What to do when my car breaks down? This is a common thought among motorist, and at some time in your life it is possible that you may experience a vehicle breakdown, especially during the colder months of the year when cars can run less smoothly. If you do ever find yourself in this unfortunate situation, the best thing to do is not to panic and prepare yourself as much as possible, so you are never caught off guard, and can hopefully stay calm, safe, and deal with the situation in the right way.

Car Breakdown

A Rare Occurrence

It is a very rare occurrence that a car breaks down with no warning. Obviously, you should be aware of what the dashboard lights mean, but also watch out for things like loss of power, unusual noises, vibrations and changes in the handling of the vehicle. If you notice anything unusual, get it checked out as soon as possible. It will save you hassle and money in the long run, however, even the best maintained of vehicles can develop sudden problems whilst in transit.

Safety First

At the first sign of trouble, try to get off the main road. The last thing you need is for your motor to be causing an obstruction or for you or your passengers to be trying to exit with traffic speeding past on both sides. Turn off main roads on to side streets. From a motorway, leave at the next exit or pull into the services.

Steer the car as far to the left as you can get, either into the kerb or on the hard shoulder, then stop with the wheels pointing left. Switch on your hazard warning lights. Turn off the engine. On a side street, as long as there is no danger of fire, you can wait in the car. If you are on the hard shoulder, however, you and your passengers should exit the vehicle on the passenger side and get onto the verge, on the other side of the barrier, if possible.


It is vitally important that the vehicle can be seen. Keep the hazard lights flashing and switch on the side lights. If you are outside the vehicle, make sure that you are not obscuring the lights. The biggest danger is that you will be hit from the rear by another vehicle. Do not stand between your vehicle and oncoming traffic. If you have high visibility clothing in the car, put it on. When everybody is in a safe position, call for assistance.

Who are you going to call?

To a large extent, this is going to depend on where you are and what, if any, breakdown cover you’ve got. The obvious people to call would be your breakdown cover provider; AA, RAC, Green Flag, Swinton etc. If you are in a hire car, the hire company will have their own arrangements. Close to home, you might prefer to call your usual mechanic. If you have no access to any of the above, you can call the police, but remember, unless you are in a particularly dangerous area, a breakdown is not a priority. Make sure you know exactly where you are. Look for street signs or driver location signs on the motorway.


Once you and your vehicle have been recovered and the motor has gone in for repair, there is every chance that you’ll need to hire a replacement. If you’re in the Reading and Newbury areas, please get in touch with the team at Caversham Vehicle Hire. We offer a variety of vehicles available to hire and all at affordable rates. Simply contact us today for more information.

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