Most Frequent Causes of Breakdowns

The ancient Romans believed in the saying “a sound mind in a sound body”. There were no cars back then, but if there were, there may have been a similar nugget of wisdom to the effect “a safe drive in a well-maintained vehicle”. Just as the human body needs regular exercise and preventive check-ups to keep it in good condition, your vehicle needs periodic exercise and maintenance too.

Effect of Modern Technology

Vehicles are made up of multiple components and sub-systems, all of which need to be in tip-top condition if you are to avoid the risk and inconvenience of breakdowns. Vehicle breakdown can also be caused by the way we drive. For example, “riding the clutch” can damage the clutch plate. Of course, if you drive a car with automatic transmission, this won’t bother you. Your vehicle’s battery may get discharged if the car is used only occasionally or on very short drives. So take your car for a longish drive at least once a week to keep it charged. If you’re going to be away on a long trip, make arrangements with someone you trust to give your car some exercise every few days.

Problems Starting an Engine

If the vehicle does not start, it may be because of a faulty starter motor. Vehicle batteries are a common source of breakdowns, triggered by inadequate charge, corrosion around the connections or loose contacts. If you experience malfunctioning wipers or dim headlights, it could be the alternator that’s playing up. This may not be serious at all times, but if you’re driving in heavy rain, you may be forced to stop.

Inadequate or untimely service in line with the manufacturer’s recommended service schedule is a major reason for vehicle breakdown and owners who might be tempted to skip annual MOT requirements. Sometimes, though, breakdowns are caused by far simple things such as not using the right fuel, not applying adequate grease to the battery leads, or not checking levels of engine oil or coolant. Any of these situations can cause vehicle breakdown. Some breakdowns are triggered by weather conditions and the risk of breakdown increases in winter months, hence extra precautions are required.

Regular Checks and Servicing

If your battery is more than a couple of years old, get it specifically checked before winter sets in. If the battery can’t hold enough charge, you may find yourself having to jumpstart your car more often than you’d care for. Engine oil tends to become more viscous in winter, so if it’s some time for your regular service, get the engine oil checked before the cold sets in. Remember also to check the heater, defroster
and wiper blades in your car, for poor visibility, especially during heavy rain, sleet or snow, can be a serious hazard.

Tyre pressures determine how much traction you get and often dictate fuel consumption, especially if you’re going to have to drive through snow and slush, so ensure you follow your vehicle manufacturer’s instructions on tyre pressure. All through the winter months, try and park your car in a garage, so that it is protected from direct cold and the harsher environment. Add the recommended antifreeze to your radiator before winter sets in fully, so that the engine does not freeze.