We've all experienced that moment of dread when we're driving along the highway at 60mph and we lose power. When a pop and a sizzle turns in to a smoking hood, or a bump leaves us hearing the flap-flap-flap of a shredded tyre. Breakdowns can ruin vacations and road trips in an instant and can cause even more serious problems if you need to commute to work every day. Luckily we're now able to buy breakdown cover and have some roadside assistance when we need it most, but even if we're able to get a tow to the garage; that's only half the battle.
A lot of people believe that their car insurance covers them for any parts failure caused by wear and tear. Even the most comprehensive of schemes will rarely protect you against this kind of damage, much to the public surprise. Most car insurance brokers will outline, albeit in small print, a lot of additions that you might not necessarily be aware of. If your breakdown is a result of general wear and tear or what can be naturally expected of a car of that age, your broker will wave you away like an irritating housefly.
Most breakdown schemes have a variety of inclusions, all aimed to cater for different individuals and their needs. A lot of people don't know that some of the factors contained within their policy that come as standard are available at no extra cost. Some companies will hide the fact that they offer a replacement rental car or will pay for your accommodation or further travel. They include these as standard so that they can operate under a 'Premium' name and will use them as a last ditch selling point to a customer that isn't convinced. For the average Joe, they'll keep hiding this point until the very last second.
Using Your Cell Phone Whilst Stationary
Many people don't know the complex and intricate laws that are involved in driving on the road, most of us just listen to popular wisdom and much repeated facts. One of the most common offences committed by drivers, and this often happens in the event of a breakdown, is calling whilst stationary. The true legal recourse is that if your engine is on whilst you dial, you're breaking the law. It doesn't matter if you've been in a traffic jam for an hour or you've pulled over with a flat tyre; if your engine is on and you use your phone, you're breaking the law. Make sure that when you call your breakdown assistance, your engine is firmly switched off.
A Strange One
Whilst we would never recommend this, there is a strange myth about reversing that actually happens to be true. A driver does not have to wear a seat belt whilst reversing. If you've pulled over after a breakdown and you want to reverse into a safer location, technically you're at the liberty of this loophole;"…a person driving a vehicle while performing a manoeuvre which includes reversing…".
But as soon as you put your car back into a driving gear and you move even half an inch forward, you must re-buckle. For safety's sake, just keep it on.
Flat Battery Re-Charge
Dead batteries are one of the leading causes of breakdown internationally. In years gone by, a jumpstart would be enough to get us home and away with no problem. In the days before iPods, heated seat and GPS systems, car batteries could be fully recharged in an hour or less. The higher strain on the alternator with modern devices means that it has little energy left to charge the battery, so don't assume that everything is going to be fine next time you go out to start your car.
Author Byline: Matt Bonner has been a car enthusiast for years. In his youth he worked as both a mechanic and an engineer, but now works as a consultant for EasyWheels.