15 October 2020 | See disclaimer

New survey reveals why Australians experience vehicle breakdowns, the number of times roadside assistance has been used to cover a breakdown and their overall understanding of roadside assistance cover.

Quick stats

  • The survey found that 84% of Australians with roadside assistance, have previously experienced a breakdown or vehicle malfunction when using their car.
  • Out of this number, flat batteries are the most common reason for vehicle breakdowns.
  • More than half of the Australian drivers surveyed, who have roadside assistance, have made use of their cover in the past two years.

In April 2020 Budget Direct surveyed 998 Australian adults addressing a series of questions about roadside assistance cover.

Here’s what they told us:

When was the last time you experienced a breakdown or vehicle malfunction when using your car?

One in three Australians surveyed with roadside assistance have experienced a car breakdown or vehicle malfunction in the past 12 months.

More drivers in Queensland have experienced a car breakdown or vehicle malfunction than drivers in Western Australia, Victoria and New South Wales.

While older Australians were more likely to have experienced a vehicle breakdown or malfunction, younger Australians have had this experience in the last 12 months.

Male drivers were more likely than female drivers to have experienced a car breakdown or vehicle malfunction. It’s important to note that 17% of these male drivers have had this experience in the last 3 months.

What was the main reason for your most recent vehicle breakdown or malfunction?

Four in ten of those drivers surveyed with roadside assistance have experienced a vehicle breakdown caused by a flat battery. Other common reasons included electrical malfunction (16%), flat tyres (14%) and an overheating car/problem with the radiator (12%).

42% of drivers from Queensland have had a vehicle breakdown/malfunction because of a flat battery. While 19% of drivers from Victoria and 15% of drivers from Sydney are more likely to have a vehicle breakdown because of a flat tyre.

Older Australians are more likely than younger Australians to have a vehicle breakdown because of a flat battery. While younger Australians have their vehicles breakdown due to an overheated car/radiator.

It’s important to note that amongst millennials the cause of their vehicle breakdown was due to 15% having locked their keys in the car, 8% having misplaced their keys and 7% having run out of petrol.

How many times have you used your roadside assistance cover in the last two years?

63% of Australian drivers surveyed that have roadside assistance have used this cover in the last two years. Research points to the coverage being used once every two years, with one in ten Australians indicating that they’ve used it more than three times in the past two years.

68% of Sydney drivers have used roadside assistance in the past two years and 15% of drivers in NSW have also used the service three or more times.

71% Gen X drivers and 72% of drivers with children under 18 at home have used roadside assistance in the past 2 years.

68% of male drivers have used their roadside assistance more than 60% of female drivers in the last two years.

What preparations have been done before going on a road trip?

95% of Australian drivers surveyed with roadside assistance prepare and follow a road trip checklist before going on a road trip.

In preparation for a road trip Australians will fill up their car with petrol, complete routine checks; air pressure, engine oil and top ups if needed. Less than half of those drivers surveyed also took the extra step and checked the windscreen washer fluid, water and antifreeze in the radiator.

Alarmingly less than half of Australians surveyed have their car serviced prior to a road trip. Research also suggests that many Australians neglect to have their brakes tested, check their car seats are installed properly and whether their car battery has a good level of charge.

74% of Queensland drivers check the air pressure in their tyres, 59% of those drivers check the engine oil and 50% of drivers check the water/antifreeze in the radiator.

Of surveyed drivers in Queensland 90% of them are more likely to have experienced a breakdown/vehicle malfunction than 74% of drivers in WA, 82% in Victoria and 83% in NSW.

52% of Baby boomers surveyed will have their car serviced prior to a road trip.

What does your roadside assistance cover you for?

Of the drivers surveyed, 87% are most likely to say that roadside assistance covers battery assistance, 84% for a tyre change or flat tyre assistance and 82% of drivers say it’s for breakdown towing in metro areas (10-15km).

35% of Australians surveyed are unsure about coverage and say that their roadside assistance doesn’t cover breakdown towing in rural areas (50-100km+).

This was the same for 38% of people who thought that they weren’t covered for key rescue, 39% for emergency fuel, 41% for unlimited callouts and 38% of drivers who are unsure and say that their roadside assistance doesn’t include a technical advice hotline.

Of the less common types of cover, 69% of Queensland drivers say they are covered for emergency fuel, 73% of South Australian drivers say they are covered for breakdown towing in rural areas (50-100km+) and 74% of Western Australian drivers say they are covered for key rescue and 71% for unlimited callouts.

While 61% of Sydney drivers don’t think that they have coverage for breakdown towing in rural areas (50-100km+) and 52% for emergency fuel; 48% of Victorian drivers are least likely to say that they’re covered for unlimited callouts.

No matter what state you live in, it’s important to know when roadside assistance can help you.

Contact details

For more information, including how to cite this information, please contact:

Yacine Khouzami
(07) 3327 8412
[email protected]

Disclaimer: This survey was conducted by YouGov Surveys on behalf of Budget Direct in April 2020. All figures are from this research unless stated otherwise. The survey was conducted online with a total sample size of 998 weighted and representative of Australian adults (aged 18+).