Broken Down?

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Car Broken Down?

Being involved in a vehicle breakdown can be an upsetting experience - especially if you don’t have breakdown cover in place. If your car has broken down or your car won’t start, but you’re not an RAC member, don’t worry - we can still help you.

How? This guide will cover exactly what you need to do if your vehicle breaks down and you need instant breakdown cover - including clear, step-by-step instructions to help us get to you as soon as we can.

We’ll also detail the benefits of RAC membership, and the level of breakdown cover you can expect from us.

Broken Down without any Breakdown Cover?

If you have already broken down, DO NOT purchase cover online, please call us instead. If you purchase online, we will not attend if you have already broken down, as the RAC cannot provide roadside assistance if your breakdown has occurred prior to you purchasing a policy with us.

If you're not broken down, get an online quote

 Get an Online Quote  

If you've broken down and need immediate breakdown cover, don't panic. Stay calm and follow these five steps:

  1. Call 0333 2000 999
  2. Tell us where you are
  3. We'll help if you've broken down or your vehicle won't start
  4. Join RAC for the year - prices will differ from those online and we'll add an emergency callout charge
  5. You can choose your breakdown package but for the first 24 hours you'll be on Roadside assistance only

Staying safe when your vehicle has broken down

After calling us for instant breakdown cover, it’s important you stay safe until support arrives. While waiting for help, your priority is looking after yourself and any passengers in the vehicle.

Tips for staying safe when your car has broken down include:

For further reading, look at our guides on motorway breakdown advice and staying safe in a breakdown.

Already a member?

Call 0333 2000 999 for breakdown assistance - roadside assistance anywhere in the UK is provided 24/7 and 365 days a year.

Why choose RAC for your emergency cover?

When you join the RAC, you’ll join more than eight million members of the breakdown service that has been coming to the rescue of UK motorists since 1897. You’ll be in safe hands - we use advanced computer systems to deal with roadside assistance calls and deal with breakdowns swiftly and efficiently.

The RAC provides roadside assistance to all areas of the UK at all times - 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and 365 days a year.

As standard, every RAC patrol van carries more than 500 parts and tools - including a universal spare wheel to quickly help motorists who have had a puncture or other issues with tyres. We also have a dedicated fleet of fuel patrols to help motorists who have put the wrong type of fuel in their vehicle.

The RAC’s record of repairing vehicles at the roadside is one of which we’re especially proud. We repair four out of five vehicles at the roadside.

For more information on the service provided by the RAC, read our complete guide to breakdown cover.

  • Get out of the car from the passenger side. This means you don’t exit the vehicle on the driver’s side and step out into the road, and potentially in the path of oncoming traffic.
  • Stay as far away from the road as possible. If you’re on the motorway, try to get as close to the barrier at the roadside as you can, ideally behind it. Make sure all passengers do the same. Be aware of oncoming traffic at all times.
  • If you can’t get out of the vehicle for whatever reason, pull over as far to the left of the road as you can. Put your hazard lights on as a warning to other motorists, and move passengers to the passenger side of the vehicle. All passengers should put seatbelts on.
  • If you haven’t got access to a mobile phone and you’ve broken down on the motorway, make your way to an emergency telephone and call for help. Emergency phones are located along every mile of a motorway, and users are connected to the Highways Agency directly.

To speak to our RAC Customer Services team, please call us on:

Instant Breakdown Cover - FAQs

Q. I was involved in an accident - should I still contact you?

Yes. Accident Care is included as a member benefit at no additional charge. If you’ve been involved in a road traffic collision, in the UK, the RAC may be able to help with post-accident assistance. Call us on 0333 2000 999 from the scene and we can offer advice on whether you can drive the vehicle, arranging recovery, whether you need to make a claim in your car insurance, and a replacement vehicle, if necessary.

Q. Will you come out if I’ve run out of fuel?

Yes. If you run out fuel, the RAC can come to help. We also provide Mis-Fuel Rescue as an optional service on your breakdown cover. If you put the wrong kind of fuel into your vehicle, we’ll help to drain and clean out the fuel system. We’ll also add a quantity of the right fuel to get you moving again, and safely dispose of the unwanted fuel.

Q. My car won’t start. Can you help?

If your car won’t start, we can help. If you’re at the roadside and your car cannot start, we’ll try to get your car going again and get you moving. If there’s a fault with your car’s starter battery and we can’t recharge it, we can fit a new battery.

If you’ve broken down at home and need help, contact us to tell us the problem and we can discuss your options.

Q. Should I call the police?

If there is nowhere secure for you and any passengers to wait, or you feel unsafe at all, then you should call the police to inform them that you have broken down.

Q. Is it free to call the emergency number?

Yes, the emergency services telephones positioned along motorways are free to call. They connect directly to the police, or the Highways Agency.

Q. Is there a call out charge?

Yes. When you join the RAC and get instant breakdown cover, you will get a year’s membership and we’ll also add an emergency call out charge. The charge will cover you for assistance at the roadside or at home.

Q. Should I attempt to fix the problem myself?

Some basic faults can be fixed. You may have changed a flat tyre before and, with a spare wheel on board, can carry out such a repair. If you feel confident in fixing the problem then you can try - but you must be in a safe position first. If you are in any doubt or don’t feel safe, call the RAC for help.

Q. Do you give priority to vulnerable people?

We aim to get to all members as quickly as possible, though do consider circumstances when responding to breakdowns.