If you are hiring a car whilst away or even taking your own vehicle on the trip then do make sure that you have arranged insurance that includes roadside assistance and recovery as things can and do go wrong. It is tempting to think that breaking down is a long shot but long journeys and difficult terrain can make issues with the car more likely than ever. I travel abroad two or three times a year and have had enough problems to last a lifetime. In a remote area even a simple thing like a puncture can be big trouble.
The Grossglockner Road
The first time I experienced a problem I was in Austria. I had decided to drive the famous and very beautiful Grossglockner Road. As I made my way up into the mountains I had cause to laugh as I passed a couple of Ferraris which had appeared to have overheated when some very bashed up rust buckets from Eastern Europe were doing a good job of tackling the gradients. I was laughing on the other side of my face on the way back down later in the day when it became apparent that my gear box was failing.
I managed to limp the car back to my apartment where I did some research and located a Ford garage near Salzburg. The car just about made it there although it was touch and go and after an inspection I was told that it needed a new gear box but that it would take two weeks to get the part. I was due to go home in two days! I was mightily glad that I had taken out AA cover for travelling abroad and they arranged for a hire car to get me home. My own vehicle arrived back in the UK three weeks later!
The Susten Pass
There must be something about me and mountains because a few years later I was approaching the top of a mountain pass when there was a loud bang and I lost almost all power. Not being a mechanic I didn’t know what was wrong. This time I was in a Toyota and had to call them to find a dealer in Switzerland. The nearest place was about 30 miles away and I managed to get there travelling rather slowly. It turned out that a hose had flown of my turbo and it was a quick repair which took only a few minutes.
I thought that I had managed to get all of my bad luck in the mountains out of the way but I was wrong. Only this year I was skiing in Slovenia and after a tiring day on the slopes my partner and I just needed to pop to the local shops. We jumped into our hire car and my partner then promptly reversed into a slab of concrete in the parking area and burst a tyre. It was pitch black and we were in a small mountain village. A quick inspection of my hire documents revealed that I did have insurance cover for tyres. The local petrol station were able to put us in touch with a mobile tyre man and an hour later we were back on the road.
Think Before You Drive
Things can and do go wrong with cars when you are away and so if you hire ask about what happens if you breakdown and always take the tyre insurance. If you take your own car arrange for breakdown cover abroad before you leave as it is worth the extra cost. Even if you are a good mechanic you will not have the right equipment with you to deal with any issues and it is not a good feeling to be stranded in the mountains.
Article By Sally Stacey