Cars are complex machines, and there are a large amount of reasons why they may break down. Despite this, there are a number of breakdown causes that are more prevalent than others. This guide will outline some of the more common reasons behind car breakdowns, what to do if it happens to you and most importantly, how to avoid it altogether.
A common reason for car breakdowns is due to engines overheating. This could happen for a number of reasons, including stuck thermostats, a faulty or leaking fan or cooling system or from a clogged radiator. If your car breaks down due to overheating, make sure you do not open your radiator cap or you could be severely burned. Overheating can cause a great deal of damage to your vehicle, so it is important to make sure that you take steps to avoid it.
If this happens to you: If your car breaks down due to overheating do not open the hood of your car until your vehicle has cooled down dramatically. Calling roadside assistance is much easier and safer than attempting to fix your vehicle yourself.
How to avoid it: Make sure that you regularly check your engine coolant and ensure that the system is free from any damage or leaks. Keep an eye on engine temperature when driving long journeys, and stop if the engine begins to get to hot. If you notice that your vehicle reaches a particularly high temperature regularly, go to a service station.
Another common reason for breakdown is from flat tyres. Sometimes this can be due to gradual decay and wear on the tyres, or from more severe impacts like running into something or over something sharp.
If this happens to you: If you have a spare tyre, you could try to change the tyre manually. If not, you will most likely have to call your breakdown service for assistance.
How to avoid it: Careful driving is the only way to really prevent tyre damage in the short term, but drivers should make sure to keep an eye out for any screws, nails or other debris on the road which could cause damage. Checking tyre tread, condition and pressure should be a weekly thing to make sure that your tyres stay in prime condition. Regular checks will help you realise quickly if there is a problem with the tyres, and you should be able to fix it before it becomes an issue. Consider keeping a spare tyre and vehicle jack in your car so that you can fix flat tyres yourself.
A flat battery is one of the most common reasons why breakdown assistance is called. There are a number of reasons why batteries fail. There could be bad cells in the battery left over from it being poorly charged or dead, the battery could be corroded, or lights or radio may have been left on when the car wasn’t running.
If this happens to you: If you have a jump lead and someone willing to donate some battery juice, you can use them to try and restart your battery. Otherwise you will most likely have to call your breakdown service.
How to avoid it: Every time you service your vehicle make sure that you check that your battery is protected from corrosion by applying a layer of grease or petroleum grease. Also make sure that your connections and clamps are all secure. If you rarely use your vehicle for long journeys you could also consider giving your car an overnight charge in order to prolong battery problems and decrease risk of battery failure. Try to keep a jump lead in your car in case of emergencies.
Fuel related issues cause drivers to break down more often than you would expect. Whether through drivers putting the wrong fuel in their cars, or not having enough fuel, these fuel problems are a common reason for breakdown. The AA claims that over 150,000 motorists put the wrong fuel in their car, with the most common issue being drivers putting petrol in diesel cars.
If this happens to you: Fuel Fix offer a 24hr roadside removal service if drivers suffer a fuel-related breakdown. They can drain, flush and refuel your vehicle. If you have a jerry can in your car then you could try and find somewhere to fill it if your car runs out of petrol but in most cases, calling assistance will be the easiest solution.
How to avoid it: Take care when refuelling your car and check your car log and information papers if you aren’t sure what fuel your car takes. If you realise that you have put the wrong fuel in your car then pull to the side of the road and don’t drive any further. Before taking long journeys, make sure you have enough fuel or time your fuel stops so that you are prepared for any top ups you may need.