Classic Car news

Your Classic Car Has Broken Down: What Do You Do?


If you’re the owner of a classic car, then you’ll know that little issues and niggling problems come with the territory.  

Like with any other car, things can sometimes go wrong and you need to prepare yourself for the unfortunate event of a breakdown. Even if your classic has been meticulously maintained, a breakdown is still likely to happen to an older vehicle at some point. When this happens, it’s essential that you stay safe, and contact your breakdown service provider as soon as possible. 

We’ve got some quick tips you can follow for when you encounter a breakdown, in order to keep yourself and others safe on the road. 

Breaking down on motorways & dual carriageways

If you’re unlucky enough to suffer a breakdown on a motorway or dual carriageway, these can be the toughest places to deal with the problem, especially if you’re on the outside or overtaking lane. 

When the worst happens, there are a few steps you can take:

  • Pull into the hard shoulder if possible. Put your side lights on and your hazard lights if you have them, and point your wheels away from the road.
  • Get yourself a high visibility vest is always a good idea, as the don’t take up too much space, and aren’t expensive. 
  • Get out of your classic car on the left hand side, so that you’re not stepping out into traffic. 
  • Quickly walk up the embankment and if there’s a barrier you can climb over, do so. Whatever you do, keep well away from the hard shoulder.
  • Even if the problem seems small, don’t be tempted to start making repairs yourself.
  • Call the local authorities, and keep in mind you’ll need to know your location when calling from a mobile. If you call from a roadside SOS phone, they will know your location automatically.
  • Contact your breakdown service provider.
  • If the repair services are able to get you back on the road there and then, be cautious when re-joining the motorway. Build up enough speed first on the hard shoulder before merging.

In certain circumstances you might not be able to follow the above. If this is the case, stay in your classic car, with your hazards and/or side lights on, and make sure your seat belt is fastened. Call the local authorities and your breakdown service provider from there. 

Breaking down on national, secondary & minor roads

When a breakdown occurs on a smaller road, you’ll need to take similar steps in order to keep yourself and others safe: 

  • Pull over to a safe place if possible, as certain smaller roads do have hard shoulders. If there isn’t one, then pull over as far as you can to the left hand side. 
  • If your classic has them, turn on your hazard lights as well as your side lights. This is especially important when there’s little light and visibility is low.
  • Other road users won’t be passing you with as much speed on these roads, but you still need to exit your car on the left just in case. 
  • If you have one, put on your high visibility vest.

Unlike breaking down on the motorway, you should always get back in your car on smaller roads. No matter whether you breakdown in the middle of the city centre or out on a country road somewhere, get back in your car, because it’s always the safest place you can be.

Call the local authorities and your breakdown service provider to let them know the situation from the safety of your classic car. 

By taking the time to familiarise yourself with the steps you can take, you’ll be far better prepared and able to handle a breakdown situation. The most important thing is that you keep calm, and follow the protocols. That way you’ll help to ensure your safety, along with the safety of your passengers, and other drivers. 

Classic Car News, Inside Classics

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