• Henry Naylor

Don’t get caught out by breakdown repair costs

Each year, millions of motorists take out Breakdown Cover to ensure they receive professional help if they break down or their car fails to start.

Advances in technology, better equipment and highly trained breakdown patrol technicians mean more cars than ever get fixed at the roadside.

According to a recent study of 15,384 motorists conducted by What Car? magazine, the AA fixed 46% of vehicles at the roadside versus 43% for the RAC and 32% for Green Flag.

The survey results are great news for people who need to be on their way quickly. But motorists who need electrical or mechanical parts replacing could face costs running into hundreds or thousands of pounds.

And not all ‘at-home’ or roadside repairs are permanent. What Car?’s findings include temporary fixes which are designed to help motorists continue their journey to a local garage where final repairs are carried out. 

How can Breakdown Repair Cover help?

Breakdown Repair Cover (also known as Parts and Garage Cover) pays for many of the replacement parts needed to fix a car at the roadside. 

If your car needs towing to a garage for repairs, a breakdown repair policy covers the parts and labour costs, up to a specific limit.

You are safe in the knowledge that you won’t need a credit card, payday loan or overdraft extension to cover the costs.

Breakdown Repair Cover is ideal for young motorists driving older vehicles — people driving newer vehicles after the manufacturer’s warranty has expired — and people driving cars with expensive replacement parts costs.

Which parts fail the most?

According to the RAC, the following component failures cause the majority of severe breakdowns:

  • Clutch

  • Alternator

  • Cylinder Head Gasket

  • Cambelt

  • Water Pump

  • Alternator/Fan Belt

  • Starter Motor

  • Clutch - Slave Cylinder

  • Drive Shaft

  • Radiator

How much will Breakdown Repair Cover save me?

Faulty mechanical and electrical parts can be expensive to replace. Here are the costs you’ll need to pay on average for parts most commonly associated with a vehicle breakdown, according to the AA:

  • Starter Motor – £209

  • Radiator – £210

  • Alternator – £277

  • Turbo – £336

However, add a repair plan onto your existing Breakdown Cover policy and the parts and labour costs will be covered up to certain limits.

Who provides Breakdown Repair Cover policies?


The AA provides help to cover garage costs incurred after a vehicle breakdown.

Their standard policy provides

  • up to £535 cover per claim;

  • up to 5 claims per year (with a £35 excess each time); and

  • cover for up to 4 vehicles (as long as they are all registered to the same address).

The AA will tow your car to a nearby garage if they cannot fix the vehicle at the roadside. If your Breakdown Cover includes a national recovery option, you can have the car towed anywhere in the UK.

The AA will settle the bill directly with any approved garage so you won’t have to pay out for repairs and then make a claim.


The RAC Warranty provides 4 levels of cover to suit your needs:

Platinum Plus Maintenance & Breakdown

  • Pays up to £50 including vat (or 1-hours labour if lower) to diagnose a fault, plus

  • Everything covered in the Platinum Maintenance & Breakdown plan.

Platinum Maintenance & Breakdown

  • Covers ALL mechanical and electrical components. 

  • Available for vehicles up to 7 years old with less than 70,000 miles recorded when the policy is taken out.

  • No mileage restrictions.

Gold Maintenance & Breakdown

  • Covers specifically listed components.

  • Covers the majority of components, including many high technology parts.

  • Available for vehicles up to 10 years old with less than 100,000 miles recorded when the policy is taken out.

Silver Maintenance & Breakdown

  • Covers specifically listed components.

  • Covers the essentials such as Engine, Turbo, Gearbox, Final Drive, Starter Motor & Alternator

  • Available for vehicles of any age, regardless of recorded mileage.

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