21 Tips to Help You Through a Car Breakdown

Prevention is better than the cure. This is especially true in the case of vehicle breakdowns as repairs can sometimes cost you a fortune. The best way to keep your car from breaking down is keeping it in top shape for as long as possible. This means making all the regular checks  and making sure that the regular servicing covers everything it should.

Fully equipping your vehicle with all the usual tools can also make a huge difference. For example if you are equipped for a simple tyre change this will make the difference between a 20 minute driving break and a 2 hour wait at a garage accompanied with a pretty big bill.

There are also other measures you can take in order to be in control in case of a car breakdown. These measures include:

1.    Arranging for car breakdown cover.  While traveling abroad make sure your breakdown cover extends to your trip. Contact your insurance provider to find out if it does. If it doesen’t you should arrange for a separate insurance policy.
2.    Keeping a road-map in the car.  Even if you have a GPS device you should still have a roadmap in the car for any situation. If you have a roadmap you can easily find out and explain where you are if the navigation loses battery or signal.
3.    Making sure your phone is always charged. Losing contact if your car breaks down on a less traveled road can be a bad experience. Having an in-car charger will ensure your phone battery never runs low.
4.    Keeping the number of the breakdown cover provider at hand. While the number can be found on the insurance policy it is also wise to save it on the phone’s memory.
5.    Keeping a waterproof reflective jacket in the car. This will be very useful if you breakdown on the motorway on rainy weather and having to wait for help.
6.    Keeping a reflective red warning triangle in the car. A reflective red warning triangle and reflective jacket is mandatory in most European countries and having on even if it’s not is very wise. These triangles should be placed at a distance of about 50 meters behind the car.
7.    Preparing for winter breakdowns. Keep some warm clothes, a blanket and some chocolate bars in the car while driving in the winter. This will help you stay warm and fed while waiting for help.
8.    Keeping walking boots in the car.  If your car breaks down in the road you probably don’t have to wait or walk to a gas station in high heels or a pair of nice leather shoes.

In the case of points 5 and 6, if you are European your car should already be equipped with the reflective jacket, red triangle, safety medical kit and fire extinguisher, as is the law. These 8 safety measures should be checked off the list before setting out.


If you’re experiencing a car breakdown on the motorway here is what you should do:

1.    Immediately pull to the left. As soon as you feel something’s wrong pull left on the safety lane and turn on the hazard lights.
2.    Aim for an emergency phone. If you have an idea what the problem with the car is and think you can make it to the next emergency phone you should do that. Use the phone to contact the policy. They will know immediately where you are.
3.    Don’t try to fix the car yourself. Unless you are a trained mechanic you shouldn’t try fixing the car yourself. Calling a car breakdown recovery service is the best choice.
4.    Stationary hints. When your car is stationary it’s best to turn the front wheels towards the verge. This way if your car is somehow hit from behind it will not move onto the motorway.
5.    Get your passengers our of the car. Have your passengers exit the car by the left-hand doors (right if in Europe). The passengers should then sit behind the barrier while waiting for help.
6.    Put the red triangle 147 feet behind the car.
7.    Call for help. If your mobile is out of battery or service you can use the motorway emergency phones to call the police. Look for the nearest roadside marker to find out where you are. You will find a roadside marker every 100 meters.
8.    Wait near the vehicle for assistance. Make sure to stay away from traffic while waiting for help, preferably behind the barrier.


Having your car break down on a town road rather than on the motorway can be just as dangerous. Here’s what you should do if the car breaks down on a town road:

1.    Pull over to a safe spot.
2.    Turn on the hazard lights.
3.    Place the red reflective triangle.
4.    Call for assistance.
5.    Patiently wait for help to arrive.

Hopefully you will not be required to use any of the tips we listed above anytime soon. But just as we said at the start, prevention is better than the cure so keeping these in mind always will help you if your car does break down eventually. From the team at Total Car Recovery we wish you a safe trip.