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Can you get breakdown cover when you have broken down?

Martin Lane Photo
Written by Martin Lane, Managing Editor

10 September 2018

Having your car break down mid-journey can be very frustrating, especially if you don't have breakdown cover. Here are your options.

Take out breakdown cover

Even if you are not an existing customer you can call a breakdown service for help.

Many breakdown providers offer instant cover, which means you can take out a policy and get assistance straight away. You can find instant breakdown cover policies here.

However, instant cover can cost more than a standard breakdown policy, with some providers charging a one off fee of up to £110 on top of the cost of signing up.

Broken down at home?

If you have broken down at home and have other means of getting where you need to go, signing up for breakdown cover online could be a cheaper option.

Most breakdown cover policies will not cover call outs within the first 24 hours, so if you can hold out for that long you can compare breakdown cover, pay a much cheaper price for your policy and avoid new member instant call out charges.

Here is how to work out what breakdown cover is right for you

By the roadside?

If you have broken down without cover you can compare providers offering instant cover or call the numbers below to pay for a breakdown service to come out to your vehicle.

  • AA: 0800 88 77 66

  • RAC: 0800 197 7815

  • Green Flag: 0845 246 1557

You cannot buy most instant cover policies online, so you will need to call the provider to sign up and give them the details of your breakdown.

Stay safe

Before you begin to worry about getting your vehicle back on the road you need to make sure you and your passengers are safe.

This could simply involve putting your hazard warning lights on and moving the car to the side of the road, but if you have lost power on a duel carriageway or motorway you need to take extra care.

Find out exactly what to do if your vehicle breaks down here

Can you fix the problem yourself?

Some problems can be fixed at the roadside without the need for further help or a history in car mechanics.

However, you need to make sure it is safe before you try any repairs. For example, changing a tyre on the hard shoulder of the motorway is not worth the risk.

Here are some of the most common quick fixes you might be able to sort yourself:

Flat tyre

Changing a tyre is something that can usually be done without calling for help. You will need a car jack and most cars have these in the boot.

Dropped exhaust

If your exhaust has dropped from its holding and is dragging on the road you will need to refasten it before you continue.

Using rigid metal like a coat hanger or similar, you may be able to reattach the exhaust to the main shaft and get your car to a nearby garage.

Blown radiator hose

If your radiator hose blows you may be able to temporarily patch it up using strong self-sealing tape.

You need to switch your engine off, wait for it too cool down and then wipe the hose to ensure the tape gets the best level of adhesion possible.

You are then ready to continue your journey, although you should stop at your nearest garage as soon as you can.

Flat battery

If your car will not start because you have a flat battery you should be able to get the engine going with a pair of jump leads or a portable car jump starter to give the battery plugs a jolt.

For a step by step guide, watch this video.

Call for help

Use your mobile phone to call for help if you have broken down without cover.

Family and friends are a good place to start and may be able to tow you to a local garage to get your car looked at by a mechanic.

If you have run out of fuel or need a jump start, calling a friend could have you back on the road quicker and cheaper than the alternatives.

Can you safely leave the car?

Depending on where you are and whether it is safe you might want to consider leaving your car until you can arrange for it to be towed or repaired.

You should only leave your vehicle if it is safe to do so. It should not be causing any obstruction to traffic or breaking any road regulations.

It also makes sense to add a note to the windscreen stating the vehicle has broken down with a contact telephone number in case the authorities want to get in touch with you.

By comparing breakdown cover providers, you can find a policy that gives you the level of cover you need at a price you can afford.

Compare breakdown cover

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