Welcome to Best Breakdown Cover UK, a site that discusses the UK breakdown cover options currently available.
Breakdown Cover Providers Compared
Why get breakdown cover?
Only by being a member of a breakdown organisation can you have the possibility of your vehicle being fixed at the roadside. Success rates for repairing your vehicle at the roadside are high, and a successful roadside repair means you lose a minimum amount of time from your busy schedule.
If you drive without any breakdown cover and break down a long way from home, then the costs of recovering your car can be significant. A breakdown cover policy protects you against a large recovery bill.
Call out times are low. The RAC aims to reach you in 40 minutes.
Peace of mind. If you have an old and unreliable car, it's nice to know that professional assistance will be on hand if necessary.
It's safer to let the professionals help you in an emergency situation. Attempting to change a tyre on busy roads is dangerous. They are experienced in how to best deal with a car breakdown and have plenty of experience in performing the recovery as safely as possible. They can also position their recovery vans to give more protection when they are working on your car. Breaking down on a busy road can be a scary experience and it's a comfort to have someone on hand who has plenty of experience of such a situation.
The technology used in modern cars means the reasons for a breakdown are often very complex, so a breakdown professional is usually required. Gone are the days when most car breakdowns could be tackled by an enthusiastic amateur mechanic. Most modern cars contain sophisticated electronics and you often need sophisticated equipment and a laptop to diagnose and correct the fault.
What are the major breakdown recovery services operating in the UK?
The AA, The RAC and Green Flag.
Tips for Getting Cheap Breakdown Cover
As usual, don't take the first breakdown cover quote you receive, but shop around and compare deals so that you can be sure you're getting the cheapest breakdown recovery quote.
Often you will receive a discount if you buy online.
How do I decide what is the best breakdown recovery service?
You can ask the company the following questions:
How many recovery agents are on call?
What is their average response time?
What percentage of repairs do they carry out at the roadside?
You can ask friends for their experiences of recovery services. Questions you could ask them are:
- Were the staff polite?
- Did they turn up quickly?
- Did they get them going again from the roadside?
Note that RAC can pinpoint you from your mobile phone signal, so they can find you even if you don’t know where you are.Their special software starts diagnosing your problem the moment you call them.
If it's important to you, you might like to ask your prospective breakdown provider whether they will provide recovery in the event of:
- Running out of fuel.
What types of breakdown cover are available?
There are a number of different types of breakdown cover available. Below we give a general overview of possible options for policies, but note that exact features will vary from provider to provider:
Basic Roadside Assistance
The breakdown company will attend and attempt to fix your car at the roadside. If your car cannot be fixed, then a tow to the local garage is usually provided by most companies.
If you would not be satisfied with recovery to the nearest garage only, you will need to upgrade your policy to provide national recovery.
A basic policy like this will not include fixing your car at home as you have to pay more for this. There will be a clause in your basic policy saying you have to be a certain distance away from home before the breakdown service will attend.
Help in an accident may be included, in which case you can call your breakdown provider for a tow to the nearest garage. Note however, if the Police have been called, the breakdown company may not be able to help for legal reasons.
This gives you cover if your car won't start at home. Note that home cover is not included on basic roadside recovery policies, so you have to upgrade to home start if you want it.
This extends the basic roadside cover to take your car and a specified number of passengers to your chosen destination, which is usually allowed to be anywhere in the UK. Recovery to any UK destination may be particularly important to you if you are a business traveller.
- Nationwide UK roadside assistance cover only (no home cover included, i.e. you have to be one mile away from your home address).
- 24 hour roadside rescue.
- Onward travel to any UK destination. This will allow you to continue your journey by train or hire car, and provide accommodation.
- Recovery of up to 7 passengers.
- Replacement vehicle for up to 24 hours, overnight accommodation or onward travel.
- European breakdown cover (some with repatriation of passengers to the UK).
- Tow to a local garage where no repair is possible on the same day.
- Business breakdown cover.
- Breakdown cover for leasing and contract hire fleets.
- Breakdown cover and taxi and minicab drivers.
- Note you can either cover the vehicle or the person. Cover the vehicle and anybody driving it will be covered. If you cover by person then you can benefit from breakdown cover when you are driver or passenger of any vehicle.
How can you choose the best breakdown cover for you?
You will need to decide whether you want cover for a given vehicle or for yourself as a person. If you get cover for yourself as a person, it means you will be covered when you're driving or are the passenger in any vehicle.
If you are going for a vehicle-based policy, see how many vehicles you are allowed to add to the policy.
If you are going for a person-based policy, see if you are allowed to add other people to the policy too. You can usually add other people if they live at the same address as you, and it may be that you can add your partner to the breakdown policy free of charge.
Consider how important it is to you that your car is fixed at the side of the road. If this is important to you, then the RAC and AA are probably best at doing this, as they have the best equipped recovery vans.
How reliable is your car?
Any other things to bear in mind when choosing a provider?
If you have an usually long or wide vehicle, check that the provider will recover such a large vehicle. A typical length limit is 5.5m.
What if I don't have breakdown cover, can I still call one of the major breakdown recovery services?
Yes, if you have broken down you can call up one of the recovery services and join them straightaway, but this will cost more than joining them normally. This additional cost is understandable as if it did not cost more then people would not be sensible and arrange their breakdown cover in advance.
What if I want a cheap breakdown recovery service?
Make sure your breakdown cover includes only what you need, so you're not paying for services that you won't make use of. E.g. some people won't require Home Start.
We hope to bring you details of some of the cheapest breakdown cover policies shortly.
What options are there for motorcycle breakdown cover?
Green Flag and The AA cover motorcycles.
What are common causes of car breakdowns?
Common causes of car breakdowns include:
Poor road surfaces, which can cause punctures, wheel and suspension damage.
Punctures are common. Note that if your car has alloy wheels it may have been fitted with Locking Wheel Nuts to help protect the wheels from theft. These Locking Wheel Nuts can only be removed with a special matching tool, so make sure you carry this tool with you when on a journey. There may be exclusions in the breakdown cover policy which apply if you do not have the special tool necessary to remove your Locking Wheel Nut.
People getting locked out of the car.
Accidental immobiliser activation.
Running out of fuel.
Some people misinterpret warning lights and call a breakdown service. If possible, keep your car handbook to hand so that you can determine what the warning lights mean.
A lack of basic car maintenance. If you haven't performed basic car maintenance regularly you increase your chances of a breakdown, e.g. if you haven't checked your tyre pressures you increase your chances of a puncture.
Putting the wrong fuel into the car. If you realise you have put the wrong fuel in your car, e.g. diesel into your petrol engined car, then you should stop the car immediately as soon as it is safe to do so to avoid any further damage to the engine.
How can you minimise the chances of a car breakdown occurring?
Check your tyre pressures regularly. Making sure your tyres are at the correct pressure will minimise unnecessary wear. Your car handbook will tell you the correct tyre pressures to run, and there will often be a sticker inside the driver's door frame showing the correct tyre pressures for your vehicle.
Check the condition of your tyres before starting your journey.
Remember to get your car serviced regularly.
Drive your car gently and you will avoid unnecessary wear on the car components and should minimise the chances of mechanical failure.
Check the various fluid levels in your car regularly, e.g. oil levels, washer fluid levels, brake fluid levels and before going on a long journey to avoid problems caused by low fluid levels. If you get an oil warning light on whilst driving, you should pull over as soon as it is safe to do so and call your breakdown recovery service - continuing to drive with an oil warning light on can cause catastrophic damage to your engine.
What regular maintenance should be performed on a car?
Check the condition of your tyres and ensure that you have sufficient tread depth (as at April 2009 the law requires at least 1.6mm across three quarters of the tyre tread width around the entire circumference of the tyre, although this is just a minimum requirement).
Check the condition of your spare tyre. Inspect your jack and wheel brace if you are going to attempt to change a car tyre yourself.
Check the operation of all exterior lights.
Check the front and rear wiper blades for any splitting or wear.
Check the fluid levels in your car, i.e. water levels and oil levels.
Check that windscreen washers are correctly adjusted.
Check that your battery terminals are securely fastened and free of any corrosion. Check that your battery is securely mounted within the engine bay and has not come loose.
Check the condition of your car keys. If it has become worn then order a replacement, as worn keys can wear out the locks and cause them to jam.
Bank Holiday Driving Tips from the RAC
- Plan your route before getting in the car and have alternative routes thought out in case you encounter delays. A free route planner is available at the RAC website.
- Remember to allow extra time for your journey at Bank Holidays, especially if you are travelling to a popular resort or you intend to travel at peak times.
- Check that you have enough fuel for your journey. The start/stop driving in heavy traffic uses a lot of fuel, so be prepared for this.
- For up-to-the-minute traffic information, the RAC provides a traffic information telephone service (calls are charged for). Please see the Traffic and Travel News section of the RAC website for details.
- The RAC also has a Traffic App for the iPhone and Google Android phones. This shows the start and end points of traffic congestion overlayed onto Google Maps. The App can be downloaded from the iTunes App Store and the Android Market.
Preparing for Winter Driving and Winter Driving Tips
If you can afford it, have a service carried out before the winter, and ask the garage to check the battery and charging system, as the winter places extra demands on a car's electrical system. Also check that the car's cooling system has the correct concentration of anti-freeze in it.
Easy maintenance checks that you can carry out yourself include:
A winter service check is often offered by garages at reasonable cost. A typical winter check might include:
If it's been snowing, then plan your route to use popular roads which are more likely to have been salted and gritted.
In wintry conditions allowing a greater stopping distance, and when descending steep hills select a low gear to allow engine braking which is less likely to result in a skid than using the brakes.
If you know the roads are icy or covered in snow, try to avoid any heavy braking and use the gears to slow down.
Turn on your lights if you encounter low visibility conditions.
Fog lights should only be used when visibility of the road ahead is less than 100 metres and switched off as soon as visibility improves.
During the winter, make sure your phone is charged before driving, and consider taking a blanket, warm clothing, food and water with you for your car journey in case you get stuck in the snow, when a car can become very cold, particularly if you can no longer run the engine. Also useful are a torch, wellies, an ice scraper, de-icer, battery jump leads and a first aid kit. For long journeys, it’s always worth having a flask of warm drink just in case the worst happens and you get stuck or break down. Make sure you have plenty of fuel before you start out, in case you get stuck in traffic and have to run the engine to keep warm.
If your car gets stuck in snow and rocking it back and forward does not free it, try some soil or grit under the tyres, or if you have them, try the rubber floor mats from your car. If you can't move the car and have to run the engine to keep warm, make sure your exhaust has adequate ventilation otherwise dangerous levels of carbon monoxide could build up inside the car.
To prevent your washer bottle from freezing, use a suitable screenwash additive and top it up regularly. If you are able to, keeping the vehicle in a garage will normally prevent it from freezing. If the washer bottle has already frozen, try pouring warm water in to help defrost it.
Be careful when using your wipers. If the weight of snow on them is too heavy, or they are frozen to the windscreen, you can blow the fuse.
To deal with a frozen door lock, try a lock de-icer, or use warm water poured over the lock barrel area. Also, it’s worth gently working the key in and out of the lock a few times to help free it.
Why is it useful to be a member of a breakdown recovery service during spells of cold weather?
Car batteries can be adversely affected by cold weather and engines can become frozen, increasing the chance of your car breaking down.
What other specialist breakdown recovery services are there?
- Classic car breakdown cover.
- Motorhome breakdown cover.
- Van breakdown cover.
- Commercial vehicle and truck breakdown cover.
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