What's the best breakdown cover for my car?
You’ll be glad to have an expert who can help if your car ever breaks down. We look at the options and find out which patrols do the best job...
How do the breakdown services compare?
To help you pick the most suitable cover for you, we've looked at the policies offered by 14 different breakdown providers. Our table shows how many patrols they have and the cost of their cheapest local and national cover.
|Provider||No of patrols||Cheapest local cover||Cheapest national cover|
|Breakdown Assist* (AXA)||3500||£25||£35|
|Nationwide (Flex Plus ac)||4000||na||£156***|
* Limit of five callouts per year on some policies **Limit of four callouts per year with local cover, six with national cover ***includes other benefits ****Limit of six callouts per year
Top five reasons for breakdowns and how to prevent them
1. Battery failure
The most common causes of battery problems are a poor connection caused by dirty or corroded terminals and the battery being drained because the car has done a lot of short urban journeys. Cold weather can also kill off an ailing battery.
To prevent a breakdown, ask your garage to check the battery connections and its condition when your car is being serviced. If the battery isn’t holding a charge as well as it should, you can get it replaced before it lets you down. And if you only use your car for short trips, consider charging the battery overnight once every couple of weeks.
2. Wheels and tyres
Worn, damaged or incorrectly inflated tyres are far more likely to get a puncture, so check your car’s tyres every week to ensure that there’s enough tread left, there are no bulges or chinks out of the sidewalls and the pressures are correct. Don’t forget to check the condition of the spare wheel, too.
3. Lost keys
Misplacing your car keys is easier than ever due to the introduction of keyless entry and start systems that mean you no longer have to put the key in the ignition. It’s also common for people to accidentally lock their keys in the car.
Try to keep the car’s spare key in a safe and easily accessible place in case you need it. To get a replacement key, you’ll need to visit an authorised dealer, because they might need to calibrate the key to your car.
4. Wrong fuel
According to the AA, around 133,000 people per year accidentally put the wrong fuel in their car – petrol in a diesel and vice versa. As long as you realise quickly and don’t start the engine or drive the car, the fuel can be drained out and the system flushed through so that no damage is caused. You can get assistance from a breakdown provider or a misfuelling specialist.
5. Engine cooling and air-con issues
Problems with air conditioning and engine cooling systems are common, especially in hot weather. Check your car’s fluid levels regularly and keep them topped up, ensuring that you add sufficient antifreeze to the coolant.
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