Breakdowns always seem to happen at the most inconvenient times. It doesn’t matter whether your car is used or new, they are all prone to it. It’s a good idea, therefore, to be aware of all the common things that can cause breakdowns and the remedies to deal with them so you don’t have to panic too much when they happen. (And they happen to all of us sooner or later, believe me). With that in mind, here are some of the most frequent reasons for breakdowns, with tips on how to prevent them in the first place or deal with them when they happen:
- Flat Tyre: It has been estimated that damage to tyres probably accounts for around 10 per cent of all emergency call-outs. Whilst nobody can always avoid getting flat tyres (you can’t see nails in the road, for example) there are things you can do to keep your tyres in as good a condition as possible so they’re less susceptible to damage. Check the tread and pressure on a regular basis, and look out for any abnormal patches of wear that could indicate a problem with suspension or something else. If you do get a flat, then the best thing to do is call out some mobile tyre fitters. They may even be able to repair the tyre for you, or if not they can replace it there and then.
- Dead Battery: This is another common reason for a breakdown, and is often caused by loss of voltage owing to short journeys. One way to prevent this happening is to go on a longer journey at least once a week. And of course, check your battery regularly, particularly in the winter months when it can run down more quickly. If you have a set of jump leads and another car will stop to help you then you can sometimes get your car started on your own. If not, the best thing to do is call for roadside assistance to get you moving again.
- Electrical Faults: This is an increasing reason for breakdowns as cars come to rely more and more on complex electrical circuits for many of their functions. Unfortunately, once a breakdown actually occurs because of an electrical fault there is generally little you can do about it yourself (it’s best not to go fiddling around with the electrics unless you really know what you’re doing). The only way you can try to prevent things getting to this point is by taking your car to a garage as soon as the first signs of a problem start to show themselves (as opposed to waiting until it fails completely).
- Keys Lost: Yes, this is still a problem: a significant proportion of emergency call-outs are because keys have been stolen, lost or locked inside the car. In fact, the amount has risen slightly because nowadays people are also calling out emergency services if their remote key fob has stopped working. You can still get into the car but you won’t be able to drive off in the latter scenario, so it’s a good idea to keep a key fob battery in the glove box.
- Out Of Fuel: We’ve all done it: seen that the fuel gauge is low but said to ourselves ‘I’m sure I can make it to the next garage’. This might work sometimes, but if you keep doing it then sooner or later you are going to run out before you get there. Bear in mind that some vehicle fuel gauges are not entirely accurate and fluctuating fuel prices can fool you into thinking you’ve put in more than you actually have. Another fuel-related problem that accounts for a fairly high percentage of emergency call-outs is people putting in the wrong kind of fuel. Easily done if it’s a new car of you aren’t paying attention and pick up the wrong nozzle at the petrol pump.
- Overheated Engine: Engine overheating can be down to several things, including: a stuck thermostat, a leak in the vehicle’s cooling system, a faulty water pump or cooling fan or a clogged radiator. Unless you’re mechanically minded, most of these problems need to be fixed by a professional or you may run into even worse problems further down the line.