RAC patrols reveal their most unusual call-outs

Article date: 8 January 2007

From trapped animals to distressed celebrities, on one of the year’s busiest days for vehicle breakdowns, new RAC research* reveals the most unusual call-outs patrols respond to.

The research canvassed the opinions of RAC patrols to gain a better understanding of why vehicles breakdown. While basic car maintenance problems, such as punctured tyres and flat batteries are the most common reasons for breakdowns, the research also revealed some far more bizarre reasons for call-outs.

High up on the list are the many hundreds of animal related breakdowns received by RAC patrols. From an owl on a car dashboard to an alligator in the back seat, patrols are well versed in coming to the rescue of pets as well as people. One patrol even ferried a pedigree pooch and his owner to Crufts after an untimely breakdown.

As well as pampered pooches, pampered people also feature on RAC unusual call-outs, with some four in 10 RAC patrols responding to calls from stranded celebrities.

RAC Top Ten most unusual call-outs

  1. A motorist complaining of a strange noise coming from under his car was surprised to find the cause was a grumpy badger trapped between the exhaust and the car body.
  2. An RAC member’s pet snake escaped in transit and got caught under the car dashboard, resulting in the patrol having to dismantle the dashboard to release the reptile. 
  3. After leaving the handbrake off, an RAC member was horrified to discover his car had rolled down the drive, over a patio wall, through a set of french windows and into his living room.
  4. A patrol called out to check a car’s air intake pipe was baffled to find it was stuffed with nuts. The culprit turned out to be a squirrel that the car owner had often seen stealing from his bird table, although he never guessed where it had been storing its spoils.
  5. An RAC patrol got more than he bargained for when called out to attend a motorbike breakdown and found that it was sitting four feet deep in the Thames at Richmond bridge. Miraculously, once the engine was dried out, the member was able to drive away on it.
  6. A mystery electrical failure in an estate car was explained when the eleven year old who had been left in the back seat revealed he had removed every fuse in the fusebox and hidden them in his pockets.
  7. RAC saved the day at one wedding, as the bride and groom found they had locked their keys inside the car, along with their wedding rings.
  8. Smoke coming from a motorist’s dashboard turned out to be the fault of his four year old son, who had "posted" £24 worth of coins from his Dad’s coin holder into the cassette slot.
  9. An RAC patrol was called out to rescue a mother after her toddler swallowed the car’s immobiliser chip. The RAC patrol managed to get the car started again by holding the infant over the steering wheel.
  10. When an RAC member got out of her car, leaving the keys on the seat, her dog jumped on them, locking the door. Just as the patrol was about to gain entry, the dog jumped off the keys, letting itself out of the car.

Prakesh Patel RAC Patrol commented: “RAC patrols respond to more than 2.5 million roadside assistance call-outs every year, and by surveying our patrols who are on the roads responding to breakdowns, this research gives us really rich insights into how, when and why vehicles break down. Most are caused by technology malfunctions, burst tyres and flat batteries, however we also encounter some very unusual and totally unpredictable breakdowns. Nevertheless be it rescuing trapped animals or simply fixing a puncture, RAC patrols can be relied on to come to the rescue of members in any sticky situation.”

The research also suggests that Monday 8 January will be one of the busiest days of the year for RAC patrols. Call-out data pinpoints 8.34am on Monday 8 January as a peak time for vehicle breakdowns with roads named "High Street", "North Street" and "Church Street" identified as the most common locations for breakdowns.

To highlight the work of RAC patrols, a new advertising campaign featuring Vinnie Jones shows the star being rescued by an RAC Patrol after his car breaks down on the way to a party. The RAC to the Rescue advertising campaign airs on TV screens from January 2007.


RAC Press office contact:
Jon Day on 01603 209287/07800 690555 or Sonia Clarke on 0207 908 6570 or Iain Drennan on 0207 908 6449

Notes to editors:

* An in-depth survey was completed by 400 RAC patrols between 20 and 31 October 2006.

The results were compiled by The Survey Shop between 6 and 14 November 2006.

Internal data and statistics have been supplied by RAC MI.

About RAC
With around seven million members, RAC is one of the UK's most progressive motoring organizations, providing services for both private and business motorists. Whether it's roadside assistance, windscreen repair and replacement, learning to drive, vehicle inspections and checks, legal and financial services or up-to-the-minute traffic and travel information - RAC is able to meet motorists’ needs. RAC incorporates BSM, RAC Auto Windscreens, RAC Direct Insurance and HPI.

Aviva bought RAC in May 2005. The acquisition brings together RAC's powerful brand and customer base with the expertise and leading position in motor insurance of Norwich Union Insurance (part of Aviva). Norwich Union is the UK's largest insurer, insuring one in seven motor vehicles and with a market share of around 15%.

RAC's news releases and a selection of images are available from the internet press centre at www.racnews.co.uk.

Back to top