Breakdown FAQs

Below are some of the more commonly asked questions regarding breakdowns and policies. Click the question to be taken directly to the answer.

What are the common causes of a breakdown and how can I prevent them?
Which breakdown company offers the best response time?
What is covered by my breakdown policy?
What isn’t covered in my breakdown policy?

What are the common causes of a breakdown and how can I prevent them?

Flat Tyres are a very common problem; callouts are often for assistance in replacing a tyre or changing a wheel. While road debris can cause punctures the more common causes are preventable.

Low air pressure can cause handling issues and damage to the wheel; ensure your tyres are always correctly inflated. Monitor the pressure regularly and if you notice a wheel is constantly losing pressure it may indicate you have a puncture and need to replace the tyre.

Tyre tread is also an issue, with low tread you increase the chances of problems occurring; it is also illegal to drive with less than 1.6mm of tread depth. Check your tread weekly and get them replaced immediately if you reach the minimum depth.

Ensure your spare wheel, if you have one, is fully pumped up and not damaged in any way. Once you have completed your journey get your original wheel repaired immediately and replace your spare.

A flat or faulty battery is one of the biggest reasons people call for assistance. Cold weather reduces the charge in a battery so a long cold spell can drain the power, check your battery level and charge it up if it’s low. Short journeys also drain battery power, a longer journey once a week will top the battery up and will help ensure you don’t have a problem. One final cause of a drained battery is leaving the lights, radio and other electrical elements on. Ensure you switch everything off before you leave the vehicle. A jump start or recharge will fix many of these problems.

Loose or damaged battery connections will also create problems. Ensure your connections are tight, clear of rust or corrosion and covered with a layer of grease. Old batteries also cause problems, so get a new battery if you still notice problems even after trying the other preventative measures.

The car’s alternator can cause similar electrical problems. The alternator charges the battery to power your lights and other electrical parts while you drive but if there is a fault with the alternator your battery won’t receive a charge. Signs that indicate a fault include dimming of your dashboard lights and headlights; it can also cause a slowdown in your windscreen wiper speed. There’s not a lot you can do to prevent an alternator fault but you can keep track of the signs that indicate a fault and get the car serviced when you notice a problem.

If your starter motor has failed you will not be able to start the engine. By ensuring your car has regular service appointments you can help prevent a failure. Home assistance cover will help get your car going if you have a problem before you start your journey.

One surprisingly common reason for a call out is running out of fuel. It’s a common problem caused in part by the hike in fuel prices, instead of pulling in and filling up some will hang on as long as possible to reach the cheapest petrol station. Sometimes the distance is just too far and the car will run out of fuel. Roadside assistance can bring you fuel to help get you to a petrol station and fill up. Preventing this problem is straightforward; don’t skip a petrol station if your car is low on fuel.

These common problems are the ones that roadside rescue and assistance crews are trained to deal with but they do result in the majority of call outs. By ensuring your car is well maintained you can prevent these faults and ensure that you only call for assistance when it is vital.

Which breakdown company offers the best response time?

This can be one of the biggest deciding factors when it comes to deciding on a car breakdown service provider. When your car has broken down one of your first thoughts is “How long will this take me?” While the actual response times may vary depending on how many calls the company have that day and where you are they aim to arrive within their specified times. Response times are only estimates but the AA state that they aim to arrive within 30 minutes of you placing your call while the RAC claim their patrols will reach you within 40 minutes. Other companies advertise their own response times, be sure to check this when taking out a breakdown cover policy.

What is covered by my breakdown policy?

There’s so many options and variables you can select while picking a car breakdown policy that it can get confusing to get down to the basics and find out exactly what is covered in your policy. Here’s what you should roughly expect with the policies…

Standard / Roadside Cover will attempt to repair your car at the side of the road. If a repair cannot be made it will towed to the nearest garage. Some companies will contact friends or family to let them know you have broken down but are safe. There is no charge for calling out assistance however the costs for any replacement fuel or parts will be your expense.

Vehicle Recovery is the same as above but also allows you to recover the vehicle to any mainland UK address, such as your home. Vehicle recovery will also ensure your passengers are transported safely; the number of passengers the company will transport can vary between companies.

Home Call Out allows you to call assistance to your home address to help get you started. Home call out only applies to a certain distance from your home, if you break down outside of this area you will need roadside assistance.

Onward Travel is made to help you carry on with your journey. If your car breaks down the breakdown company will arrange a hire car and insurance to let you reach your destination. If you are away from home when the car breaks down the breakdown company can arrange temporary accommodation for you while the car is repaired. The terms vary between companies, some give you a fund and let you choose where to stay, others will let you pick from a list of approved places. You can usually get full details when you take out the policy.

What isn’t covered in my breakdown policy?

While your breakdown policy can seem to cover everything there are some things that can be left out which you may not be aware of. These vary between policies and companies so be sure to check when you are getting a quote. Commonly excluded things include…

Payment of replacement parts, some companies will arrange the sourcing and delivery of parts but payment of the parts themselves will fall to you. Labour charges are sometimes not included as well.

Claim charges will not exceed the market value of the vehicle; this means older, cheaper vehicles will not get a lot of expensive parts since they would be worth more than the car.

Some breakdown companies will not recover your vehicle if it’s been in an accident; most breakdown companies view this as your insurance company’s job. If you have exceeded the mileage set by your breakdown company you will not get paid out. This is also the case if you do not follow the claims procedure stated in your policy.

Pets and animals may not be covered by your recovery policy, it may be stated in your policy or it may be down to the recovery driver’s discretion. Calling several times about the same problem with the same car may lead to a lack of response as it suggests that you have not had the problem repaired since you were last helped. Another reason assistance may not come is because you have reached your maximum number of call outs. If you do really need assistance you can be charged for additional call outs.

Your policy sometimes covers what you are towing, caravans/trailers/etc, but sometimes it doesn’t, it is vital you check before setting off as any problems that arise may result in additional charges.