Vehicle Breakdown Checklist

Having your car breakdown can be an unnerving experience. Being well prepared can help overcome any initial panic and allow you to better cope with the situation.

Here, we’ll list some items that you may want to consider taking with you in your car, particularly on long journeys. We’ll also tell you what you should do in the unfortunate situation where you do breakdown.

A Breakdown Checklist

It’s a good idea to have a number of items in your car boot. That way they’re there just in case you need them.

Factoring in winter too, you might want to consider a few additional items that could help you out should you find yourself in a fix.

Empty Fuel Can

A fuel can is really helpful if you run out of fuel within walking distance of a petrol station. If you don’t have a can and run out before you’ve brought one, many large petrol stations will stock them. This means you might be able to pick one up, which might prove quicker than waiting for the breakdown services.

Food and Drink

Add some non-perishable food and some bottled water for use in emergencies. Things like cereal bars that will provide an energy boost but have a decent ‘use by date’ are good. You’d don’t really want to find something mouldy in your hour of need!

Warm clothes and raincoat

If you do breakdown it may be necessary to leave your car either while you wait for, or to walk for help. If the weather is bad and you’re ill-prepared, having a jumper and a raincoat in the car could make life a little more comfortable. The raincoat doesn’t need to be the latest designer outfit; a cheap waterproof will do nicely.

High Visibility Vest

While it’s a legal requirement in many countries on the continent, a high visibility vest can still be a good idea in the UK. If you’ve broken down in a dark place, it can be a potentially perilous situation, and being seen could help reduce the chances of you being involved in an accident.

Warning triangle

Similar to the vest, a warning triangle is often required on the continent but isn’t legally required in the UK. It’s still a good idea to have one in the boot of your car just in case. The Highway Code recommends placing one on (non-motorway) roads 45 metres behind your vehicle.


While many mobile phones might cast some light or have a torch app, a proper high power torch could make a big difference if you find yourself stranded in the dark. Keeping the torch (and perhaps some spare batteries) in the glove compartment is a good move – you might not want to drain your phone battery lighting your way.

First Aid Kit

Not necessarily for a breakdown but having a first aid kit in the car could provide some piece of mind that you could patch up small injuries in the event that you or a travelling companion hurt yourselves while out.

Tow rope

Particularly in winter, it might be a good idea to include a tow rope in your breakdown kit. The chances of getting stuck in snow or bogged down in mud are more likely in the winter months. Should you need to be pulled out of a drift or up a slope, your tow rope could come in very handy.


Obviously your breakdown kit is supposed to be convenient and if your boot is full you don’t really want to be taking the garden shovel from your shed. You can buy shovels that fold up, taking very little room that can be then left in the car in case they’re needed.

De-icer and scraper

Adding a spare can or two of de-icer along with a scraper to your car in the winter months is a good idea. Going out for the evening and returning to a frozen car is quite common. It’s a lot easier to clear a car of ice with de-icer and a scraper than other standby methods!

What should you do if you breakdown?

On non-motorways, the Highway Code advises:

  • Get your vehicle off the road if possible
  • Warn other traffic by using your hazard warning lights if your vehicle is causing an obstruction
  • Help other road users see you by wearing light-coloured or fluorescent clothing in daylight and reflective clothing at night or in poor visibility
  • Put a warning triangle on the road at least 45 metres behind your broken-down vehicle on the same side of the road, or use other permitted warning devices if you have them. Always take great care when placing or retrieving them, but never use them on motorways
  • If possible, keep your sidelights on if it is dark or visibility is poor
  • Don’t stand between your vehicle and oncoming traffic
  • At night or in poor visibility don’t stand where you will prevent other road users seeing your lights

Compare breakdown cover

One thing that certainly won’t take up much space in your car is your emergency breakdown card, complete with phone numbers to call in an emergency. Being a member of a breakdown service can bring you peace of mind. We can help you compare the costs of various types of breakdown cover so you can find the right cover for you.

To compare today with, simply follow this link.