What should you do if your vehicle breaks down?

A handy guide for the worst-case scenario.

Your car breaking down can be frustrating, stressful and even scary, depending on where you've broken down. Knowing the right steps can make a big difference to both keeping you safe and getting you back on the road sooner.

This guide from RTC Recovery will equip you with the knowledge and confidence needed to handle a breakdown calmly and effectively, from what your first course of action should be to the best place to wait for assistance.






the hard shoulder of an A Road


Find a safe haven

So, you've just burst a tire going over a pothole or your battery has gone flat – What now? If possible, you should steer your vehicle as far away from traffic as possible, depending on where you are.

  • If you've broken down on the M54, A5 or similar motorway, try to make it to the hard shoulder or emergency refuge area.
  • If you break down or your car begins to fail on a country road, try to come to a stop on a straight road as far away from blind corners as possible.


a peron with their index finger over the button to turn on the hazard lights in their car



Switch on your hazards

This is the universal sign that your vehicle is disabled – Activate them as soon as you (safely) can once you know something is wrong with your car.


a man looking at the engine of his broken down car


Exit your vehicle cautiously

Turn off your engine, engage your handbrake and only exit your vehicle when it's absolutely safe to do so – Depending on where you've broken down, you're almost always going to be more at risk sitting in an immobile vehicle than on the verge or (ideally) behind a barrier.

When you leave, use the door furthest from the flow of traffic.


a red triangle placed in front of a broken down car



If possible, increase your visibility

If you have warning triangles and it's safe to do so, you should place these 45 metres behind your vehicle on the same side of the road. For the same reason, it's a good idea to keep a high-visibility jacket in your boot.






a motorway marker on the M1

Provide them with details

To ensure the fastest possible response time, try to get your bearings using local landmarks.

  • If you're in a more residential area, look out for nearby businesses.
  • If you're on a motorway, take note of the nearest mile marker.
  • If possible, use your Smartphone's GPS or an app like What3Words to pinpoint your exact location.


?a man calling a breakdown service on his mobile phone while looking at his car's engin

Get in touch

Once you have some details, call a roadside assistance or recovery services firm. As a rule of thumb, local recovery companies will get to far faster than national recovery companies like the RAC, though they may be able to direct you to a local company if you ask.

If you have broken down around the Welsh border or the county of Powys, give RTC Recovery a call at 07388 529617. We offer 24/7 emergency callouts for vehicle recoveries in Newtown, Powys and Shropshire, with an average response time of 45 – 60 minutes.


a breakdown recovery employee working with a man on the latter's car


Describe your situation

If possible, try to give the dispatcher some details of the issue you're facing. Any details you can provide will allow them to send the most appropriate recovery vehicle and technician for the job, potentially speeding up your recovery.






a woman using her phone while waiting for breakdown recovery

Get comfortable

Do what you can to make yourself comfortable while you wait for the breakdown recovery vehicle. RTC Recovery recommends that you keep a waterproof and a blanket in your car, just in case you need to wait out in the cold or the rain.

a woman standing out of the road checking her tire pressures

Avoid unnecessary risks

Don't attempt to flag down passing vehicles or hitchhike away – Stay put and wait for recovery. Not only is abandoning the vehicle dangerous, it's illegal and carries a fine of up to £2,500 and/or a 3-month prison sentence!

a man taking photos of his broken down car

Do some preparation work

If necessary, now would be a good time to take note of what happened leading up to the breakdown (Especially if another vehicle was involved) and, if it is safe to do so, take photographs of your car's condition for your records.



RTC Recovery does more than just tow.

Get 24/7 assistance with our round-the-clock vehicle recoveries in Newtown, Powys and Shropshire. Just call us at 07388 529617 anytime and we'll be happy to help. 





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Vastre Industrial Estate
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