How to Deal with Car Trouble in Italian

Sat, 07/19/2014 - 03:00

We recently ran a feature called Renting a Car in Italy, but what do you do if your car breaks down? Here are a few phrases to help you communicate effectively, should you find yourself having car trouble.

Previously we have seen that the Italian word for help is aiuto and the phrase, help me please, translates as mi aiuti, per favore.

Before we look at some phrases, here’s a glossary of car related terms and their translations:

Macchina – Car

Incidente stradale – Traffic accident

Carro attrezzi – Tow truck (breakdown vehicle)

La mia macchina ha subito danni – My car is damaged

Denunciare – To report

Meccanico – Mechanic

Ho forato – I have a puncture

Tergicristallo – Windscreen wiper

Gomma – Tyre

Documenti dell'assicurazione – Insurance documents

An important phrase to know is Qualcosa non va con…  meaning 'There is something wrong with…'; then you can add words such as, i freni, (the brakes), lo sterzo (the steering), i fari (the headlights) and la ruota (the wheel), etc.

When calling a mechanic to let them know your car has broken down, you can say: mi si è fermata la macchina, or ho la macchina in panne, if you require assistance quickly you can add il più presto possibile, meaning as soon as possible.

To report an accident you will need to say C’è stato un incidente,  'There’s been an accident.' Then you can follow the instructions contained in our previous feature: What to Say When Dealing with Emergencies.

If you require roadside assistance for a minor repair, you need say: Ho bisogno del soccorso stradale.

If you are a member of the British assistance services, RAC and AA, you can dial 116 in Italy and speak to someone at the ACI (Automobile Club d’Italia) who are affiliated with the British services and will speak to a regional office on your behalf and arrange assistance.

Other useful phrases you may need are:

Il motore si è surriscaldato - The engine is overheating

Può riparare la macchina? - Can you repair the car?

Quanto tempo occorre? - How long will it take?

Un guasto elettrico - An electrical fault

And finally possibly the most common reason for calling for assistance is:

Sono rimasto senza benzina - I have run out of petrol/gas.