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The Top Three Causes of a Motor Vehicle Breakdown (and how to Spot them)

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Whether it’s happened to you or not, breaking down and getting stranded with your vehicle by the side of the road is everyone’s idea of a nightmare. Whilst it is strongly advisable to take out motor breakdown cover, it is possible to spot some problems before they occur.

We’ve looked at what the experts say (including Which, the AA, the RAC and Green Flag) and summarised four of the top causes of motor vehicle breakdown as well as how to spot them.

Flat Battery

The number one culprit of all breakdowns (between 18% and 20% according to the experts), especially in the winter months, is a flat or faulty battery. Flat batteries are more common with vehicles that only take short journeys. This doesn’t allow the battery to properly charge properly, running it down faster. If this is you, then try to take your car for a longer drive every now again if possible. Also make sure the terminals are protected from corrosion with a layer of petroleum jelly or grease every time your car is serviced.

How to spot: The engine may turn over more slowly and the red battery light on the dashboard may start to flicker.

Lost Keys

Although not technically a cause of a mechanical or electrical breakdown, lost keys are responsible, rather embarrassingly, for a huge number of callouts. There’s not really much more to say about this than keep a spare set and try not to lose them if you’re out. Car dealers will be able to order you a replacement set but this can take weeks.

How to spot: A growing sense of panic, followed by that sinking feeling of knowing you’ve totally screwed up.

Flat Tyre or Blowout

The most common culprit for a blowout or flat is under inflating your tyres. This is easily avoidable simply by making sure you change them when necessary and making sure the tyre pressure is correct. Sometimes a flat is unavoidable if you hit debris in the road, so always make sure you carry a spare tyre with you as well as the means of fitting it, no matter how good a condition your tyres are in beforehand.

How to spot: Sluggish steering and one tyre losing pressure faster than the others could be signs you have a slow puncture.

Other Culprits

These three causes of motor vehicle breakdown are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to breakdown. Other major culprits include, faulty starter motors, alternators, distributor caps, spark plugs and fuel problems (using the wrong fuel). Most are avoidable by getting your car in for a regular service and checking things like tyre pressure oil levels yourself.

For more info on what to do in case of a breakdown, the AA have produced this very useful guide.

At DNA Insurance, most of our policies come with the option of breakdown cover. Call one of our team for more details on 08445 732 400.

by David Hambridge