Breaking down is a nightmare - especially if you're on a motorway or in the middle of nowhere!
Most breakdown services will treat you as an urgent case if you're in a vulnerable situation. While you should never lie, here's what you can say to get bumped to the top of the list.
If you've broken down on a busy motorway you should certainly tell the company because there's a risk to you and other motorists.
Pull over to the hard shoulder, leave your vehicle and move to a safe distance before contacting them.
The same applies if you've broken down somewhere risky like a country road or the middle of a roundabout, or if you're posing a danger to others - like in front of a school or fire station.
You and your passengers
Some motorists and passengers will be given greater priority than others if they're in more need of help.
If you're a single girl by yourself, an elderly driver, pregnant or ill then you should definitely say so, as this could mean you're reached quicker.
If you've got passengers with you or are travelling with children, you need to tell your car breakdown cover provider because this might mean you're treated as a high priority and reached more quickly.
Some companies provide insurance and cover specifically for older drivers, so if you're on one of these policies and breakdown you should be treated as a priority by these specialist companies.
There may be times when you have to travel in extreme conditions, be it heavy rain, freezing cold or boiling hot temperatures. If you breakdown because of such conditions, many other drivers will have too, so you may have to wait for assistance.
This is why, if conditions are extreme and you need to travel, you should pack accordingly and check what the Met Office's advice is. Find out more in our guide Broken down: what to do.
If you've broken down at home your situation is likely to be treated as less serious, so you'll be bumped down the list of priorities. Even if your breakdown company can't help, you should ask them to cover the cost of being picked up by a local garage.
Other ways to speed up the call out time
Bear in mind that while roadside recovery companies might treat you as a priority in certain situations (if you let them know you're vulnerable), it's not guaranteed they'll be able to.
To boost your chances of being reached quickly make sure you give the breakdown company clear directions and even GPS co-ordinates if possible, because this will help them find you more easily.
Use motorway mile markers to let breakdown services know your exact location. These contain three key pieces of information; the motorway or A road number, the direction you're travelling in and the distance from the start of the motorway.
What if you don't have breakdown cover?
Even if you haven't got cover most companies will come out to help you, but this will cost you extra because you're not an existing customer.
To ensure they reach you as quickly as possible you should still let them know if you're vulnerable and your exact location. You can learn more from the guide Can you get breakdown cover when you have broken down?
Compare breakdown cover companies
If you don't yet have breakdown cover it's worth comparing car breakdown cover companies to find one that offers a good deal for you.
This could be based upon how much their cover costs, what features their cover includes (and what extras you can add), what type of cover you need (is it for you, a couple or a family?) and average call-out times.
To find the best breakdown cover take a look at our comparison table and check breakdown company reviews from other users.