We compare 26 car breakdown cover companies, including the AA, RAC, Green Flag, LV Britannia Rescue and Start Rescue, to reveal the best and cheapest car breakdown cover providers.

Car Breakdown  provider

 

The car breakdown cover service you sign up to makes a big difference. The best will almost always get to you in under an hour and, in most instances, have the tools and the knowledge to get your car going again.

The worst can leave you stranded at the side of the road for hours, and have much less chance of fixing your vehicle there and then. Our ratings are based on direct feedback from more than 8,000 people who had to call out their breakdown service within the 12 months prior to completing our survey. You can trust our findings as they’re based on the real life experiences of people using these services.

The tables below reveals how the 26 companies we’ve rated stack up against each other – we also help you to make sense of the results. The best breakdown providers aren’t always the most expensive.

Keep reading to compare the best and worst third-party breakdown cover and the best and worst manufacturer cover. 

Compare third-party breakdown cover providers

Third-party breakdown providers, such as the AA or RAC,  provide cover for almost any car and usually charge annually, although some may offer monthly payment options. Third-party providers also provide breakdown cover that may be bundled with other services you pay for – such as a packaged bank account or car insurance. We’ve rated 12 third-party breakdown cover companies. Four are  our Recommended Providers (and which four these are might surprise you). You can read the analysis of our results underneath the table of best and worst third-party cover.

Best and worst third parties for breakdown cover with overall score

Axa (54)    81%

Start Rescue (146)    76%

AA (2,313)    75%

LV Britannia Rescue (286)    74%

Admiral Breakdown Cover     74%

Autoaid Breakdown (166)     67%

GEM Motoring Assist (48) 

  65% Green Flag Breakdown Cover (692)   77%   63%

Asda UK Breakdown Cover (71)     52%   62%

Aviva Breakdown (52)       61%

RAC (1,415)     60%

Allianz Assistance (72)   57%

Third-party breakdown cover providers

Axa (82%)

Axa is this year’s top third-party provider in our car breakdown survey. It fixes 78% of cars at the side of the road, and 91% of its customers told us it arrived in less than an hour.

It’s breakdown cover is one of the cheapest in our survey for basic roadside cover and policies that include both home assistance and national recovery. Axa offers four levels of cover: Axa Local, Axa Nationwide, Axa Nationwide and Homestart and Axa Annual European.

Start Rescue (76%)

Start Rescue is our cheapest Which? Recommended Provider. At the time of writing, it costs less than £40 for comprehensive cover (this includes basic roadside assistance, home cover and national recovery – see our guide on how to buy the best breakdown cover for a full explanation of different levels of cover). This is cheaper than the most basic cover (roadside assistance only) from the AA.

Start Rescue doesn’t fix quite the same proportion of cars at the side of the road as Axa, based on our survey results. But it does reach 86% of people in less than an hour, and it has the highest customer score of any third-party provider.

All five of Start Rescue’s policy levels include cover for onward travel and emergency overnight accommodation. It has an app that allows you to report a breakdown and track the progress of the recovery patrol.

AA (75%)

The AA performed very well in the field this year, fixing 78% of cars at the side of the road, and 85% of its customers told us the AA arrived in less than an hour. The main drawback is the high cost of cover. The AA’s policies are among the priciest of all providers in our survey.

But it still gets a decent value-for-money rating from its customers. Rather than offering set policy levels, the AA lets you choose to include at-home cover, national recovery, onward travel and parts or garage cover in any combination you choose, along with compulsory roadside assistance.

The AA app features breakdown reporting, patrol tracking, a route planner, traffic updates, charging station locations for electric vehicles, and will help you identify your car’s warning lights.

LV Britannia Rescue (74%)

Price-wise, LV Britannia Rescue sits midway between the AA and Start Rescue. Although it’s not the very fastest, it has consistently decent response times; only 12% of customers waited more than an hour for assistance to arrive.  It doesn’t fix as many cars at the roadside as our other WRPs, but it’s well regarded by customers, with the second-highest customer score of the third-party providers.

Those with LV car insurance can get cover at a discount – find out more about LV car insurance. LV offers five policy levels that all include unlimited callouts and will cover you if your car breaks down as a result of an accident or lack of maintenance. It can also recharge electric vehicles at the roadside.

Third-party breakdown providers to avoid The worst providers are slow to respond, and their customer service is often lacklustre.  Allianz Assistance sits at the bottom of our table, with the second-lowest customer score and lowest overall score. Its prices are fairly low but, according to our survey, one in five customers had to wait more than an hour for assistance to arrive.

 

Best and worst car manufacturers for breakdown cover Provider

Lexus Roadside Assistance (59)    90%

Toyota Roadside Assistance (225)    86%

Honda Breakdown Assistance (102)    83%

Hyundai Roadside Assistance (59)    81%

Skoda Roadside Assistance (77)     76%

Ford Assistance (98)    73%

Volkswagen Roadside Assistance (51)   70%

Audi Roadside Assistance (99)     63% Jaguar Assistance (40)    62%

Nissan Roadside Assistance (64)    62%

Land Rover Assistance (57)   60%

BMW Roadside Assistance (102)    56%

Volvo Assistance (100) 78%    53%

Mercedes-Benz Roadside Assistance (106)  52%

 

Third-party breakdown providers to avoid

The worst providers are slow to respond, and their customer service is often lacklustre.  Allianz Assistance sits at the bottom of our table, with the second-lowest customer score and lowest overall score. Its prices are fairly low but, according to our survey, one in five customers had to wait more than an hour for assistance to arrive.

Compare manufacturer breakdown cover providers

Car manufacturer-branded cover comes free for a set period of time (typically one or three years) when you buy a new car. Most car manufacturers will extend this breakdown cover by 12 months at no extra cost if you have the car serviced at a dealership or by an authorised repairer.

The carmakers don’t actually provide the breakdown service; instead, it’s supplied by a third-party provider such as the AA or RAC. As an example, if you’ve bought a new Ford you will get ‘Ford Assistance’ breakdown cover. But as the AA is the provider, it will be an AA van that turns up to help you if your Ford fails.

We’ve rated the breakdown cover provided by 14 car manufacturers. Three were good enough to be our Recommended Providers  – all of these got to more than 85% of breakdowns within an hour, and their high customer scores show their customers are happy with the service.

Recommended manufacturer breakdown cover providers

Lexus customers have it best – the manufacturer’s roadside assistance arrived inside an hour for more than nine out of 10 customers. And no other company could match Lexus’ 89% when it came to fixing cars at the scene of the breakdown.

Owners of new Toyotas and Hondas can also rest assured that they’ll get excellent service if their new cars develop a few teething issues. Lexus and Honda owners will be particularly buoyed by the three full years of free cover they’ll get (Toyota gives just one year as standard).

What makes a WRP for breakdown cover?

To become a Which? Recommended Provider (WRP) for breakdown cover, both third-party providers and car manufacturers must receive a customer score of at least 70% and be among the best performers when it comes to how long customers had to wait for help to arrive and how knowledgeable the mechanic was.

Third-party providers are also rated on how successful they were when it came to fixing the fault at the scene of the breakdown. All ratings are based on the survey responses of more than 8,000 customers who experienced a breakdown in the 12 months prior to our survey.

Customer score

The customer score reflects how satisfied customers say they are with their provider and how likely they would be to recommend it. Providers must receive a minimum sample size of 30 to be awarded a customer score.

Total score

We rank breakdown providers by their total score. Third-party breakdown providers – total score is made up of:

50% customer score,  25% waiting time, 15% fixed at the scene, and 10% knowledge of the mechanic Car manufacturers – total score is made up of 50% customer score, 35% waiting time and 15% knowledge of the mechanic.

Do I even need car breakdown cover?

We found that going for the wrong level of breakdown cover, or going without it completely, can leave you hundreds of pounds worse off in pay-on-use fees and premiums than if you’d had a policy with the right cover to begin with.