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Quarter of a million cars headed for a summer holiday breakdown

Emma Lunn
Written By:
Emma Lunn

With rail strikes and airport chaos, millions of Brits will be hitting the road for their summer holiday. But 250,000 cars could breakdown, a motoring group warns.

Research by the AA found that 16 million cars are expected to be taken on holiday trips in the UK this summer. Those most likely to breakdown include those used primarily in cities or owned by families.

Of 3,742 AA members who went on motoring holidays during the first two May bank holidays, 61 (1.6%) had their trips grind to a halt because of breakdowns.

The breakdown rate among the May bank holiday drivers points to a potential 250,000 cars suffering some kind of mechanical defects on the roads this summer.

With industrial action threatened on the railways and at airports, more travellers may opt to go on holiday by car in the UK this summer.

‘Holiday challenges of heat and traffic jams’

City drivers and those most likely to have a family on board are particularly vulnerable to breakdowns, the AA research suggests. Londoners (3.5%) are more than twice as likely to suffer a breakdown on a holiday trip, with East Midlanders not far off (3%).

Drivers who are likely to have a young family (25 to 34 years) are most likely to encounter a roadside breakdown. At 3.9%, they are nearly two-and-a-half times more at risk than the average.

Among lower-income car owners, 22 in every 1,000 will endure a breakdown while holidaying by car, versus 13 among the most well-off.

Nick Powell, AA patrol of the year, said: “The low mileages that city cars tend to do, particularly in London, makes it more difficult for their owners to pick up on things that may be going wrong with their vehicles. Go on a journey of hundreds of miles, with the summer holiday challenges of heat and traffic jams, and hidden faults such as tyre and coolant problems can easily spring up and ruin a holiday.

“The breakdown threat to families is quite worrying but perhaps understandable. Faced with so many other things on their minds and demands on their finances, car care may take a back seat – until the parents and kids find themselves waiting on the verge for help to arrive.”

How to reduce your chances of breaking down

  • Check your oil and coolant levels and your tyres
  • Familiarise yourself with your dashboard warning lights
  • Check your spare tyre
  • Consider booking a pre-holiday car check.

Download what3words

If you’re broken down and need to call a breakdown service, using what3words helps pinpoint your exact location.

Download the app to your mobile before setting off on a long journey. What3words works offline, making it ideal for areas with unreliable data connections.

How to use what3words:

  • Open the app
  • Wait for the blue dot to settle in one place
  • Tap to locate yourself using your phone’s GPS
  • The three words at the top of the screen indicate your location.