Standing by the side of the road waiting for breakdown recovery is something we’d all rather avoid.
To help you enjoy trouble free motoring, we’ve identified some of the most common causes of breakdowns and shared our expert advice on how to avoid these scenarios.
Flat or faulty battery
Frequent short journeys and poor electrical connections can cause problems with your car battery. Battery faults are a frequent cause of breakdowns, especially during the winter months. When you have your car serviced, the garage will check that connections are secure and your battery terminals clean and protected from corrosion.
Long journeys will help to charge up your battery. Alternatively, remove the battery and charge it up overnight. That way, you’ll keep your battery running for longer.
Damaged tyres and wheels
Before you go on a long journey, make sure your spare wheel is in a decent condition with plenty of tread and inflated for use. Some cars just have a tyre inflator and sealant kit. If you do have a jack, you should ensure it’s accessible and in good condition, and is accompanied by other wheel removal tools and locking wheel nut adaptor.
You can reduce the risk of tyres being the cause of a roadside breakdown by making a few simple checks. First, look to see if your tread depths are within the 1.6 mm legal limit. Next, make sure your tyre pressure is correct for your vehicle. Tyres that are over or under-inflated are more liable to blow. You should also adjust your tyre pressure accordingly if you’re driving with a heavy load.
According to the RAC, electrical problems are the second most commonly reported fault and account for more than 8% of warranty claims.
Today’s cars are full of electrical and computerised parts from electronic windows to built-in GPS. Your dashboard is a far cry from the days of old, when you just had a few dials to keep an eye on. Now you’re looking at a dazzling array of images and menu options.
The downside of enjoying the latest technology in your car is the fact that there’s more electronic circuitry that can go wrong. And it can be hard to identify a fault unless you have the necessary testing equipment. This is where breakdown cover is invaluable, as your call out engineer will be armed with the latest testing devices.
Another common cause of breakdowns is over heated engines. Faults with coolants, water pumps and fans can all cause engines to overheat.
A visual inspection of your entire cooling system can reveal any system leaks. Potential leak points include hoses, radiator, heater core, water pump, thermostat housing, head gasket, freeze plugs, and automatic transmission oil cooler.
If your temperature warning light does come on, a garage will be able to perform pressure testing that should reveal the source of any internal leaks.
The RAC report that 4.3% of warranty claims relate to alternator problems citing Vauxhall Astra, Land Rover Discovery and the Ford Focus as the most common cars to experience alternator faults.
Persistent battery problems – or if you find you’re driving with dimly lit headlights – could be indicators that there’s something wrong with your alternator. If your ignition warning light comes on and your engine temperature rises fast, it could mean the belt that drives the alternator and water pump is damaged. If this happens, you should stop immediately, don’t restart your engine, and call for assistance.
Remember to fill up…
The one time you forget you’re nearly empty is when you’re on a long stretch of road with no services for miles.
As well as checking you’ve got enough fuel before you set off on a long journey, you should also take a look other fluid levels such as oil, radiator fluid, coolant levels and windscreen wiper fluid.
These simple checks should help you to avoid some of the more obvious breakdown problems.
Enjoy trouble-free car maintenance
Foster & HeanesFoster & Heanes offers car servicing, maintenance and repair for all makes and models of vehicles including classic and vintage cars. We can arrange free collection and delivery if you live near our Fleet or Dogmersfield service centres. Please visit website for details or call us on 01252 615657.