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What to do when your car's broken down 

Sometimes your car gives little to no warning it's about to break down. If your tyre or battery's gone flat, or you have more serious engine trouble, it's a good idea to know what to do in a breakdown. When you're stuck on the side of the road, follow our tips to stay safe. 

Do 

Don't 

  • Move to the far-left side of the road, or find a breakdown bay. 
  • Don't keep driving if your car is struggling. 

Pull over as soon as you find a safe place. 

  • Turn on your hazard lights and parking lights.
  • Don't turn your lights off. 

Your lights let other drivers know you're there and helps to avoid a collision.

  • Don't get out of your car if there's nowhere safe to stand. 

Stay in your car with your belt on if there's nowhere safe to wait. 

Broken down on a motorway

With fast-moving cars, no escape route and little room to stand, being broken down on a motorway is a situation no-one wants to find themselves in. Follow our tips when you have a motorway breakdown. 

Do 

Don't 

  • Stop in the emergency breakdown lane. 
  • Don't stop in any of the driving lanes. 

Always move your car as far off the road as you can. 

  • Get to the far-left side of the road if you can't find an emergency stopping bay. 
  • Don't wave down traffic for help. 

Try not to distract other drivers. Wait for help far away from traffic, or stay buckled inside your car. 

  • Get out of your car on the passenger side to avoid getting out into traffic.
  • Don't get out of your car if there's nowhere safe to stand. 

Motorways have little room, so it's often safer staying buckled inside your car. 

  • Keep well away from the road by waiting behind the roadside barrier
  • Don't try to fix your car yourself.

Wait for a tow truck. They'll tow you to a safe location. 

  • Take your keys with you if you're getting out of your car. 
  • Don't turn your lights off. 

Let other motorists know you've broken down by keeping your hazard lights on. 

  • Keep your seatbelt on if you're staying in your car.  
  • Don't walk to find help. 

Wait for help when you're stuck on a motorway - it's the safest thing to do. 

  • Call Roadside Assistance. 

Broken down with passengers in the car

When you have passengers in your car and you break down, it's likely you'll feel responsible for everyone. When there's more people, there's more chance of distraction so follow our tips and keep everyone safe. 

Do 

Don't 

  • Make sure everyone's safe inside the car. 
  • Don't let anyone work on your car if you're on the side of a busy road or motorway. 

Keep passengers safe either far away from other traffic, or waiting in the car. 

 

  • Get everyone out of the car on the left passenger side if you're getting out into traffic.         
  • Call Roadside Assistance. 

Broken down with pets or children in the car 

Having pets or children in the car during a breakdown can cause a whole new set of challenges. Keeping everyone off the road takes a little more care, but with our tips you can make sure everyone's safe. If there are any pets or children locked in the car, it's considered an emergency so try to get help as quickly as you can. 

Do  

Don't 

  • Keep calm and reassure your kids and pets. 
  • Don't let your child or pet stand near, or walk across the road. 

Keep all kids and pets safely behind the roadside barrier. 

  • Use your judgement on whether to stay in the car or leave. Remember, car temps can rise quickly.
    Only exit the car if it's safe to do so. If you're staying in the car, keep all seatbelts on. 
  • Don't exit the car if it's not safe to do so. 

Always use your judgement on where you'll all be safest to stand.

  • Sit buckled beside your child if they're struggling or trying to get out of their seat.         
  • Don't be careless when you're waiting outside your car. 

Be extra careful when you're outside the car with pets or children. 

  • Call Roadside Assistance. 
  • Don't stay in the car if it's uncomfortably hot. 

If it's too hot, get outside for fresh air and find shade, wind down your car windows, or turn on
the AC if your engine's running. 

Broken down at night

When you've broken down at night it can be a challenge. With Roadside Assistance available 24/7, there's no need to feel worried. We'll reach you when you need us most. 

Do 

Don't 

  • Immediately activate your hazard lights and parking lights. 
  • Don't turn your lights off, at any time. 

It's more difficult to see a stopped car at night time so keep your lights on to warn other drivers on the road. 

  • Take note of your exact location. It's a little trickier to see vehicles at night so let your
    patrol know exactly where you are. Download the RACQ Roadside Assistance app -
    it pinpoints your location automatically from your phone's GPS.                                                                            
  • Don't cross the road or wait close to the road. 

Stay safe either inside your car with your seatbelt on, or far away from moving traffic. 

  • Exit the car where it's safe, not into traffic. 


  • Don't try to work on your car in the dark. 

Just wait for a patrol - it's the safest thing to do. 

 
  • Be aware if you're approached for help. 
  •  Call Roadside Assistance.

Broken down in a storm 

When living in Queensland, it's inevitable you'll be caught out in a storm at some stage. When your car has broken down, keep safe while waiting for help in wild weather. 

Do 

Don't 

  • Stay inside your car with your seatbelt on. 
  • Don't get out of your car. 

It's safer inside your car when it's hailing, heavy rain or there is lightning and thunder. It's also more difficult for other motorists to see you when you're outside. 

  • Keep away from windows in a hail storm. Put a blanket or towel over yourself and other passengers if the windows or windscreen is cracking. 
  • Don't stop under a tree or under any other construction that may fall down. 

Find a clear location, like an emergency bay which is away from power lines and other items that could fall on you. 

  • Keep your hazard lights and parking lights on. 
  • Don't try to fix your car. 

Wait for a patrol - they'll tow you to a safe location. 

  • Call Roadside Assistance. 

Broken down overseas 

Just like in Australia, there's universal breakdown etiquette that keeps yourself and others safe. With overseas motoring clubs, you can get help and be back enjoying your holiday again in no time. 

Do 

Don't 

  • Know the assistance number before you drive. 
  • Don't wave down any cars for help. 

There could be a language or culture barrier so call for professional help.

  • Pull over on the shoulder or breakdown bay furthest from traffic. Remember, this may be the right-side lane in another country.  
  • Don't pull to the left side of the road if you're in a country that's right-hand drive. 

Get far away from other traffic by moving off the road. 

  • Turn on your hazard lights and parking lights. 
  • Don't skimp on Roadside Assistance when you're hiring a car. 

Choose Roadside Assistance whenever you're hiring a car. RACQ has reciprocal agreements in some countries. 

 

  • Call the rental car company or Roadside Assistance number you were given.