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17th March 2020

8 most common causes of breakdown and how to avoid them

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Breaking down is a driver’s worst nightmare, especially if it happens on a long journey.

The initial panic of how much is this going to cost sets in, but the cause of your breakdown could be a lot simpler than you think.

A lot of breakdowns are relatively easy to fix and if you keep a close eye on the following tips, you could avoid the embarrassment of breaking down while having your in-laws or kids in the back seat.

Common causes why your vehicle could have broken down:

Flat or faulty batteries

Perhaps the most common cause of a breakdown is either a faulty or a flat battery, especially during the winter. This often occurs if you rarely go on long trips as your battery hasn’t had long to charge. That’s unless you charge it overnight around once a fortnight.

Another reason batteries go flat is due to a poor electrical connection. Whilst your car’s battery terminals are cleaned and checked for corrosion during its MOT, it can build up throughout the year.

Tyre and wheel damage

Whether your tyre bursts from debris in the road or being under inflated, ensuring your tyres don’t let you down is a relatively easy task.

If your tyres are under-inflated, it can cause them to overheat. So make sure they remain at the correct pressure, which you can find in your vehicle’s drivers manual handbook. If one tyre is continually losing air, it could be the sign of a slow puncture.

Having a spare tyre is always handy when driving, especially long distance. A puncture repair kit is also a great thing to keep in the car even if it’s just a temporary fix. If you do hit a pothole or your tyre pressure is going down ensure that you don’t drive on it for too long and get it to the nearest garage.

Faulty spark plugs

It could be as simple as a spark plug that’s worn out or broken. If your car is regularly serviced this should not be a problem.

Without functioning spark plugs your car will simply not start, or will sound weird if it does. They produce a spark of electricity that creates the ignition for the combustion that is needed to start the engine by putting the pistons in motion, so your car can produce a smooth burn of compressed air fuel mixture and allows your vehicle to stay powered up.

Issues with the high tension leads

High-tension leads could be the reason why your car fails to start. These carry the voltage to the spark plugs – and an inconvenience if they go wrong when you’re heading to work in the morning.

Using WD-40 is suggested, but of course it is best if your local mechanic takes a look at the ignition system.

A fault with the alternator

Ever had a brand new battery, but the car won’t start? It doesn’t necessarily mean the battery is dodgy, it could be the alternator. The alternator keeps the battery charged by taking energy from the engine.

If the temperature of your engine heats up exponentially and the ignition light on your dashboard lights up, don’t attempt to re-start your vehicle. This is a major problem and will need roadside assistance as the water pump and/or the alternator belt has broken.

Burnt out clutch cables

The clutch is often overused by many drivers, for example, who don’t put the car in neutral once you have pulled up at traffic lights. So it’s no surprise that this is one of the most common ways your car can breakdown.

If you notice any change to the feel of your clutch pedal, simply go to your local garage and get it checked. It’s always best to err on the side of caution as a broken clutch pedal is very serious.

Putting the wrong fuel in your car

It might seem simple, but putting the wrong fuel in your vehicle will obviously cause it to stop working. If you are one of the thousands of people in the UK to do this each year, simply remove the keys from the ignition and put the car in neutral, then it’s time to call roadside assistance.

Sterling also offers misfuelling assistance just in case.

Loss of oil

If your engine runs out of oil your engine will seize working as it needs the engine oil to lubricate parts of the engine from grinding together and damaging the engine completely. If damaged you may need to buy a replacement, so a routine check using the dipstick to check the oil level. In some cases, depending on how old the car is, by the time the low oil engine light appears on dashboard it may be too late to take it to your local garage.

These tips should ensure your vehicle stays on the road for longer, but in the likelihood of being left stranded on the side of the road, Sterling offers breakdown cover to ease your troubles.

The cost of not having breakdown cover can be huge due to the high towing costs and call out charge – but the coverage usually pays for itself the first time you need it.

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