Best breakdown cover 2018

Our lastest Driver Power survey reveals the best car breakdown cover providers for coming to the rescue in a roadside emergency

Breakdown cover can add huge reassurance to your motoring life, but unless you do your research, you’ll only find out how good your breakdown cover provider is when you call upon it in your hour of need. That’s where our Driver Power results kick in: by asking our readers about their real-life experiences with breakdown cover, we’re able to paint an accurate picture of the sort of service you can expect.

To help you make the right decision, we’ve ranked the top 25 breakdown providers in the UK, detailing the top five across seven categories. You’ll laso find information of the most common response times and the reasons why motorists tend to use breakdown services.

• Click here to take the Driver Power SurveyWhy did you call the firm out?Mechanical fault33.20%Flat battery26.40%Tyre puncture17.20%Misfuel6.80%Ran out of fuel6.70%Other 9.70%

Almost half of our readers called upon their breakdown provider following a mechanical fault or flat battery, with punctures prompting a further one in six callouts. Running out of petrol or diesel was behind 6.7 per cent of rescues, with misfuelling accounting for a similar proportion of breakdowns. Interestingly, over twice as many people reported running out of fuel or misfuelling this year compared with 2017. 

• Best car insurance companies 2018

How long did it take the breakdown provider to arrive at your vehicle?Less than 30 minutes18.00%30 minutes to one hour42.90%One hour to two hours27.70%Two hours to three hours8.20%More than three hours3.20%

Breaking down can be dangerous, particularly if you’ve stopped on a motorway hard shoulder or refuge area – so it’s reassuring to learn that the majority of Driver Power respondents were rescued within an hour of reporting their plight. The 27.7 per cent waiting between one and two hours may consider that time to be reasonable, but the same is unlikely to be said of the 11.4 per cent forced to wait for two or more hours.

Result of calloutTowed to garage of choice18.00%Garage of provider’s choice3.20%Towed to location of choice8.40%Problem permanently fixed and I continued my journey37.70%Problem temporarily fixed and I continued my journey30.30%They couldn’t help me2.30%

Reassuringly, the most common result for roadside breakdowns is the car being repaired there and then, either temporarily or permanently. And while almost a third of breakdowns resulted in cars being towed away, in most instances readers were taken to a dealer or location of their choice. Technicians were unable to help in just 2.3 per cent of cases, down from three per cent last year. 

Reason for choosing providerPrice28.50%Good service9.20%Used in the past9.30%Range of services8.40%They offer loyalty discounts4.30%Recommended8.20%Reputation9.50%Free with another service12.90%Free with the car6.10%Other3.60%

Price is clearly the main factor when choosing a provider, but with good service and reputations motivating almost a fifth of buying decisions, breakdown firms can’t rely on attractive deals alone. The offer of a range of services, such as insurance, attracted 8.4 per cent of buyers, while loyalty discounts retain almost one in 20 drivers.

Top 5 best car breakdown cover providers 2018

Scroll down to discover full details on the UK’s best breakdown cover providers as voted for by you…

5. AA – 88.12%

Members place the largest provider here fifth overall, giving respectable scores in all areas. An impressive 68.2 per cent were attended to within the hour, while 27.3 per cent of cars were permanently fixed. You also told us the AA was very good at keeping you informed, and that cover was easy to purchase. While it didn’t stand out hugely in any other areas, it posted a series of fairly consistent results.

Customer’s view: “The AA couldn’t repair my key fob, but it found a specialist to fix it at a reasonable cost.”

Arrived within an hour? 68.2%  
Top result of callout: Permanent fix 27.3%

4. AutoAid – 88.90%

AutoAid slips from second place last year, but given the strength of the competition, that’s not a genuine fall from grace. In fact, more technicians arrived within the hour than those from any other company in our top five. AutoAid also came second for how easy cover was to organise, and it repaired an impressive 31.6 per cent of members’ cars permanently by the roadside. The same proportion received a temporary patch, too.

Customer’s view: “We broke down with our new baby. The kind technician turned a nasty experience into a mere blip.”

Arrived within an hour? 71.1%  
Top result of callout: Permanent fix 31.6% 

Get a quote from AutoAid here

3. Green Flag – 89.59%

The top provider for keeping customers informed, Green Flag is praised for having some of the friendliest staff of all. Its technicians and their vans were also felt to be the best presented, but Green Flag lost points for roadside repairs. Still, you told us no other firm offers better value for money, while not one respondent reported it was unable to help them. A bronze finish is hard earned and well deserved.

Customer’s view: “The technician was polite and didn’t make me feel stupid for having a flat battery!”

Arrived within an hour? 70.6%
Top result of callout: Permanent fix 35.3% 

2. Britannia Rescue – 89.71%

A higher proportion of Britannia Rescue customers’ cars were fixed at the roadside – either temporarily or permanently – than those of any other company, helping it secure second place here. The majority of callouts were attended to within an hour, while staff gained strong scores for friendliness. Results like these help Britannia clinch the silver medal, with the company shooting up from fifth place last year.

Customer’s view: “Arrived in 25 minutes and diagnosed the fault, helping my car get repaired that day.”

Arrived within an hour? 65.2%
Top result of callout: Permanent fix 34.8% 

Get a quote from Britannia Rescue here 

1. GEM Motoring Assist – 90.12%

Taking the top spot for the sixth year in a row, GEM is ranked well in almost every area. No other firm offers a better purchasing process, while 70.8 per cent of incidents were attended to within the hour, with a quarter of faults being permanently fixed and a further fifth receiving a temporary patch to get drivers on their way. GEM customers are more likely to recommend the company than members of any other breakdown organisation.

Customer’s view: Friendly, accommodating, communicative – GEM got me home with minimal fuss.”

Arrived within an hour? 70.8%  
Top result of callout: Permanent fix 26.2% 

Get a quote from GEM Motoring Assist here

UK breakdown cover providers 1 to 251GEM Motoring Assist2Britannia Rescue3Green Flag4AutoAid5AA6RAC7Saga8Start Rescue9Kwik Fit10Hastings Insurance/Hastings Direct11Autonational Rescue12Swinton13National Breakdown14Direct Line15Tesco16Breakdown Assist17Rescue My Car18Autohome Assistance19Aviva20AXA21First Call22Admiral23Asda24Adrian Flux252getherDriver Power breakdown cover case study

Name: Ricky Tang
Lives: North London Drives: Honda Jazz

“I’ve been with GEM since 2009, and was lucky enough not to use it for the first few years,” explained driving instructor Ricky. “My car’s getting older, though, and I called GEM after it conked out. “A recovery truck came within 40 minutes and the mechanic was polite and helpful; it was cold, so he let me wait in his warm cab.” 

The gearbox issue couldn’t be fixed by the roadside, so Ricky’s car was taken to a dealer – and then to a cheaper place in the next town when the repair quote was too high. “GEM told me it wouldn’t charge me to take my car there, and tailored the service around my timetable and needs. I’ve recommended GEM to family, friends and students.”

A recovery truck came within 40 minutes and the mechanic was polite and helpful; he let me wait in his warm cab while he inspected my car.”

Now see the best cars to own in 2018, compiled from Driver Power data.

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