A Guide to: Van Breakdown
If you're a self-employed tradesmen, a fully operational van is absolutely vital to your daily work. In fact, going as little as a two or three of days without income can blow a massive hole in your annual finances.
That's why it's hugely important that are prepared for possible breakdowns, making sure that you take appropriate precuations and protect yourself with reliable insurance cover.
How can I prevent breakdowns?
While planning for possible emergencies on the road is important, prevention is always better than the cure. Most van breakdowns that occur in the UK are as the result of basic maintenance errors, and by taking certain precautions before you drive, you can ensure they don't happen to you.
Below are some of the things you should check before hitting the road.
• What type of fuel your van takes. It seems obvious, but plenty of people slip up by filling their diesel tank up with petrol. Be cautious, and ask for help at the pump if you're unsure.
• Tyre tread and pressure. The condition of your tires has a massive impact on how quickly you are able to stop, which in turn prevents you from having to slam on and overwork the brakes.
• Coolant levels. Remember that the environment has a massive impact on the performanceof your vehicle. If it's hot outside, your car could rapidly run out of coolant, potentially causing the engine to overheat.
• Oil levels. A surprising number of drivers find themselves stranded on a motorway lay-by because their engines lack oil. If you have a long journey ahead, check your oil, and ensure you take a back-up cannister with you.
• Your battery. Car batteries going flat because someone left their headlights on all night isn't just a lazy plot device in horror movies. Make sure yours is in good nick before you head out, and always turn everything off when you park up.
What level of insurance cover is right for me?
When it comes to insurance, the level of cover you take out will mostly depend on the breadth of the area in which you work.
If you're visiting clients mainly within your local communtiy, for example, then you will probably only require basic roadside assistance. If, on the other hand, your job involves travelling up and down the country, you will need to take out much more comprehensive insurance.
Below are some of the different cover levels and the services they generally provide.
As above, local cover protects you in the event you breakdown within a specific, pre-agreed part of the country. Run into trouble further afield and you will be in trouble.
National cover, as its name implies, will provide assistance for you anywhere in the country.
Roadside cover helps those who have broken down by despatching an engineer to their location. If the engineer cannot fix the van, they will help you get to the nearest garage instead.
Home cover is where an engineer can be sent to your home address if you are unable to get your van started. Some will also cover a certain radius around your home as well, although they can be very strict - so make sure you know where you can and can't go in advance.
The most comprehensive level of cover, onward packages will both send someone to assist you at roadside and provide you with an alternative means of transport if they can't get your vehicle going again. This ensures that you always reach your job and don't miss out on any income. It can even cover accommodation expenses if you are unable to drive home.
What to do if you van breaks down?
- The first and most important thing is not to panic. Just breathe and take everyone out of the van if you are travelling with company
- If you are on the motorway - stop on the hard shoulder and put you hazard lights on and put your warning triagle up.
- If you are on a small road - turn your wheels to the left, put your hazard lights on and warning triangle up.
- Call your breakdown provider while making sure that you are visible - put hi visible jackets on.
- Don't try to fix the problem yourself while stressing out - the professionals will do it in no time.