And trying to work out what the problem is on the hard shoulder as lorries scream past is nobody's idea of fun.
Many motorists have therefore concluded that taking out breakdown cover is a better option than leaving their fate in the lap of the gods.
And they could be right. According to the AA, it alone responds to about 20,000 calls for breakdown recovery services every single day during the winter months.
But what different types of cover are available? And what level of cover do you need?
The different types of breakdown cover
There are two different types of breakdown cover to choose from; vehicle and personal. Vehicle cover entitles you to assistance in the event of a specific vehicle breaking down.
Personal cover, on the other hand, means the breakdown service will respond to your call whether you are the driver or a passenger in any vehicle.
Vehicle cover is the cheaper option. However, it may be worth paying more for personal cover if you regularly drive more than one vehicle, for example.
The cheapest and most basic level of breakdown cover is called Roadside and provides you with patrol assistance should you break down at the side of the road.
Cover of this kind can cost just £20 or less a year. However, if your vehicle cannot be repaired by the patrol, it will be towed to a local garage, from where you will start picking up the bill.
National or Recovery cover, on the other hand, includes the services provided above plus transport for you, your passengers and your vehicle to a destination of your choice should a breakdown occur.
And Home start offers the additional service of sending a patrol to your home to make repairs should your van, car or motorbike refuse to start.
Finally, there is Onward Travel, which is the most complete package available and also covers the costs of any unexpected accommodation and car hire required due to a breakdown. However, this level of cover generally costs more than £100 a year.
European breakdown cover
Breaking down while in Europe can be an incredibly expensive and frustrating business. So if you are planning on driving in Europe, you may well be wise to purchase European breakdown cover.
This can generally be bought for a limited length of time – to correspond with your trip – or included as a standard feature lasting for the full 12 months of the policy.
For both this and standard breakdown cover, you can compare prices and the levee of cover offered by different providers using a price comparison website such as MoneySupermarket.