10 Steps To Take When Your Car Has Broken Down

Breakdowns on the highway, in rush hour traffic, on a road trip or in rainy or dark weather conditions are never ideal. But, as Murphy’s Law would have it, your car will break down in the most awkward place and at the most inconvenient time. While there are some actions you can take to prevent landing up in a situation with a non-running car, sometimes there is nothing you can do to change the cards you’ve been dealt.

At Sell Your Damaged Car, we’ve seen our fair share of breakdowns and non-running cars and we know just the right steps to take (and questions to ask), should you find yourself in this unhappy situation.

For those of you who haven’t yet found yourself on the side of the road with a non-running vehicle, here are 4 tips to prepare you for the unfortunate situation of a breakdown in future: (Touch wood that it won’t happen).

  • Keep a full list of roadside assistance numbers in your vehicle and on your phone at all times. These should include contact details for the police, your insurer’s roadside assistance support (if you have one) or any professional roadside assistance service.
  • Carry an emergency triangle in your boot and reflective clothing (such as a vest) to make you and your vehicle clearly visible to fellow motorists.
  • Ensure that you have enough fuel in your car for the trip ahead. Always fill up when your fuel light turns on.
  • Keep a charged phone (or phone-charging equipment to plug your phone into your car) on you so that you will not be left deserted.
Car breaks down in the rain

But if your car does break down and you’re stranded on the side of the road and in need of help, here are 10 steps to follow to ensure your safety:

  • Remain calm and do not panic. (Sometimes, the stress of the situation can cause us to do uncharacteristic things that actually place us in danger).
  • Make yourself visible to fellow motorists by switching on your hazard lights. 🚨
  • If it is possible and safe to do so, pull your car off the road and into the left shoulder or emergency lane.
  • If it is not possible (because your car is no longer running), stop in the safest place you can access. If you are parked in the middle of the road or in the way of approaching traffic, rather get out of the passenger side of the car for your own safety.
  • Place an emergency triangle at least 45 metres behind your car with the reflective side facing oncoming traffic 🚘
  • Contact a roadside assistance company for help, giving relevant details of your location and informing them that you have broken down. This will help them to get to you as quickly and easily as possible. (If you have decided that this is the last straw with your current non-running vehicle and you would like to sell it, contact SYDC and we will send a free tow truck to assist you).
Person places emergency triangle 45 metres behind the vehicle.
  • If you have moved your car to a safe place in the emergency lane or shoulder of the road, rather sit in the passenger seat of the vehicle and lock all doors and keep windows shut as a safety precaution until you receive assistance.
  • If it is possible to repair your vehicle, for example in the event of a flat tyre where the tyre is on the opposite side of the road to oncoming traffic, proceed to change the tyre. Keep vigilant of the road and your personal safety. Do not attempt to fix your non-running car if you are not skilled to do so. Rather wait for help.
  • Do not seek help from fellow motorists or pedestrians. They may have ulterior motives for assisting you and it is best to protect yourself until trusted, professional tow truck or mechanic arrives. Do not accept assistance from non-uniformed police or people who claim to be emergency services. Rather wait for the professionals to arrive. 🚔
  • Be aware of your surroundings and any suspicious people nearby. Remain in your vehicle for your safety. If you have opened the bonnet and attempted to conduct repairs, do not let the bonnet block your vision of the road.
Woman waits for help with non-running car.
Sell your non-running car the hassle-free way

Sometimes the repair, towing and wait-time on your non-running car is too excessive and you need to make the decision to sell your damaged vehicle.

Don’t sell yourself short through private car sales. Instead, hop online through Sell Your Damaged Car’s efficient platform and get a competitive cash offer, free towing and forget the hassle of endless paperwork.


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