keep in your car’s boot. Especially with unusual or specialised car models, breakdown services may not have easy access to commonly-needed parts.
Many modern cars use electric cooling fans and electric water pumps. For other cars, it is worth carrying a spare fan belt, spark plugs, and distributor cap. They shouldn’t take up too much space in the boot and could mean the difference between completing your trip as planned or ending up at a garage.
Owners of classic cars will probably be well aware of the need to carry hard-to-source spares. You will want to carry things like ignition points, a clutch cable, an accelerator cable, a fuel pump diaphragm and valve cover gaskets. This might seem like overkill but you are likely to be relieved to have carried ‘all that junk’ in the back should you breakdown.
Emergency Breakdown Kit
Finally, it is vitally important to ensure everyone in the car remains safe after a breakdown. An emergency breakdown kit is worth having. During winter weather, make sure to carry everything you need to stay warm. Bring extra food and water, and make sure your mobile phone is fully-charged.
High Visibility Jacket
In France, it is a legal requirement to carry a high-visibility jacket inside the car's cabin. Though this is not required in the UK, it is probably a good idea, no matter where you drive. A warning triangle and a good electric torch should always be carried in your car. A 29 Piece Roadside Emergency Kit Bag is available for less than £9.00 from Amazon