A Guide To Breakdown Assistance
Never Be Caught Out Again
Picture this: you’re driving along until all of a sudden, your car starts to behave strangely. It could be a flat tyre, or maybe you are losing power. One thing’s for sure - it usually happens at an inconvenient time. No matter where you break down, it is an inconvenience. So, to help you be prepared, we've got some suggestions on what to do in this situation to get you back on the road again as quickly as possible.
What To Do On The Roadside
Breaking Down On The Motorway
If your car starts to break down on a motorway, there are a number of safety precautions you have to take. Remember that the safety of yourself and other road users is important at all times.
- If you feel that there is something out of the ordinary and your car isn’t performing as it usually would be, slow down. This is the first step in dealing with your breakdown in a safe manner. This can be done by slowly lifting your foot off the accelerator. It is important to note that you should not panic and slam on the brakes, as this could cause an accident
- When it comes to road accidents on the motorway, the hard shoulder is your best friend. However, the hard shoulder is for emergency purposes only. It should only be used if your car is unable to travel any further. To use the hard shoulder you should indicate with plenty of notice, stop your car as far left as possible. Once you are in a safe position, away from the road, turn your hazard lights on.
- If you can, exit at the next junction or, if this is not possible, pull over onto the hard shoulder. There are mile markers along the motorway, so make note of where you are if you need to call for breakdown assistance. Once again, turn on your hazard lights once you’re in a safe position.
- Exit your car and stand behind the barriers. Make sure that you are visible at all times, but also as far away as possible from the vehicle.
- Never attempt to fix the issue yourself. Either call for help or walk to the nearest roadside assistance phone box, remaining behind the barriers at all times, which are located at regular intervals along the roadside.
- Turn your wheels away from the road, towards the verge. That way, if anyone hits your car, it will roll away from the traffic rather than into it.
Breaking Down On National /Local Roads
If you do break down on national or local roads, there are some slight changes to what you should do compared to the above.
- If you have an emergency triangle in your vehicle, make sure to set it up far enough from your car so as to warn oncoming vehicles.
- Make a note of where you are, so that you can contact breakdown assist. If possible, pull into a nearby lay-by, or get as far off the road as possible.
Breaking Down In A City
No one wants to be the person who is mentioned on drive-time radio for holding up Dublin, Cork or any other city’s traffic due to a breakdown. However, if your car does break down on any of the roads around the cities of Ireland, here is what you need to be aware of.
- If you find your car coming to a sudden or imminent halt, then you should turn on your hazard lights immediately to let those around you know that you are having an issue.
- If you have a flat tyre, don't cause more damage by trying to drive your car to the nearest garage. Pull over to the side of the road and call for help.
- Although you might feel pressured to try and fix the issue yourself, you should remain within your vehicle at all times until breakdown assistance or emergency services arrive.
What To Keep In Your Boot
There are a few items that are worth keeping in your boot that will help you out if you happen to break down. These are our top picks:
Car Emergency Kit
Invest in a simple car emergency kit as it can be used all year round. Do a quick search online to find one that you think suits your needs. Your emergency needs can vary during the year so stock it up with different requirements depending on the time of the year. A basic car emergency kit could include a high visibility jacket, emergency triangle, change of clothes, bottled water, torch and food.
A Road Map
If you break down in a location with limited reception, you might use up a lot of your phone battery trying to locate where you are on Google Maps. Put a paper road map in your car so that you can conserve your phone’s battery for other, more vital uses.
How To Prevent A Break Down
There are a few things you can do to prevent breakdowns as much as possible. If you make sure each of these are done before long journeys, the chances of this happening could be reduced significantly.
Three Fluids To Check Regularly
- Engine oil – This should be checked once a month. It is a very straight-forward process. Open the bonnet, find the dipstick and pull it out. Use a cloth to clean it off, dip it in again and pull it out again. If it’s below the safe level, you’ll need to add more oil. Change the oil as often as your owner handbook recommends.
- Coolant – This keeps your engine cool, and without it, your car will overheat. Check it twice a year by opening the radiator cap when your engine is cool. If it’s below the safe line, then add more coolant.
- Brake fluid – If your brakes ever feel strange, then this is the first thing to check. It’s on the driver’s side of the car in the brake fluid reservoir, and you can check it just by looking at the outside of the container. If it’s brown, not golden, then it needs to be replaced.
Check Your Battery
A flat or failing battery is the single biggest cause of breakdowns, so keeping an eye on your battery and making sure your lights and electrics are off before you switch off the engine is a really simple and effective way to avoid them. The battery of your car can often be compared to the battery of your phone. For example, if you make a lot of short journeys, try to go for a longer trip once in a while to properly recharge it. Carrying jump leads in your car in case of a flat battery is also a good idea.
Check Your Fuel Levels
Breakdowns can be caused by empty fuel tanks, so fill up before the low-fuel warning light comes on. Surprisingly enough, putting the wrong fuel in your car is a pretty common error. Every year thousands of motorists put the wrong fuel in their car. If you aren’t sure which fuel your car uses, consult your car user manual.
Check Your Tyres
People can often underestimate how important it is to check your tyres on a regular basis, since they strongly affect performance and fuel economy. In your vehicle handbook, you can find the required tyre pressure for your car. Having the correct tyre pressure can not only keep you safe on the road but also save you a lot of money on petrol. The wheel alignment should also be checked regularly as it can cause the tyres to wear rapidly and unevenly.