DoneDeal Breakdown Advice
We all know cars can break down due to a variety of reasons including: engine issues, battery problems, transmission failure, overheating, and general wear and tear. It's important to properly maintain and care for your vehicle to reduce the risk of breakdowns. Take a puncture for example or perhaps running out of fuel! Who do you call, what do you do, and more importantly where is it safe to pull over? On your average back road its pretty straight forward in the sense that if you feel a problem with your vehicle you can usually find a safe spot to pull over and make the necessary checks or phone calls. What’s not so simple is when something goes wrong on the motorway! Here we highlight a few things you should do to ensure you deal with a motorway breakdown as safely as possible.
1. Slow down.
If you feel a change in your car’s performance indicating you may break down, start to decrease your speed, but don’t slam on the brakes as it could cause a collision. Instead, slowly lift off of the accelerator and indicate to your left to signal your direction of travel all whilst using calm, controlled braking to slow down gradually.
2. When to use the hard shoulder
Do use the hard shoulder if your car literally won’t go any further and you can’t safely drive to a place further off the motorway. Don’t use the hard shoulder to stop for any other purpose than an emergency, and that includes toilet breaks, snack breaks or to make a non-breakdown related phone call. It is not really safe to use the hard shoulder to stop for any other purpose than an emergency
3. Stopping safely on the hard shoulder
Do continue to indicate as you prepare to stop as far to the left as possible. It is recommended that you turn your wheels to the left and put your hazard and sidelights on. If for any reason brakes became an issue or the car was hit from the rear the wheels locked to the left should prevent the car from entering the busy motorway. Don’t park over towards the right hand side of the shoulder, switch off your lights or clamber out via the driver’s side, otherwise you risk being hit by traffic.
4. What to do once safely parked after a motorway breakdown
Do get out of the car via the driver’s side and ensure your passengers all do the same, whatever the weather. Don’t take your seatbelts off, and sit inside the car while you wait for help to arrive. If for any reason you physically can’t leave the car, then you must have your hazards on. Find the nearest emergency phone on your side of the road to call the emergency services or your breakdown service.
5. Once out of the vehicle
Do get off the hard shoulder and stand on the embankment. Then use your mobile, or find the nearest emergency phone on your side of the road, to call the emergency services or your breakdown service. Don’t in any circumstances walk across the motorway to use that tantalisingly close emergency phone you’ve spotted on the other side, it’s both illegal and highly dangerous.
Of course nobody wants or sets out to have a breakdown and we hope you don’t ever have to put these tips into practice, but preparation is key to dealing with unexpected car trouble on a back road or motorway. Carry out regular vehicle checks including inspecting the condition of wiper blades, ensure all light bulbs are working and check oil, anti-freeze, water levels are sufficient. In addition, make sure that all tyres (including the spare tyre!) have sufficient air and meet the legal minimum thread depth of 1.6mm. At DoneDeal we advise that you have the best emergency service breakdown cover possible under your car insurance policy for that extra peace of mind!