Car Breakdown: Top Causes
It’s likely that most of us will experience a motor breakdown at least once in our driving career, often more. But what are the most common reasons for car breakdown and are there any preventative measures we can take to do our best to avoid them?
The four most common car breakdown causes are:
1.) Battery fault or a flat battery
A flat or faulty battery is undoubtedly the most common of reasons, making up around 20% of all breakdown calls. What many people don’t know is that batteries actually recharge by being in use! So in most instances of a flat battery, it can be because your journeys are consistently short and the battery does not have enough time to charge – weird, right? Taking short journeys in the cold weather, coupled with headlights, can also kill a battery that may already have been weak. If long journeys are just not something you’ll be doing, consider taking your car for a longer run at the weekend, or perhaps charging your battery overnight every two weeks using a plug-in battery charger. Poor electrical connection to the battery can also result in a flat, but unfortunately there is little you can do to avoid that, so just keep an eye on your dashboard warning lights and pay attention to the vehicle performance as a rule. Car batteries don’t last forever so it will have to be replaced at some point. With a bit of luck, regular servicing and MOT checks should catch a low battery charge before it leaves you stranded.
2.) Lost keys
While it might be less likely to lock your keys in the car these days, it’s still not impossible and the instance of people driving away without their car keys (due to microchipped keys activating the car remotely) is more common than you’d think. Consider keeping a spare key somewhere safe at home and try to habitually check where your car keys are when you go to start the engine.
3.) Flat or damaged tyres
A high percentage of breakdowns are the result of flat tyres or punctures coming from unseen potholes and road surface damage. These are difficult to avoid but normally easy to repair. The other commonly seen problem is poorly maintained tyres, something which we can all keep an eye on. Try to have your car serviced regularly: the garage should do a comprehensive review of your tyres (including the spare) and in the interim you should keep an eye on your tyre tread, tread depth and whether the tyre wear is even or not, which might indicate some misalignment. In any of these instances, take the car in and have tyres reviewed by your local garage. It’s also worth bearing in mind that there are legal limits for safe tyre tread which can lead to penalty points if you’re not careful.
4.) Fuel issues
We all hope that we’d never make that mistake but a significant number of us put the wrong fuel into our cars each year (the AA reports 150,000 drivers per year on average). If it happens to you, the best thing you can do is to keep your engine switched off, stay where you are and call a recovery company (most garage forecourts will have services advertised). If you attempt to start and drive the car, it can do damage to the vehicle and will be more difficult and much more expensive to fix.
Other less common causes of breakdown are:
A functioning alternator is essential to allow the battery to charge properly so if you experience dim headlights, persistent battery issues, or if the engine shows an alternator fault, take your vehicle into the garage immediately.
Spark plug faults
Unfortunately this is not something you can prevent yourself but if you have your car regularly serviced, they should pick up any potential issues.
High Tension Cables
Any deterioration to these cables can affect performance of the car, again, something a regular service will pick up on.
On the whole a starter motor is very robust but they do fail at times. Any potential fault should be detected in your regular service.
Abbey Insurance Brokers
Whatever your driving needs, make sure you are covered with Car Insurance from Abbey. We also provide Breakdown Cover, meaning you’ll never be stuck by the side of the road! Contact us to discuss the best insurance available, our team are available at 08000 66 55 44 or request a callback.