Roadside roulette

The cost of driving without breakdown cover

25 July 2011

You could be in for an expensive shock if your car breaks down without cover this summer as arranging one-off emergency assistance from a garage costs up to six times as much as annual roadside assistance.

Last year drivers without cover spent an average of £172.67 calling out a garage and getting their car fixed. Basic AA breakdown cover costs from £28.

Cost, stress and inconvenience

There are 6 million drivers without breakdown cover and around 720,000 (12%) of them suffered a breakdown last year. Collectively they paid up to £104 million more than if they had taken out basic roadside assistance cover.

Only a quarter (24%) of them had their car fixed at the roadside so most were simply recovered to a garage for repair at additional cost. On top of the extra financial pain, they faced the extra time, stress and inconvenience of trying to find a garage that could help when they may have been in a vulnerable or unfamiliar location or the dark of night.

80% roadside fix rate

By comparison, the AA's roadside fix rate is around 80% saving the cost and inconvenience of garage repair work. Annual breakdown cover offers around-the-clock peace of mind against multiple breakdowns per year to avoid unforeseen costs that many can ill afford.

False economy

Although in the current climate with record fuel prices it's tempting to save a few quid by going without breakdown cover, it's a false economy.

Keith Miller, AA patrol of the year, warns that "With summer temperatures and congestion, breakdowns can rocket, so sooner or later your luck will run out and you'll be hit in the pocket – not to mention all the time and hassle you'll face when you're suddenly stranded.

"A third of all breakdowns are down to problems with batteries and tyres and mishaps with keys which can hit you any time, regardless of the age or type of car. Breakdown cover gives you peace of mind – driving without it is just not worth the risk."

Breakdown prevention

Last summer, the AA alone attended around 820,000 breakdowns. To meet the extra demand we have more patrols on duty and temporarily relocate others to prime holiday hotspots such as the South-west.

However, up to half of all breakdowns could be prevented by doing regular maintenance checks and servicing.

Checking the tyres, oil, coolant level, cooling fan and other basics only takes a few minutes but it does make a difference.

Don't forget to carry a fully-charged mobile, plenty of drinking water, food and some things to keep the kids entertained too.

And, before heading off, plan your route and check the traffic reports to avoid unnecessary delays.