Your worst car breakdown recovery experience?

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  • Your worst car breakdown recovery experience?
  • I'll tell you mine in a minute…


    Numerous people have been been left stuck at home lately as the breakdown companies (or at least AA, RAC and Green flag) put a 24hr stop on home vist's during the recent bad weather and were telling people to call back the next day, a couple of people were waiting for at least 4 days.

    4 days – gosh!

    My car suffered a fault, while returning home from work, at an isolated spot on the unlit B3139, a national speed limit road. I had to leave the car on the carriageway as the verges were snow covered. I left the car with hazards flashing and contacted AA, explaining that the car was in a hazardous position and it was stated that my recovery was a priority.
    An hour later, my hazard lights failed from a flat battery. I spent the next hour standing in the road, warning approaching cars that my unlit car was blocking carriageway, at some considerable risk to my personal safety. Around 20:30, a recovery land rover arrived. The operative attempted to fit a static bar for towing to a nearby garage. This failed because it was not compatible with the towing eyelets on my car. I was towed to a nearby layby on a rope and my partner came to collect me and take me home.
    At around midnight, a transporter arrived at my home to collect me, intending to recover my car, take it to a nearby garage and then return me home. Unfortunately the transporter lost traction on the snow and ice covered road surface and became unable to drive out of my road. The driver and I intermittently attempted to improve the surface by chipping away with the limited tools I had available, with limited success. The driver eventually realised he had a shovel and better progress was made.
    Around 01:30 in the morning, the first operative returned in the Land Rover and recovered the transporter allowing my recovery to continue. I finally made it to bed at 02:40 that morning!


    I had to wait in my car in a layby directly opposite a nice warm pub because the AA don't go into pubs when they're in uniform. torture.

    Premier Icon nickjb

    Our landrover has spent its fair share of time on the hard shoulder but it has been faultless during the snow

    Premier Icon matt_outandabout

    Bad (scary) was a double blow out at 70mph on Aston Expressway after some muppet had dropped a spade in the outside lane…
    After my pulse had calmed and sphincter stopped twitching, I realised that I could not fix it, plus a *really* narrow hard shoulder. Called green flag / police and ended up waiting 20mins with some poor copper sat behind me, half in 1st lane with blues on waiting for recovery – who promptly swapped a front tyre for rear and dragged us off there asap..
    Other than that, I have to say that RAC and green flag were ace the few times mates have had to call them.

    Premier Icon northshoreniall

    Couple years age Xantia blew hole in back of engine, lost power, suspension, steering and brakes in outside lane at 80. Managed to get to hard shoulder and call RAC from mobile, gave them bridge number parked beside, junction was 200 metres from and roadside marker number. Despite all this information and after 3 hours and many calls to them, with me and dog sat in dark on embankment get call from recovery truck wondering where by junction I was. He was 300 miles south on the M1 while I was sat 20 miles below Newcastle. Took another hour to get collected. Not a happy camper.


    Just remembered the time the wife's car broke down, at the junction of a private road and a roundabout on a main road, despite being less than 2ft from the main road the breakdown people wouldn't attend as the road she was on wasn't on there map, several hours later she's still there I arrive from work call the AA within an hour we were back at home. Last time either of us has had cover from anyone apart from the AA or Rac


    I had a track rod break (scary bouncing sideways and nearly hitting a wall scenario) on an old car in the middle of nowhere so I walked miles to the nearest village – no public phone, was the days before mobiles were common – so I knocked at someones door and they kindly let me use their phone.
    I called RAC and the lady on the phone asked 'is the car driveable', I said I doubted it, since both front wheels were pointed inwards and then for some reason she shouted at me 'well that's NOT for you to decide…'. Huh? (this was also in the days before I became a bolsy cow so I didn't argue with her.)
    The lovely lady at the house gave me a lift back to my car and I waited for about an hour. EVENTUALLY the mechanic turned up, took one look and said 'that's not driveable, I'll have to call for a recovery truck', so I had to wait again for a recovery truck to come and pick me up.
    In his defense, the driver went nuts on my behalf because the controller woman had sent a mechanic out first off.


    this is not an AA call out story but driving back from FLa years ago with my brother his pick-up truck broke down about half way up a really long hill, on a motorway, at about
    after abit of fuffing about it turns out we just needed a jump start and a kindly trucker stopped to ask if we were ok… we explained and he said he couldnt jump start it but why don't you push start it?

    push start it? but we're facing up hill?

    he then kindly explained you could push start it in reverse.. just get it rolling to about 30mph and then drop it into reverse.

    so.. that's what we did.. downhill at 30mph in reverse, 3am

    I think I left a brown smudge.




    I used to have an old MGB and the fuel pump had gone. Recovery truck arrives and because the MG had a funny wee spoiler on the front there was nothing to attach the winch too. Tried pulling it backwards but the front just grounded instead

    So the recovery driver hatched the plan to drive it up the ramp on the starter motor, balancing it on a few planks of wood to make the transition onto the truck, and decided that it was best if he watched as I did it.

    Well blow me if the fuel pump didn't decide to revive itself halfway up. I was leaning out the window to see where my wheels were, so my foot was off the clutch when the engine started in gear. That was a bit brown trousers.

    Also had a car trashed by an attempted theft in the early hours of the new millennium, leaving it un-securable and un-drivable. When I discovered it in the morning it looked more like it had been in a RTA. Had to get it towed to somewhere secure. How many call centre operators would have turned up for work that day do you think? My phone records showed that I spent over 2 hrs listening to a loop of "Come on and Rescue Me"


    Not me, a chum….

    Clutch failed with car in first, couldn't get it out of gear. Recovery arrived with low loader and operative insisted he load car onto bed ('elf and safety mate').

    Chum reminds him about clutch and gear relationship…. Man starts car floors accelerator, dips clutch (nothing) and deposits out of control car in water filled dyke… Ooops.


    Worked for the AA in Dover harbour a couple of summers back in the early 90's. The patrol men used to use the shop as a coffee room and we had a few interesting stories the best of which being a patrol man having set fire to a car plus luggage which about to go on a family holiday.


    Plenty of cars being stolen from garages and the back of transporters in France too!


    having worked on the front desk of a couple of garages ive met lots of rac / aa type guys and frankly, appart from a few diamonds in the rough, they employ so many muppets. just dont bother with the cover.stick the month direct debit in an account and if you ever break down do 18185 and ask for the nearest tow truck company and get them to take you and the car to you local garage/home or whatever is nearest to destination.most independent companys are much better.
    so many recovery bods would come in going "ah yes i think you will find the so and so is the cause"…never was! it was always something else.aa diagnosis was a running joke where i worked…

    Premier Icon bakey

    A bike rather than a car and the RAC. A long annoying story but it took 4 hrs to get home when a dumb RAC operator failed to grasp that a Triumph T595 is nothing like a Triumph Spitfire…

    Premier Icon turboferret

    My housemate broke down in my old Seat which he had borrowed to take to an NPS at Innerleithen. CV joint had fallen appart, so not repairable.

    Was recovered by a series of transporters, about 4 or 5 in all back to Guildford, each one doing a short stretch.

    Took all night, but did save some fuel 🙂

    Cheers, Rich

    Premier Icon crazy-legs

    Driving into London about 5.30am one winter morning, I was on the A40(M) around White City somewhere. Pouring with rain, cold, dark, traffic was surprisingly heavy for so early and suddenly I was heard and sensed (rather than actually saw) something fall off a skip lorry that was ahead of me and one lane to my right. There was a massive BANG as something hit the drivers side rear wheel but the car seemed OK. I carried on driving, got onto the elevated section and it was obvious the rear had a puncture, the handling was all over.
    Pulled onto the narrow hard shoulder by an emergency phone, got out into the rain and looked at it and just thought "sod it, call recovery".

    I picked up the emergency phone and it started ringing then after about 30 seconds a message popped up on the screen saying "call back later" WTF?! 😯

    Anyway I crawled the car really slowly down the off-ramp at Paddington and pulled into a car park at the front of some posh business premises. The security guard was actually really helpful and let me phone for recovery, they arrived after about 40 minutes and changed the wheel. I had to unload masses of stuff from the boot to get to it though!

    There was no way I was going to change it on a narrow hard shoulder in the rain on an elevated bit of triple carriageway and I was worried about possible damage to the suspension as well.


    if you ever break down do 18185 and ask for the nearest tow truck company

    Also note Green Flag use local garage tow trucks – they've always sorted me out.

    Off-topic positive anecdote: in the space of a single Christmas holiday they took my old 405 estate from Reading to Cornwall (burnt-out alternator) and then later from Yorkshire back home to Cambridge (mystery fuel fault, eventually diagnosed as a dent in the tank underneath the float causing the gauge to read 1/4 full when it was actually empty).

    In between I'd driven down to Chamonix and then all the way up to Skye… a complicated holiday…


    I used to live in San Francisco. me and the missus were heading over the bay bridge to the east bay one evening to a friends house for dinner. This bridge (except we were on the bottom deck heading the other direction:

    The timing belt on my lovely Audi A4 quattro decided to snap and completely destroy my engine. I was half way over the bridge at the time, luckily at the apex/high point. All the electrics went dead, no power steering etc, but we manage to coast to the other side of the bridge, whilst huge juggernauts were flying past us at 100kmh. Luckily we managed to roll to the other side right up to the last sign, where beyond there was no free pickup service.

    I cant remember if we managed to get to the emergency phone or if we were just spotted on the cameras, but a tow truck turned up after about an hour (in the mean time we both had to squat and pee behind the car doors). Was pretty scary where we had come to a stop as it was right at a turn off and buses/trucks were careering towards us blaring their horns.

    Tow truck arrived and he wasn't best pleased that we had an all wheel drive as he had to get the back wheels up on trolleys to tow us. He was also going to tow us to Oakland (which is ruff as f*ck) but we managed to get him to tow us back to SF.

    A few days later we got a quote for the work, $3000 for a new engine, NICE!!!


    '79 Honda Goldwing blew a headgasket out in the sticks just approaching a country pub. First call to the AA asking for recovery was answered by 'be about an hour mate'
    when he arrived, there was no trailer as he hadn't be told!
    'be about 2 hours to go and fetch one'
    'oh dear' I said as he drives off.
    When he did return I could hardly stand as the pub sold Ruddles County on draught. Lol
    took me home after he struggled to load the bike on his own !


    Another bike thing…

    Back in my MZ riding days, a favourite bodge if you'd had too good a time at a rally and couldn't face the ride home was to swap over two small leads attached to the dynamo. Everything looked normal (no obvious loose connections) and all the electrics still worked, you just wouldn't get a spark from the ignition coil. Result – one bike that refused to start, and a lift home from National Breakdown instead. 😉

    Premier Icon BigJohn

    I had a morning meeting arranged in Bath a while ago and having always driven past a village called Nimlet I thought it looked wonderful for biking, so threw the bike in the back planning to go for a ride on the way back.

    So where did I break down on the way down? 50 yds from the very lay-by I had planned to stop in that afternoon.

    I spent all morning waiting for various breakdown men and transporters. Lost a morning's billing and didn't get a ride.

    Sometimes Green Flag just don't understand you'd prefer the truck to turn up in 3 hours rather than 20 minutes.


    Warning triangle FTW. I reckon they should be mandatory.


    Dad had a Volvo break down on a Fri eve about 15 years ago.

    Brittania came and put it on a lorry to take to the garage on the Mon.

    Late on the Mon my dad rang garage and they knew nothing about the car.

    Rang Brittania and they said "ah yes, well, we've been wondering how to tell you but the driver rolled his lorry over and crushed your car."

    Made the front of the papers.

    Dad was made up as the insurance paid top whack for it.

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