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How to Cope When your Car Breaks Down on a UK Road

Modern cars will rarely break down. When they do the fault can often be traced back to poor maintenance and a failure to look after the car properly. You should never ignore any faults which your car develops whilst driving. Always be on the look out for odd smells or noises. If any occur be prepared to pull over and investigate.

If you do break down your first concern should be to ensure your vehicle isn't or doesn't become a hazard for other road users. If you can you should pull off the road. If your vehicle remains on the road the switch on your hazard warning lights.

If you have a warning triangle place it on the road at at least 45 metres behind your car on the same side of the road. If you have passengers then ask them to get out of the vehicle and wait in a safe place.

To be prepared to deal with common breakdowns use the following guide.

Engine Failure
If the engine fails while driving you will lose power steering and power assistance to the brakes. This will result in the steering becoming heavier. You will need to use greater force to steer the car. You will also have to press the brake pedal harder.

Engine Overheating
If this happens then you should stop and let the engine cool down. Once cool you can look under the bonnet to investigate a cause.

Tyre Blow-out
This is when a tyre bursts while you are driving. If ever you find yourself is this situation here's what to do

1) Keep your eyes firmly on the road and both hands on the steering wheel

2) Keep the steering wheel in a steady position, making only slight movements.

3) Turn on your hazard lights to show that you are having a problem. If you are on the motorway in any lane other than the inside then don't do this straight away as it may cause impatient people to undercut you and increase the chances of an accident.

4) Try and identify where you can bring the vehicle to a stop, outside the main traffic flow - if on a motorway this will be the hard shoulder, or you may need to just pull up in a lay-by or at the side of the road, avoiding any bends.

5) Don't apply the brake but do take your foot off the accelerator and try to coast - slowing down gently (this is because if you have a faulty tyre, braking heavily can make your car swerve uncontrollably and cause a collision).

6) As your car slows down drive into the identified 'safe' spot taking care not to rush and keeping a close eye on traffic around you. If you have your hazards on then hopefully other road users will realise you have a problem and will allow you to leave the flow of traffic.

7) Park up and get yourself and your passengers out of the car, taking care that you do not put yourself or them in danger from passing cars. Move a safe distance away from the car.

A Normal Puncture
If a tyre develops a puncture while driving you should pull over to a safe location as quickly as possible. Changing a tyre on a public road can be a very dangerous activity.

1) Make sure it is safe to change the wheel

2) Remove the spare wheel, wrench and jack from the boot of your car.

3) Making sure the handbrake is on put the car into first gear (park for an automatic). Refer to your car's user manual to find where the jacking point is.

4) Making sure the jack is on firm ground attach the jack then use it to lift the car up just above the ground.

5) Remove the wheel nuts

6) Remove the wheel

7) Fit the spare wheel, tighten the wheel nuts then lower the jack.

8) Go to the nearest garage and get your damaged tyre fixed or replaced.

A Fire
Firstly it is always wise to carry a fire extinguisher. Secondly if ever you start to smell petrol fumes whilst driving always pull over and investigate. If your vehicle does catch fire then get yourself and any passengers out of the vehicle as quickly as possible. Call the fire brigade. Never try and extinguish a fire under the bonnet by pening the bonnet as this may make the flames flare up.

For many people breaking down on the motorway is a frightening prospect and certainly the motorway is an place of many hazards. If you do have to stop on the motorway due to your car developing a fault then here is what you should do.

1) Pull over to the hard shoulder and park as far to the left as you can.

2) Turn your steering wheel left full lock. This will point the front wheels to the left so if you're hit by another car your car will not be pushed back onto the carriageway.

3) Switch on your hazard warning lights. If it is night time or there is poor visibility turn on your side lights.

4) Exit your vehicle using the left hand doors. If you have passengers then tell them to wait on the the grassy bank or as far away from the carriageway as possible.

5) If you have any animals leave them in your vehicle.

6) Phone the emergency services. If you know your location, between two junctions then use your mobile. If you don't know your location then walk to the nearest emergency phone and call from there. This will pinpoint your location.

7) Do not attempt to repair your vehicle.

8) Wait for the emergency services on the grassy bank and as far from the carriageway as possible.

If your car won't reach the hard shoulder then turn on your hazard warning lights and making sure it is safe to exit your vehicle do so then make your way to the hard shoulder.

About The Author Richard Jenkins is the owner of the driving test and driving schools website. A site for learner drivers providing guides on topics such as the driving theory test and cheap young drivers car insurance .
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