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Breakdown warning over holiday hire cars

Survey reveals many don't provide emergency number


British tourists could be left stranded if they break down in their hire cars in Europe, an AA survey revealed today.

More than a third of car hire companies surveyed in Mediterranean countries failed to provide a breakdown number to call in emergencies.

And more than half of the firms did not supply manuals to explain car basics such as jacking positions.

Carried out for the AA by the Eurotest organisation, the survey looked at 57 car hire companies in Turkey, Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal.

Emergency equipment

Around three quarters of the companies did not carry emergency equipment to fully meet their country’s legal requirements.

Five out of the 11 Greek companies surveyed supplied no breakdown number and none of the Greek cars had the required first aid kits or breakdown warning triangles.

Portugal was the country with the best results, with only one of the six cars hired not having a breakdown number and almost all being fully equipped with necessary items.

Breakdown number

AA Public Affairs head Paul Watters said: ‘Holidaymakers must accept that a hire car, like any other, may experience a problem. But it probably doesn’t even cross their minds that rental firms could abandon them without an emergency number, or not provide them with the essential legal equipment.’

He went on: ‘With cars not being equipped to the correct national legal standard, UK tourists are left vulnerable to the whims of the local police.

‘We can understand that some hire cars lose equipment through theft by customers, but the high level of missing kit indicates a more widespread problem with rental operators.

‘Operators should find ways to ensure this equipment is always in their vehicles, but customers must also take more responsibility and caution.’

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