Car breakdowns can be a driver’s biggest nightmare, particularly when they occur unexpectedly. Consider yourself stuck on the side of the road with a non-operational car and unaware of what went wrong. While these scenarios might be frustrating, the good thing is that many issues can be avoided with a little knowledge and preventive maintenance.
This blog post will go through the 10 common causes of car breakdowns and equip you with the necessary knowledge to avoid these problems.
Faulty or Flat Batteries
A dead or malfunctioning battery is perhaps the most frequent reason for a breakdown, particularly in the winter. You can avoid this by charging your vehicle’s battery for a full night every two weeks.
A faulty or dead battery can also be caused by poor wiring or electrical connections. This can be prevented by cleaning the vehicle’s battery at regular intervals to remove any build-up and then consider conducting an MOT to ensure that electrical connections are in good working condition.
Wheel or Tire Damage
A vehicle’s tyre can easily get over or under-inflated or burst due to potholes or debris on the road; thus, you must pay attention to it to keep your tires in good condition.
When the tyres of your vehicle are under-inflated, they can overheat. Similarly, over-inflated tyres can cause them to expand excessively and explode. So make sure your tyres are at the proper pressure, which you can find in your vehicle’s owner’s manual. If one tyre is constantly losing air, it could indicate a gradual puncture.
When driving, having an extra tyre is always useful, particularly when going on long-distance rides. Besides this, carrying a puncture kit is also advised; even though it’s only a temporary fix, it can help you take your vehicle to a repair shop.
The alternator’s purpose is to charge the battery, and if it stops working, the battery will quickly die. Early warning indications of a failing alternator include:
- Dim headlights and weak battery issues when the engine is running.
- A screaming sound under the hood at particular RPMs.
- A flickering light appears when the engine is idle.
- If the charging warning light illuminates while you’re driving, the system is no longer charging, so pull over immediately and investigate.
Running Out of Fuel or Filling Wrong Fuel
Running out of gas is common; everybody experiences this at some point in their lives, and it is difficult to prevent entirely. Filling a diesel-powered vehicle with gasoline is significantly less usual, but it does happen on occasion. Both of these issues can lead to breakout.
By following these steps, such problems can be avoided:
- Before any long travel and before it gets chilly and dark outdoors, fill up on petrol.
- If you’re in an unfamiliar region, keep an eye on your gasoline gauge and don’t wait until the warning light turns on before filling up.
- If you’re going on a remote route with few gas stations, consider stopping at any station you come across when the gauge reaches 1/4 tank.
- If you’re driving a rented or a new vehicle, make sure you understand what kind and grade of fuel it requires.
Fouled Spark Plugs
This only goes for vehicles with a high mileage or older vehicles. A rich mixture (too much gasoline and less air) can cause the plugs to become fouled with fuel and not fire. To assist in avoiding difficulties, new spark plugs should be installed at the manufacturer’s suggested intervals, or around every 50,000 miles on newer vehicles. The following are symptoms of a problem:
- Engine starting problems, especially in wet conditions
- Engine malfunctioning, particularly when driving uphill
Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF)
In diesel-powered cars, DPF is a component of the exhaust system. It collects small soot particles and converts them into less hazardous gas.
The DPF should take care of itself, although it may become clogged if you make frequent short trips.
How to Avoid a Clogged DPF:
- A weekly short motorway tour should keep it from becoming clogged
- If it becomes overloaded, an indicator light on the dashboard will illuminate
- If the warning light comes on, you’ll need to travel at highway speeds for a while to clear it
- Read the car owner’s manual for detailed instructions
Alarms, Keys, and Locks
If your car alarm isn’t working, try your backup fob. If this works, you only need to change the battery in your fob.
If neither works, there could be a problem with the fobs (you’ll need to replace them) or a wiring issue with a sensor, in which scenario you should seek professional assistance.
Other concerns include:
- Broken keys
- Steering locks jammed
- Vehicle keys are locked inside.
- Keys stuck in ignition
Overheating is a regular issue when stuck in traffic, especially in scorching temperatures. Keep an eye on the coolant level and fan to ensure your cooling system is functioning properly. If the temperature warning light illuminates, you have a problem.
If you have contemporary coolant systems that do not require topping up between maintenance, therefore, if the level has reduced, you may have a leak that must be addressed.
The improper level of motor oil can damage your engine, and having excessive oil is just as dangerous as having too little.
If your vehicle has a diesel with DPF, the motor oil can become diluted, especially if the DPF regeneration doesn’t happen. This can cause severe engine damage and necessitates an oil change at your local mechanic.
How to avoid engine oil issues:
- Inspect your engine oil with a dipstick on a regular basis
- The oil level should be in the middle of the two lines
- The quantity of oil between the dipstick’s bottom and top lines is normally 1 litre
- Check the manufacturer’s manual for the exact oil specification.
Damaged Clutch Cables
Many drivers often overuse the clutch because they do not put their vehicle in neutral after stopping at traffic lights. It’s no wonder that this is one of the most common causes of automotive breakdown.
If you detect any changes in the way you feel about your clutch pedal, simply take it to your nearest mechanic and have it checked. It’s always better to stay on the side of caution because a broken clutch pedal is quite dangerous. If it is damaged, pull over to a safe location and call your roadside service provider, who will replace a temporary belt to get you to an auto repair shop or home.
Other Tips to Avoid Car Breakdown
- Regular Check-Ups: Don’t neglect your car’s routine maintenance. It keeps your vehicle in good condition and detects problems early. Also, ensure that your vehicle has a current MOT.
- Gentle Driving: Be gentle with your vehicle. Avoid slamming on the brakes, starting the engine in cold weather, or grinding gears. Smooth driving is essential for preventing strain on your vehicle.
- Keep an Eye on the Weight: Don’t overburden your car. Extra weight forces your vehicle to work harder, putting strain on the brakes and suspension.
- Warning Lights: Those dashboard warning lights are crucial. When one appears, it requires instant attention. Ignoring it will result in larger and more expensive repairs later.
Pay Attention to Strange Noises: If your vehicle starts making strange noises or feels strange to drive, don’t dismiss it. Check it out right away.