Car breakdown assistance in Switzerland

Kamilya - February 21, 2024

If your car breaks down, it's more than just annoying. It can even be really dangerous. Now you have to react correctly so that you can get your car away from the hard shoulder or the side of the road quickly and reach your destination safely. Breakdown services such as those from the Touring Club Switzerland (TCS) or the Automobile Club of Switzerland (ACS) can help you with this. They provide starting assistance, help with breakdowns on the road and tow your vehicle to the garage if necessary. At CARIFY, we know that engine defects or problems with the brakes can happen at any time while driving. With our checklist, you'll be prepared for breakdown situations and won't panic.

Have you broken down? You should do this now:

The engine is making strange noises, the steering is shuddering or the brakes aren't engaging properly - if your vehicle doesn't sound or react the way you're used to, you may have broken down. Older cars in particular, whose wearing parts are already getting on in years, often cause problems. Then you need to keep calm and do the right thing. Our checklist will help you react calmly.

Car breakdown checklist:

Switch on hazard warning lights: A breakdown situation does not put you and other road users in danger. Use the hazard warning lights to draw attention to the problem.

  • Look for a parking space: Maneuver your car to a safe parking space. On freeways, it is best to use the emergency lane if there is no rest area nearby. On country roads, you usually only have the edge of the road - as far to the right as possible. Turn the steering wheel to the right to prevent the vehicle from rolling onto the road.

  • Switch on the parking lights: This will make you more visible, and not just in the dark or in bad weather.

  • Switch off the engine and apply the handbrake: Once the car is safely stationary, you must ensure that it cannot start rolling.

  • Open the trunk: There is almost always a reflective vest and breakdown triangle in the boot of the car. Put on the reflective vest and secure the danger zone to the rear by setting up the breakdown triangle. In populated areas, you should place it 50 meters away from the car, in unpopulated areas it should be 100 meters away, with a distance of around 70 centimeters from the edge of the road.

  • Get to safety: You and your passengers get out of the vehicle on the passenger side and go to a safe place nearby.

Call the roadside assistance hotline

Once the occupants and vehicle have been secured, call the breakdown service. You can use your cell phone or emergency call boxes, which are located at regular intervals along freeways. If you have taken out roadside assistance through an automobile club or a protection package, you should have the emergency number to hand. It's best to have it in your car and/or wallet and saved in your cell phone. Ideally, you should also write down your membership number and make the call yourself. With appropriate insurance, breakdown assistance and, if necessary, towing are free of charge for you. Otherwise you will have to pay for the service later.

Provide location information

The breakdown service needs some information from you:

  • Your license plate number

  • Brand, color and model of your car

  • Breakdown location: town or location, name of the street, house number or mileage on the highway

  • Your telephone number for callbacks

  • Breakdown type or problem

General information about breakdown assistance in Switzerland

In the event of a breakdown, nobody has to worry that no help will come. The services are available around the clock, seven days a week. The most convenient way to deal with an exceptional situation is if you have taken out insurance, a breakdown cover or a breakdown assistance service through an automobile club. Incidentally, new cars often come with breakdown assistance from the manufacturer for a limited period of time.

Automobile clubs like TCS roadside assistance help

Automobile clubs offer their members free breakdown assistance. Depending on the conditions, this also applies in the event of accidents or theft and includes the costs of towing, recovery and a replacement car. If it is not possible to continue the journey, overnight accommodation costs are covered. In most cases, the service covers Switzerland, but also other European countries if a cover letter is purchased.

Breakdown service also for rental cars

The rental vehicle documents contain information on who you should inform in the event of a breakdown. The contact details of the breakdown service can sometimes be found on a sticker on the inside of the windshield. The breakdown service is often included in the service. You then submit the invoice for towing to the rental car company. If you pay in advance, you will be refunded the amount advanced. But be careful: some car rental companies have clauses in their terms and conditions that exclude the assumption of costs in the event of engine damage (the most common cause of breakdowns). Sometimes the free breakdown service is only available if you take out premium insurance without an excess.

What you should never do if your rental car breaks down is simply call a breakdown service or have it towed away by helpful road users. You will then be stuck with the costs for the breakdown assistance and any damage caused.

Coordination with vehicle insurance

Some companies offer vehicle insurance that includes breakdown assistance in addition to liability and comprehensive insurance. This is usually cheaper than additional membership of a car club or taking out a letter of protection. However, you should be careful with the scope of the insured benefits: Do they really cover you comprehensively for all costs? In any case, you must coordinate further action with the vehicle insurance company in the event of a breakdown. If you act on your own authority, the insurance company may refuse to cover the costs of individual services. This also applies if you have taken out additional breakdown assistance.

How much does roadside assistance cost in Switzerland?

Parking offenders can tell you that towing is expensive. Even roadside assistance is not free. But is it worth taking out insurance just for this reason? After all, membership of a car club costs over CHF 80 a year, and how often do you need roadside assistance? The more years your vehicle has been on the road, the more often you have to expect breakdowns. With new vehicles, on the other hand, breakdowns are quite rare and are usually covered by the manufacturer's warranty.

These three Swiss car clubs currently offer their members free breakdown assistance:

  • Automobile Club of Switzerland (ACS)

  • Touring Club Switzerland (TCS)

  • Swiss Transport Club (VCS)

Car insurers also charge around CHF 75 for the service - if it is not part of the comprehensive or third-party liability insurance.

Let's take a look at the costs you can expect in the event of a breakdown:

Costs and charges for breakdown assistance

  • Towing: Depending on the distance and region, you should expect to pay between CHF 200 and CHF 500.

  • Vehicle recovery: Around CHF 500 is incurred for the recovery of combustion vehicles; these costs are CHF 1,000 to 1,500 higher for electric vehicles.

  • Parking fees: A few hundred francs may be due for parking the broken-down vehicle.

  • Vehicle repatriation: As with towing, the price for the return transportation of the defective vehicle depends on the distance and costs several hundred francs.

  • Accommodation and meals: If it is not possible to continue the journey on the same day, you will incur costs for board and lodging - for all vehicle occupants.

  • Transportation: To get all vehicle occupants from the breakdown location back home or to accommodation, costs of around CHF 60 for individuals and CHF 90 for couples or families will be incurred.

  • Replacement/rental car: If the car repair takes longer, you may need a replacement car. Depending on the rental period, you may also have to pay several hundred francs for this.

  • Advance on costs for repairs abroad: If the accident took place abroad, the garage will probably ask you to pay the costs in advance. This can also be quite expensive.

And that's just the cost of roadside assistance, not including spare parts and repairs. Not all of these items are due for every breakdown, but roadside assistance is worth it for towing alone.

Car breakdown assistance tips and tricks

You can do a lot yourself to ensure that you break down as rarely as possible. Because even with the best roadside assistance, a breakdown is annoying to say the least. It can even ruin your vacation or cause appointments to fall through. It's better not to get into such a dangerous situation in the first place.

Precautionary measures to avoid breakdowns

By regularly servicing and inspecting your vehicle, you can detect defects (e.g. in the clutch and brakes) in good time before they become a problem. This includes checking the operating fluids. You should give your car a new battery at least every four to six years. In winter, it helps to charge the battery occasionally. Pay attention to the warning lights on the dashboard and have the vehicle checked in the garage if necessary.

Important before long journeys or when heavily loaded: Is the tire pressure correct? Have you fitted the right tires for the season? Summer tires are only used from Easter to October. You are also responsible for ensuring that your tires have sufficient tread depth. If a tire bursts due to excessive wear and tear, you may have to pay for the breakdown service yourself, despite having a breakdown cover.

Always fill up with the fuel mixture recommended for the vehicle and keep an eye on the fuel gauge so that you can refuel in good time. By attending a breakdown course, you will receive tips on how to rectify common causes of breakdowns yourself.

Important items for the car breakdown kit

If you have the following items in your car, you can face breakdown situations with confidence:

  • Warning triangle

  • Reflective safety vest

  • Wheel cross

  • Jack

  • Spare tire

  • Breakdown spray

  • Car tool kit

  • Jumper cables

  • Tow rope

  • First aid kit

  • Flashlight

  • Protective gloves

  • Reserve oil

Roadside assistance with the CARIFY car subscription

If you take out a car subscription with CARIFY, you can take advantage of Zurich Insurance's 24/7 roadside assistance in the event of breakdowns and accidents. Immediate assistance or towing to the nearest garage for your make of car are included. CARIFY must be informed before repairs can begin there.

Comprehensive services for your mobility

Fortunately, breakdowns with our subscription cars really are the exception, because we only give you new or as-new cars in perfect technical condition. Our all-round service includes (seasonal) tire changes and regular inspections and maintenance. This costs you nothing extra, and we even take care of the organization.


With the right equipment and a number for roadside assistance, you'll be on the safe side if your car breaks down. With our checklist, you'll do everything right and won't put anyone in danger. Then you can wait for help with complete peace of mind.


What do you do if the car breaks down?

Switch on the hazard warning lights, park the vehicle off the road and secure the danger zone. Then call roadside assistance.

Who do I call if my car breaks down?

The breakdown service I am a member of/insured with.

What should I do if my car breaks down in Switzerland?

Even if you don't have a breakdown cover, TCS roadside assistance in Switzerland will help you on 0800 140 140.

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