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17 September 2021

RAC breakdown cover review

The RAC is one of the UK's biggest car breakdown services, but is it one of the best? Find out how more than 1,000 RAC customers rated it compared with other leading breakdown cover providers
JS
Joe Sharp
Best breakdown cover_ 442530

The RAC started out as the Automobile Club of Great Britain in 1887. After receiving royal approval from Edward VII in 1907, it became the Royal Automobile Club. It first introduced uniformed patrols in 1901 and roadside emergency telephones in 1912.

Known today simply as the RAC, it is one of the UK's largest breakdown providers. It covers millions of members across the UK as well as offering car, home and travel insurance. 

All RAC patrol vans include a retractable trailer and the RAC Scan+, mobile diagnostic equipment that it says can help quickly identify the fault that caused the breakdown.

But the RAC is also one of the most expensive car breakdown providers we analysed. Read on to find out whether its customers think the service is worth the price.


Find out more about how to buy the best breakdown cover.


To unlock our results in the table below and reveal our full analysis, you can join Which?. You'll also get access to all of our online reviews, including our expert, independent new and used car reviews. 

Already a Which? member? Log in to see our results.

RAC breakdown cover scores

Which? rating
Score

Total score
Total score rank (out of 12)
Customer score
Customer score rank (out of 12)
Arrived within an hour
Repaired at the roadside
Value for Money
Knowledge of the mechanic
Courtesy of the mechanic
Helpfulness on the phone

All ratings based on responses from the 2021 Which? Car Survey (in field from April 2021 to June 2021). Breakdown cover feedback gathered from 8,430 respondents, all of whom said they had called out a breakdown service in the 12 months prior to answering the survey. RAC Customer score sample size: 1,415.

RAC breakdown cover levels

Our table, below, shows you a summary of the main benefits offered by RAC UK breakdown policies.

Policy name:
Standard
Advanced
Ultimate
Service provided by
RAC
RAC
RAC
Roadside assistance included
Yes
Yes
Yes
At-home assistance included
Yes
Yes
Yes
Nationwide recovery included
No
Yes
Yes
Maximum number of callouts per year
3
Unlimited
Unlimited
Parts and labour covered for repairs
Labour only
Labour only
Labour only
Towing distance limit
10 miles
Unlimited
Unlimited
European cover
Optional extra
Optional extra
Optional extra
Onward travel included
Yes
Yes
Yes

Table last updated in September 2021.  

Additional features

  • Key replacement cover can be added to a policy as an optional extra for an additional premium
  • Battery replacement cover can be added to a policy as an optional extra for an additional premium
  • Tyre replacement cover can be added to a policy as an optional extra for an additional premium
  • If you put the wrong fuel in your car, you will have to pay an additional fee - it's £224.99 if you are an RAC member, and £274.99 if you are not
  • MyRAC app
  • If you're travelling with pets when you breakdown, the RAC will still attend your vehicle. If, for any reason, the recovery operator is unable to transport them within a patrol or recovery vehicle, they will assist in trying to find alternative transport for your pets.

How much does RAC breakdown cover cost?

Policy name:
Standard
Advanced
Ultimate
New customer price (per year):
£95
£150
£190
Excess:
No excess
No excess
No excess
Auto renewal - opt-out necessary:
Yes
Yes
Yes

Price collected in July 2021 and is representative of a retired 61-year-old man living in Brighton, with a Ford Fiesta 5-dr hatchback, with a 1.0 Ford EcoBoost 125PS (92kW) petrol engine, Titanium trim, registered as new 1 Jan 2020.

These prices are for vehicle-specific cover. You can also buy these policies as personal cover - this will cover you if any car you are travelling in breaks down, though it is likely to cost a little more.

RAC breakdown cover can be purchased online or over the phone direct form the RAC. It is not available on price comparison websites.

To avoid unnecessary costs, read our guide to buying the best breakdown cover.

RAC breakdown cover: pros and cons

Pros

  • RAC's cover stands out for including at-home assistance, garage support and onward as standard with all policies. Most breakdown cover providers don't include at-home assistance in their lowest tier of cover. 
  • Unlimited callouts under Advanced and Ultimate policies, which also allow car to be towed anywhere in the UK. These policies also supply a hire car if needed (two days for Advanced, seven days for Ultimate) while your car is being repaired.

Cons

  • One of the most expensive breakdown cover providers in our analysis
  • No hire car supplied under Standard policy while car is in for repairs
  • Three-callout and ten-mile limit on vehicle repairs under Standard policy. 

Does the RAC provide European breakdown cover?

The RAC offers single trip and annual European breakdown cover with its Comprehensive and Comprehensive Plus policies.

Comprehensive cover offers recovery to a garage and, if your vehicle can't be fixed, the cost of recovery back to the UK. This is up the market value of the vehicle if repairs cannot be completed before your departure date, up to £150 towards garage labour costs and a hire car for up to six days or overnight accommodation up to a value of £500, if repairs can't be completed within six hours.

Comprehensive Plus offers recovery to a garage and all costs of recovery back to the UK if a vehicle can't be fixed, if repairs cannot be completed before departure date, up to £1,000 towards garage labour costs and a hire car for up to 23 days and overnight accommodation up to a value of £1,200, if repairs can't be completed within six hours.

European breakdown cover must have been arranged before leaving the UK. However, the RAC can still offer assistance on a pay-on-use basis wherever possible.

If you breakdown while driving in Europe, you will need to call one of the following numbers:

  • Republic of Ireland - 1 800 535005
  • France and Monaco - 0800 942044
  • Rest of Europe - 0033 472 435244

For expert advice on Covid guidelines, vaccine passports and post Brexit rules read our guide to travelling abroad.

Does the RAC provide motorcycle, van or company car cover?

The RAC offers breakdown cover for motorcycles, vans, company cars and electric vehicles.

For more information, visit the RAC website.

How do I contact the RAC?

If you are unfortunate enough to have broken down, you can call the RAC for assistance on 0333 2000 999.

You can also report a breakdown by email or by using the MyRAC app, which you can also use to track the progress of the breakdown patrol vehicle on your mobile phone. You don't need to have the app installed to do this, though. On reporting a breakdown, RAC customers will be sent an SMS link to open to track their breakdown mechanic.

However, the MyRAC app does also allow you to manage your RAC membership, plan a route, get real-time traffic and roadworks updates and set reminders for your MOTs, services, road tax and car insurance.

How do I cancel my RAC breakdown cover?

If you wish to cancel your RAC breakdown cover or membership, you will need to contact RAC Customer Services on 0330 159 0739.

No cancellation fee applies for monthly continuous or annual policy holders.

If you cancel your policy within 14 days of taking it out, you will receive a full refund of your premium - although the RAC may retain any administration fee or a portion of it. If you have made a claim, you will not receive any refund of your premium or administration fee.

If you cancel after 14 days and have paid annually for your RAC breakdown cover, you will be offered a pro rata refund based on the remaining term of the policy - as long as you haven't made a claim during the policy period.

While you cannot put your RAC breakdown policy on hold if, for instance, you buy a new car and subsequently receive free breakdown from the manufacturer, you can switch to the Membership Only product to retain your tenure and access to all other RAC membership benefits.

Find out how RAC customers rate it for car insurance, home insurance and travel insurance.