The RAC can now fix some breakdowns without calling out a patrol van, after the organisation announced a new smartphone video service that helps it diagnose faults more quickly.

If one of the breakdown company’s call handlers receives a fault they believe could be fixed remotely, they will send the member a link that allows the RAC to see the car through the smartphone’s lens. They will then be able to instruct the driver which parts of the car should be filmed to make a diagnosis of the fault.

Tyre Pressure Warning Light

For instance, the RAC says the system, dubbed the Remote Technician, is very useful for diagnosing warning lights that crop up on the dashboard. With the amount of relatively new technology in modern vehicles, the organisation says some owners can struggle to describe the lights that have appeared, so visual verification is needed.

Should the fault prove to be minor, the call handler can then give the member the guidance needed to fix the vehicle themselves. For example, a call handler could tell a member how to free up a sticking door catch or whether a puncture can be fixed using the car’s tyre repair kit.

RAC recovery van cold weather

If, on the other hand, the problem is more serious and requires a patrol van, the Remote Technician can help call handlers decide what sort of equipment a patrol will need and the kind of vehicle that should be called out. If it is unlikely that a vehicle can be fixed at the roadside, a low-loader may be required to take the vehicle to a garage.

Businessman use smartphone when broken car on the road

It’s the latest in a line of developments introduced by the breakdown assistance firm, which in the past few weeks has revealed a new folding trailer allowing vans to recover vehicles that can’t be towed, as well as an emergency electric car charging system that gives stranded vehicles the electrical equivalent of a splash-and-dash fill to take them to the nearest charger.

Man stands next to disabled car on motorway

RAC head of technical James Gibson said: “We have been fixing vehicles over the phone for many years, but the popularity and functionality of smartphones has given us the opportunity to fix even more issues without the need for customers having to wait for a patrol to attend simply because we can see the vehicle and the problem for ourselves.

“The more vehicles we can fix remotely, the better it is for everyone – the customer affected and our other members as it helps to speed up the time it takes for us to reach anyone in a breakdown situation.”