Breaking down is a driver’s worst nightmare, especially if it happens on a long journey like a road trip. You can never be sure when your car may have a problem. The older the vehicle, the more causes for a breakdown but newer cars are just as capable of developing a fault. Although car breakdowns are generally more common during cold winter months, they may occur at any time of the year for several reasons. The initial panic of how much it is going to cost sets in but the cause of your breakdown could be a lot simpler than you think. A breakdown can be expected at some point during the natural life cycle of a vehicle.
10 Common Reasons for Car Breakdowns
A faulty battery is one of the most common causes of breakdowns. A car’s battery powers the starter motor and then the engine turns the alternator which recharges the battery. Batteries do get old and less efficient, typically every 5 years in normal use. Extremes of heat or cold can accelerate this as can running the battery down and repeatedly recharging it. Faulty batteries are commonly caused by leaving the lights on when the engine’s off but there is also a good chance battery problems will be down to lots of short journeys or a poor electrical connection. To avoid getting a flat battery, take the car for a decent long run in the daylight. The longer drive will allow the battery to recharge. You can remedy this by charging it yourself every couple of weeks, either manually or by driving around. Also, when you have your car serviced ask the technician to check that the connections are secure and the terminals are free from corrosion. Any signs of corrosion could indicate that you need a new car battery.
Tires and Wheel Damage
Don’t forget to check your tire pressure, and look out for any damage to the walls of the tire regularly. A flat tire caused by a puncture is a very common cause of breaking down. Poorly maintained tires are more likely to have issues so check your tires regularly, making sure they have a tread depth and they are inflated to the right pressure. Uneven wearing of the tires could indicate that your wheels aren’t aligned properly.
Without an alternator, the battery can’t be charged up by the engine. Your vehicle’s alternator works by continually converting mechanical energy into electrical energy to keep your car’s battery charged. While your battery’s stored power is enough to keep the electrics running for a while, if your alternator stops working your battery will eventually go flat. Dim cabin lights, blinking gauge while your car is idling, sluggish windshield wipers, and flickering head all of which are issues that indicate your alternator may be about to go.
Running out of petrol is avoidable, as is putting the wrong fuel in the car. If the wrong fuel goes into the tank, don’t start the engine. If you have accidentally put petrol in your diesel car, it can cause damage. When driven any distance after misfuelling things become a little more complicated. In some cases, the fuel being pumped out and the system flushed might do the trick, but in other cases mechanical damage can be done. Putting the wrong fuel in your vehicle will cause it to stop working. Remove the keys from the ignition and put the car in neutral then call roadside assistance.
This only applies to older cars or modern cars with a lot of miles on them. Spark plugs produce an electrical spark that ignites the fuel and air in the engine, causing the pistons to move up and down. They do wear out and need changing when your car has its regular servicing. Too rich of a mixture can cause the plugs to get fuel fouled and not fire. A worn engine with loose rings and bad valve stem seals can foul them when oil gets into the combustion chamber. To help avoid the problem, new sparks plugs should be fitted at the intervals recommended by the car manufacturer.
Electrical faults are on the increase as electrical systems become over more complex, these are often difficult to diagnose. However, anything unusual should be well checked out before it causes a breakdown. Your car’s electrical system includes a range of circuits controlling everything, problems can arise due to faulty wirings or blown fuses. A trained mechanic can run a full analysis of the electrical system and advise you on what to do.
Starter Motor Failure
The starter motor uses electricity from the battery to turn and start the engine when the car ignition is switched on. If it fails, the car won’t start and you will be stranded. Some cars have a hard time making it to thousands of miles, there is not much way of preventive starter maintenance that can be done besides bringing it to the technician for vehicle check-ups.
Engine trouble can mean several things but one of the most obvious causes is owning a car with high mileage. Other engine failures are due to overheating and this can occur for several reasons. A failing or bad-cooler fan, a faulty water pump, or a leak are common issues that enable the engine to overheat. Overheating can be a top cause of breakdowns, id your temperature warning light is on there could be a problem with the engine. If there is steam coming from your engine, pull over in the nearest safe spot, and call for assistance.
Broken Clutch Cable
This only applies to cars with a manual gearbox, and even some of those have a hydraulic clutch that doesn’t use a cable. If you’re driving a manual car, the clutch cable comes under pressure every time you change gear. If you notice any difference in the way the clutch feels under your foot, don’t ignore it. To avoid trouble, make sure that the clutch cable is checked and lubricated when getting your oil changed and tires rotated. Get your car to a shop and have it checked. If the cable breaks while you’re driving, pull over in a safe place and call assistance.
Distributor Cap Failure
The distributor cap covers the distributor that routes high voltage to the spark plugs. If the cap is damaged then in damp conditions, it may have a short circuit, stopping the spark from reaching the spark plugs. It does not take much to affect the cap because the smallest crack in the cap will be enough for a leak to occur. It can be work checking the distributor cap from time to time and is easy to replace
Once a breakdown has occurred, the best way to avoid further trouble is to ensure that proper repairs and maintenance are carried out for any faults that may have been uncovered during the incident. Luckily, Larkin Automotive offers auto repair services for an affordable cost to avoid car breakdowns in the middle of the road. We pride ourselves in providing you with the best car services in Dublin using the best products and parts that will suit your needs while keeping our prices affordable. We offer car services and repairs, diagnostic, engine carbon cleaning, air conditioning service and repairs, tire service and 3-D wheel alignment, and NCT & CVRT preparation.