Car breakdown: drivers changed trucks during hours of ordeal | Automotive

For a driver of a broken down car waiting beside a main road with children, the sight of a recovery vehicle is a huge relief and a sign that the journey home can begin. But this journey may not be easy.

For many families, the trip can involve climbing in and out of the cabs of several flatbed trucks. There can also be difficulties caused by the time of day, where in the country you are when you break down, where you live and even the journey time of the driver picking you up.

Turn on and off and on again

If a vehicle cannot be repaired, drivers may be offered a ride home, but not necessarily on a truck. Families found themselves moved from one vehicle to another as their journey was divided into stages.

There are a number of reasons for this. The first is that UK law limits the time truckers can be on a public road to 10 hours a day and states that a 30-minute break must be taken after half past five. If a driver is nearing the end of a shift or needs to take a break, this will limit the distance they can travel.

Steve Jones of Comparison Creator, who provides details of breakdown cover to comparison sites such as Comparethemarket and Moneysupermarket, says that many companies use salvage vehicle networks that operate in geographic regions – such as the north-east. East or Wales – and only in those areas. boundaries.

“If you move from one network to another, more often than not it will transfer to the next network,” he says. Which means that you and your car are transferred to another recovery vehicle.

The biggest players, the RAC and AA, operate their own network of recovery vehicles, but both say longer recovery journeys may need to be made in stages to comply with the law.

The AA says: ‘Some members’ return journeys may need to be interrupted to comply with government rules on driving hours or to work with the availability of recovery vehicles in the area.’ For families hoping to get home, it’s not always clear in advance that the journey may be a relay rather than a simple commute: the fine print in fonts often promises to bring passengers home, but don’t say how.

Know the distance

Something that may be in the terms and conditions, however, is a limit on the number of miles you can fly without having to pay.

When Stuart Anderson, who works in public relations, was 20 km from home, his car died, leaving him and his family on the side of the road. Because he only had basic breakdown cover, the breakdown driver told him he could run 10 miles for free, but after that he would have to pay a fee per mile. “In the end, he threw the car outside the house and pulled out his card machine,” Anderson explains.

An RAC patrol attending a roadside breakdown. Photograph: Jack Sullivan/Alamy

His problem was that his policy was limited to what is called “local recovery”. If you’re traveling longer distances, buying nationwide coverage is the way to ensure you can get home wherever you break down. If the car cannot be repaired at the roadside, these policies should at least cover all passengers brought home, but they will cost more than a basic policy.

However, Jones points out that some providers will only take drivers to their homes and not to the destination they were traveling to. “[If] I’m in Cardiff…and I break down in Bristol on the way to Edinburgh, and my vehicle can’t be repaired on the side of the road, most decent police would either take me home or back to Edinburgh”, he said. However, “there are a lot of companies that don’t do that [Edinburgh] part of it: they restrict it.

In a race to offer the most competitive prices, providers have introduced additional charges on some of their products, similar to insurance policies. This means that although a policy may seem cheap, if you need to call a lorry to collect your car, a fee – usually around £40 – will have to be paid.

If your vehicle breaks down at home or within a short distance of it — like a quarter mile — your policy may not cover that either. “Home Start” is an additional feature on some policies where a mechanic is dispatched to your home.

Watch out for electricity

Due to the new technology involved in electric vehicles, the amount of work that can be done on them at the roadside is limited, Jones says, and they often have to be taken to a garage.

“There are a lot of problems with electricity at the moment, so it’s about making sure you have the right coverage,” he says. “Most people think a van can come along and give you a full load, [but] the batteries they use on the vans would take half an hour or 40 minutes just to get you to the next electric charging station. You need to make sure you know what is covered and what is not.

How much?

The average price of a breakdown cover package on comparison sites is around £42, but the cheapest policies tend not to include features such as national cover and may also include additional charges. For a policy with nationwide coverage and no deductible, the average price starts at around £50 a year, says Jones.

The AA says its cover starts at £59 for new customers on a basic policy, which includes towing their vehicle to a local garage. The price goes up for features like nationwide recovery, trip continuation, and additional drivers. There is no supplement for electric vehicles.

Standard RAC membership starts at £63.25 per year as part of an ongoing promotion. The normal cost of this cover is £104.50. This includes home breakdown cover, but does not include features such as travel continuation or domestic recovery.

Martin Lewis’ MoneySavingExpert site recommends the AutoAid policy, which starts at £61.49 for a driver and spouse in any vehicle they drive. It offers recovery to any destination in the UK if the vehicle cannot be repaired at the end of a working day.

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