Picture this. You’re all road trip ready; the playlist is filled with tunes singing of endless highways; the snacks are crunchy, salty and plentiful; the air freshener is sandalwood and the sat nav is dialled in to the dulcet tones of Burt Reynolds. It’s just you and the open road, kid, and nothing can stop you now. Except, of course, a breakdown. It’s best then to always be ready, mentally and physically, so its interruption to your trip is brief and bantam. Here’s how; our 5 IDEAL ways to be prepared for your car breaking down.

MAKE SURE YOUR CAR’S IN SHAPE

So first things first, it’s crucial to get your car in shape for the toils of travel. Take it for a spin before you set off and inspect it and look out for any problems. If you find any, it will soon become apparent what needs fixing. If your car hasn’t been serviced in a while, then get one done well in advance. There’s nothing worse than a road trip delayed, shortened or even cancelled by a flailing, failing car. Even if things seem fine, it’s still worth going to your local garage and getting an experienced mechanic to inspect all the belts, hoses and windscreen wipers, if only for a little extra peace of mind.

GET BREAKDOWN COVER

If the unthinkable should befall you during your road trip, then it’s best to be prepared, so you can get repaired and back on your way as quickly (and at as little financial burden) as possible. One of the simplest paths to peace of mind is through breakdown cover, sometimes known as breakdown and recovery. This can come in many guises, shapes and sizes, but usually encompasses fixing of your car at the scene of the breakdown, or if more attention is needed, a towing to a nearby garage for further work. You can sometimes get this breakdown cover as part of your whole car insurance policy, but also as a separate package, which often works out cheaper. With some companies, an auto rewards program is available, which earns you credits towards car maintenance and kit purchases if you enrol.

CREATE A BREAKDOWN KIT

A well-stocked emergency breakdown kit should be kept in the boot of your vehicle as a precaution at all times. This kit should include, at the very least, a flashlight, jumper cables, extra fluid for your windscreen wipers and oil. Tyres are one of the biggest causes of breakdown, and carrying a spare one is essential. In addition, if you’re confident/handy enough to change the tyre yourself without the help of the breakdown cover we previously mentioned, pack the appropriate tools for completing the job.

As an extra provision, it’s also a good idea to carry an empty fuel carrier as if you’re within walking distance of a petrol station, filling it up could be enough to get to your next destination, or at the very least, to the next petrol station.

LEARN TO DO THE BASICS

Anything and everything can be learnt these days via youtube video or handy instructional slide show, so there really isn’t any excuse for setting off on your road trip without being equipped with the fundamental knowledge of the mechanics of your car. Then, if a simple bump in the road rears up, you’ll have the right tools, metaphorically speaking, to deal with it. A rudimentary knowledge of how to change a flat tyre, car battery replacement, changing oil, replacing head and tail light bulbs and jumpstarting your car should see you right.

CARRY A SPARE SET OF KEYS

Amazingly, after all the talk of mechanics and technicals, one of the biggest breakdown problems is also the simplest; either losing your keys or locking them in the car. So save yourself the embarrassment of calling out your breakdown cover provider to fish them out of a drain with a manipulated coat hanger or jimmy the door open, and carry a spare set with you at all times. Red faces all round will be avoided, and we all want that, don’t we?

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Rachel is the beauty and fashion director at IDEAL. She loves trying new products and is an avid fan of London's fashion, from the high end to the high street.