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Experts Share What to Do If Your Car BreaksDown in the Cold Weather

posted on 29/11/2023
Experts Share What to Do If Your Car BreaksDown in the Cold Weather

Colder weather often triggers a rise in car breakdowns, with rain and frost impacting driving conditions. And those vehicles which have not been well maintained over the summer months are particularly at risk during harsher weather conditions.

In fact, searches for 'breakdown recovery near me' are up by a staggering 200% compared to this time last year, while searches for 'breakdown cover UK' have risen by 60% over the last three months.

To help those who may find themselves in this situation, the experts at Bristol Street Motors have shared what to do if your car breaks down.

What to do if your car breaks down on a motorway:

Head left

The first thing to do is remain calm. As soon as you are aware that your car is breaking down, you need to turn your hazards on to notify other road users that you may be slowing down, moving lanes or stopping.

If you can, try to head left. This means aiming for a hard shoulder or the nearest exit to avoid causing an obstruction for other road users. 

If there is no hard shoulder, such as on a smart motorway, you should try to head for the nearest exit or an Emergency Refuge Area (ERA). These are roughly every 1.5 miles and can be used if you break down. If you cannot reach one of these, you should head as far left as possible.

Exit your vehicle promptly

Once you have made it to a safe place, stop the car and then leave the vehicle promptly and safely. 

If visibility is low, you should keep your sidelights on and wear your brightest or most reflective clothing. When exiting the car, always try to leave via the passenger side as this is generally the safest option. Once you have exited the vehicle, climb over the safety barrier, and try to stay a safe distance away from any traffic.

If you have not been able to get into the hard shoulder, ERA or left lane then you should not exit the vehicle.

Contact the services

Once you have made it to a position where you and your vehicle are as safe as possible, you need to contact your breakdown provider or Highways England on 0300 123 5000. 

If your car is in any of the live lanes on a motorway, you need to contact 999, even if you have made it to a safe position.

Then, while waiting, do not return to your car unless absolutely essential.

What to do if you break down somewhere else?

If you break down somewhere else, then there will most likely be no hard shoulder, so the steps differ slightly. 

Pull over if you can, for example into a lay-by or onto a quieter side road. 

Turn on your hazard lights to indicate to other drivers that you are there.

Exit your vehicle, if it is safe to do so and stand behind a barrier or as far away from the road as you can get.

Find your triangle warning sign and place it 45m (roughly 60 paces) away from the rear end of your vehicle. However, it is important to remember that you should never do this on any kind of motorway. 

Ring your breakdown company once it is safe to do so and let them know where you are. If you do not pay for breakdown cover, you can still call and ask for emergency assistance. 

Calum Thomson, Aftersales Director at Bristol Street Motors has commented:

"Knowing what to do is important in this sort of situation. If you have never experienced breaking down before it may be a little scary. The number one thing to remember is to not panic and focus on getting yourself to a safe location before calling for assistance. 

"Unfortunately, over time there will be a certain level of wear that cannot be prevented. However, we would recommend getting your car regularly serviced to help identify any faults as early as possible to avoid the likelihood of breaking down.

"And as we are approaching winter, we would also advise always keeping something warm and reflective in your car in the event you do have to vacate your vehicle and wait for assistance by the roadside."

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