What to Do if You’ve Broken Down

It’s bound to happen just when you least need it. Rushing to an important interview, catching a flight or into the meeting to make your career and suddenly you’ve broken down. Regardless of where you were heading breaking down is bound to be at least a little stressful. Not only are you temporarily stranded but it might mean a hefty repair bill for the car. 

Preparing for such a situation is more important than you think, it’ll pay off in spades even if you think your car is in ideal condition. Having this information on hand at the right moment can be a lifesaver.

If you want to stay safe on all types of roads, keep reading to find out what to do if your car breaks down. 

Where You Break Down Matters

It’s important to note that where your car breaks down influences your solution. Different types of roads have different traffic flows, speed limits, and rules. That is why you’ll need to take a different approach depending on the road your car breaks down. 

Here’s how you should react to a car breakdown on different types of roads. 

Motorways and Dual Carriageways

It can be incredibly stressful when your car breaks down on a motorway or dual carriageway. Bigger and faster cars speeding by yours can increase the stress levels, so it’s crucial to complete each step of the solution with precaution. 

Here is what you must do if your car breaks down on a motorway or dual carriageway:

  1. First, you’ll need to turn on your hazard lights and do your best to pull into the hard shoulder. Regardless of whether your car has completely stopped, your hazard light will let others know you’re experiencing difficulty. This step is crucial after dark. It can be hard to tell if a car ahead of you is moving or slowing in the dark. 
  2. Once you’ve pulled over as far from traffic as possible, turn your wheels to the left. In the unfortunate event your car gets hit from behind your car will be pushed further into the hard shoulder and not out into traffic. If you have any high-visibility clothing, this is the perfect time to put it on. 
  3. Then, carefully exit your car, away from traffic, and move away from the hard shoulder. Climb over the passenger seat if you have to. This ensures your safety as cars speed past. Wait at least a few meters away from your vehicle further into the hard shoulder.
  4. Although it may seem like the right decision at the time, it’s crucial not to try and diagnose or repair your car. Coming close to your vehicle and the fast-moving traffic in such situations can be dangerous. 
  5. Contact the local Garda station on your mobile or use the SOS phones on the motorway. Once you’ve detailed your location to the right authorities, you can call your breakdown assistance or a local carriage. 
  6. If you are lucky and get your car fixed on the spot, you may re-join the motorway while staying on the hard shoulder until you’ve built adequate speed. Try to match other road users’ speeds before re-joining the main motorway. 

No matter your expertise, it’s important not to attempt repairing or diagnosing your car, even if the problem seems basic. The risk of another vehicle hitting you is high on motorways and dual carriageways, so it’s best to stay a few meters away from your car. 

Do not place a warning triangle down if you have one. Motorway speeds make it unsafe to do so. You should be pulled into the hard shoulder fully so there’s no need on a motorway.  

National and Regional Roads

If your car breaks down on a national or smaller road you may be in a worse situation than motorways and dual carriageways. On the former road you should have a hard shoulder to pull into and long curves in the roads. Even if you are dealing with much faster traffic. On National and regional roads, the traffic should be slower but you’re not guaranteed anywhere to pull in safely. You may get stuck just around a blind corner in a worst-case scenario. This is why it’s important to stay calm and try to follow some basic tips for staying safe. 

  1. First, you’ll need to do your best to pull your vehicle into a safe place. If you’re lucky enough and your car is still moving or rolling, you can try to pull it into a driveway or any other secure location. 
  2. Regardless of the time of day, turn your hazard lights on so that other drivers know you’re experiencing difficulties. If it’s after dark, you should also turn on your front and rear headlights. 
  3. Even though it’s a smaller road, cars might still pass by at high speeds. So, try to get out from the left side of your car, over the passenger side, away from oncoming traffic is essential. Step away from the vehicle by at least a few meters. Into the ditch if you have to. 
  4. Now is the right moment to wear high-visibility clothing if you have any. Since you’re on a smaller road, place a warning triangle approximately 50 meters behind your car. This will warn oncoming traffic, but only perform this step if it’s safe. 
  5. Unlike a car breakdown on a motorway, if you break down on national or smaller roads you should get back into your car after placing the warning triangle. This is because there’s no safe road shoulder to stay in so your car is the safest spot. If you’ve pulled into a friendly driveway and they offer to wait inside with a cup of tea, we wouldn’t argue against that either. 
  6. Now, you can call the local Gardai to inform them about your situation and detail your exact location. Then, call your breakdown assistance service or contact a local garage for help.
  7. If your car is blocking traffic its essential to call your local Garda station. They will often set up traffic diversions until your car is dealt with. 


A car breakdown can be the worst nightmare for a driver, especially if you’re on a fast-moving major road like a motorway or dual carriageway. Knowing the correct steps after your car breaks down is your only preparation to stay safe. 

Besides the procedures mentioned above, you may also want to invest in a breakdown cover and keep a breakdown kit in your car for emergencies. That includes a torch, warning triangle, and high-visibility clothing. 

Lastly, make sure to service your car before a long journey to guarantee the most safety. 

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