A car breakdown can happen to anyone, no matter how much you look after your vehicle. Whilst you can’t always prevent a breakdown from happening, you can make sure you’re properly prepared and ready for nearly any eventuality. With the right equipment, you can make the experience much less stressful.
Before You Travel
Before you start a journey, you should ensure your mobile phone is fully charged. will ensure you’ll be able to contact the emergency services or breakdown assistance if it’s required.
You should check the journey route before you travel and also check the weather forecast. If extreme weather is predicted, especially heavy snow, it could be better to save your journey for another time when the weather is better.
What to Keep in Your Car
The below equipment can be useful to keep in your car at all times. If you don’t have room for everything, think about the season and the weather, as well as the kind of journey you’ll be undertaking to work out what you might need and what you can store elsewhere until it’s needed.
Spare tyre and jack
A lot of breakdowns will just be caused by a flat tyre. Changing a tyre can be easy enough, as long as you have the right equipment. Many cars will already have a spare tyre, so you’ll just need a jack and the locking wheel nut key to get the tyre off. If you’re not sure how to change a tyre, your breakdown cover will probably include flat tyres and will be able to send someone to help you.
Empty fuel can
You’d be surprised by how many breakdowns occur because the car has run out of petrol. Keeping an empty fuel can in your car will mean you can go to the nearest petrol station to fill the can and take it back to the car if you should ever run out on a journey. However, it’s probably best to check how much petrol you have before you begin your journey, to save you any bother.
High-vis vest, torch, and warning triangle
A high-vs vest and warning triangles can be especially helpful if you’re travelling at night. They can help to reduce the risk of an accident if you break down by making sure both you and your vehicle are clearly visible. If it’s safe to do so, you should place your warning triangle about 45m behind where your car has broken down, but you should never use them on the motorway. Some European countries have a legal requirement for drivers to carry a warning triangle, so you should check the rules if you’re driving overseas. A torch will also be handy if you break down at night, as it will help you to inspect the engine to see if there’s an easy fix. You might also want to keep some spare batteries in the car or use a wind-up torch so it won’t get flat.
Jump-start leads can help if your battery dies on the journey. You’ll just need to ask another driver to help with their vehicle. You should only use jump-start cables if you know where they should go, otherwise you could cause a danger to yourself and damage the vehicles. If you’re unsure, ask your breakdown provider to come and assist you instead.
Extra screen wash, de-icer and a scraper
The last thing you want when you’re driving is for your visibility to be impaired because you can’t see out your windscreen. So, having extra screen wash in your car will help you to keep your screen clean and keep you driving safely. The same is true for de-icer and a scraper, which can help speed up cleaning your windscreen when it ices over.
In-car phone charger or power bank
Keeping a charger in your car for your phone will mean you’ll always be able to contact the emergency services or breakdown provider if you ever need to. It can also be helpful to have the what3words app installed on your phone. This will let you tell someone else your location using a unique combination of three words, which can be especially helpful if you’re driving in a rural area and breakdown.
Warm and waterproof clothing
You should keep warm and waterproof clothing in your car, such as a coat. You might not want to drive in a big warm coat, but it will be helpful if you break down and need to step away from your car. You should also include warm and waterproof layers for any passengers, as well as blankets if it’s very cold.
First aid kit
You should carry at least a basic first aid kit in your car so you can treat any minor injuries. The first aid kit could include plasters, bandages, alcohol-free cleansing wipes, scissors, disposable gloves, painkillers (e.g., ibuprofen or paracetamol), antiseptic cream, antihistamine cream or tablets, tweezers, safety pins, and an eye wash. If you regularly take medication, it can be a good idea to take some in your car with you in case you get stuck somewhere for longer than you thought, and it’s time to take it again.
Food and water
If you’re planning a long journey, it’s a good idea to take water and some snacks in the car, for yourself and your passengers. This will help to keep you hydrated and fed if you get stuck in traffic or if you break down and have to wait a while for help. Water is especially important in the warm summer months when you may get dehydrated quicker. Having some snacks in the car can help you to stave off hunger and stay focused on your driving.
Breakdown cover details
You should keep the phone number for your breakdown provider in your phone and also have it written down somewhere to keep in your car. That way you’ll always be able to find the number if you need to contact them in an emergency.
You should keep the manual for your car in the car itself, as it will have lots of information that might be needed when you’re driving. This will include the recommended tyre pressure, what the warning lights mean, and how you can fix minor faults if something goes wrong.
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