What to do in the event of a breakdown

Stay calm, stay safe and get help when your car breaks down

It’s that time of year when everyone’s on the road, with most people heading off on their well-earned holidays.

If you’re a new motorist, it’s all doubly exciting but also a bit daunting, especially if you’re unlucky enough to break down en route.

So what should you do in the event of a breakdown? Here’s our handy checklist to help you stay calm, stay safe and get help:

1. Get to a safe place

If at all possible, move your vehicle off the road away from the traffic and turn off the engine. If you’re on a motorway, leave at the next exit if you can. Otherwise, pull on to the hard shoulder or into a layby.

2. Be visible

Turn on the car’s hazard warning lights, and keep the sidelights on if it’s dark or foggy. Wear a high-vis jacket when you get out of the vehicle.

If you have a warning triangle, place it at least 50 metres behind your car on the same side of the road. But don’t use warning triangles on motorway hard shoulders – it’s not safe.

3. Leave your vehicle

Even if the weather’s bad, you need to get out of your car and off the road to avoid the danger of being hit by other traffic. Leave on the left-hand side and head for safety on to a grass verge or bank if you can.

4. Call for help

You’ll almost certainly have a mobile phone to call a breakdown service. If not, or if there’s no signal, you’ll find bright orange emergency phones by the sides of Britain’s motorways. They’re connected to Highways England, who’ll arrange for help. Give them as much information about your location as you can.

5. Leave the car alone

If you’re tempted to return to the car to try and get it started again while you’re waiting for help – don’t! It simply isn’t worth the risk, and you’ll only complicate things for the experts who are on their way to help you.

Above all, stay calm and stay safe. Breakdowns are an annoyance, but they’re not the end of the world. Be patient and help will come.

Do you have Breakdown Cover through 1ST CENTRAL? We recently changed our breakdown provider, so depending on when you bought your policy with us, your Breakdown Cover will either be provided by 1ST CENTRAL Rescue or the RAC.

For Breakdown Cover policies that started on or after 12th September 2019, you can contact the RAC:

  • UK breakdown: 0333 159 8714
  • European breakdown: 00 33 472 43 52 55

For Breakdown Cover policies that started before 12th September 2019, you can contact 1ST CENTRAL Rescue:

  • UK breakdown: 0333 043 2005
  • European breakdown: 00 44 120 671 4806

It’s important that you know who you’re covered by, so take a look at your policy documents to see who your cover is with. You can view your documents easily in your customer portal.

Need to add Breakdown Cover to your policy? Not a problem, you can add this at any time during the year via your customer portal or by calling 0333 043 2066.


  1. Kamil says:

    The accompanying image shows a man leaning into the engine bay of the car. Notice that his tie is dangerously close to where the rotating fan blades would be (if the engine was running). During my engineering course, one of the first things we were told about being near machinery was to ensure there was no dangling clothes, jewelry or hair next to rotating parts !

    • Sal says:

      Hi Kamil, thats probably because it looks lile he isn’t the guy fixing the car, he is the driver whos car has broken down, hence why he is on the phone probably calling for help. Not everyone has engineering degrees and I certainly wouldn’t have known that either. So thanks for the info, we can all keep that in mind!

  2. folajimi apara says:

    Good tips to give your customers periodically. Thumb up for you.

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