There’s rarely a good time to breakdown, but when it does happen it always seems to be at the worst possible moment. Whether it’s a flat tyre on the way to a wedding, or your car just won’t start when you’re already running late for work, breaking down is an unfortunate part and parcel of motoring. Here we take a look at six of the most common types of breakdown, and what you can do to solve or, even better, avoid them.
We’ve all been there, haven’t we? You can’t figure out for the life of you where your keys have vanished to, and the spare set’s nowhere to be found. Maybe you’ve lost your bag or briefcase while out and about. Or you’ve somehow locked your keys in the car and have no way of getting back in. Modern car manufacturers like Jaguar put microchips in your keys, which act as a great security measure. If you’re really stuck, breakdown companies can help you get into your car, as they work with manufacturers and follow the correct security processes to link up with its chip.
There are few worse sounds than a car failing to start as its battery gives in. Flat or faulty batteries are the most common cause of breakdown, especially over the winter period. Issues can arise if you don’t travel long distances very often, as the battery doesn’t get a chance to fully charge. If you usually only go for short drives, try going for a blast along the motorway every once in a while, or charge your battery overnight every couple of weeks or so. Alternatively, there may be a problem with the connection to your battery, or it may be at the end of its life and need changing.
Problems with tyres are a hugely common cause of breakdowns, usually from flats and punctures. There’s not much you can do to avoid getting a puncture, but there are steps you can take to look after your tyres. Check the depth of the tread regularly to make sure they’re legal, and adjust pressures if you’re carrying heavy loads. If you do get a flat tyre, be prepared by ensuring you have a roadworthy spare on board, and learning how to change it yourself.
It might seem like something you’d never imagine doing, but there are plenty of us who have put the wrong type of fuel into our cars - 150,000 of us every year, in fact. Mistakes can be made if you’re distracted or in a rush, but it’s important not to drive your car if or when you realise what you’ve done. Call your breakdown company and get some help draining your fuel tank, before you wreak havoc on your engine.
Starter motors are built to last, but there comes a time when they’ll eventually fail. There’s not much you can do to avoid this problem, but with the right servicing and maintenance of your car, it’s easier to pick up potential issues like this.
Unfortunately, it’s the same story with alternators. You can’t really check up on the health of your alternator, but the tell-tale signs it’s playing up include problems with your battery and if your headlights dim when the engine’s idling. Make sure you pay attention to any warning lights on your dashboard, and keep an eye on the temperature of your engine.