The Top 10 Reasons a Car Breaks Down

Whether it’s the first time you’ve had a mechanical breakdown on the road or your car breaks down often, it’s important to stay safe and get help right away.

Whether it’s the first time you’ve had a mechanical breakdown on the road or your car breaks down often, it’s important to stay safe and get help right away.

At Cover My Breakdown we’re proud that our average call out time is less than an hour, with 59% of cars fixed at the roadside. We’ll have you on your way again in no time.

Here are the top 10 reasons a car breaks down:

A faulty or flat battery

Particularly in winter, issues with a car’s battery are the number one cause of breakdowns. You may not be able to start your car if your battery is failing. The battery in a car powers the starter motor, the alternator is turned by the engine, which then recharges the battery.

Causes of a flat battery include leaving lights on whilst the engine is off, multiple short journeys, not driving a car for a long time, poor electrical connection and the age of a battery.

Damage to wheels or tyres

It’s important to check your tyres, rims and wheels if you hit a pothole, a kerb or drive over something sharp.

There are other causes of damage which may be less obvious, including damage to the tyre valve, slow punctures, old age of the tyre and wear of the tread. You should make sure your tyre pressures are correct and your wheels are aligned.

Engine oil

Both having too little and too much oil can damage your car’s engine, it is vital to have the correct amount in order to avoid an issue.

You should check your engine oil level, making sure to use the correct type of oil if it needs topping up – as stated in your vehicle’s handbook.

Problems with fuel

Have you put petrol in a diesel car, or vice-versa? You’ll need to have your system drained and flushed out.

Has your vehicle run out of fuel on the road? Remember to top up your tank before it gets too low, as your miles remaining indicator may not be accurate.

Gearbox failure

The main causes of gearbox failure can include inadequate lubrication, water contamination, misalignment and overloading.

You may hear rumbling, clunking, grinding or crunching noises before your gearbox fails. It can be difficult to hear a damaged gearbox in a noisy environment, so if you suspect somethings not right make sure to visit your local garage.

Radiator issues

The job of the radiator is to prevent the engine from overheating, by absorbing heat. There are a few signs that you might have a failing radiator, the coolant needs replacing or another issue.

If your vehicle often overheats in normal driving conditions, you see coolant leaking from under the car or the colour of your car’s coolant changes then you may have an issue with your radiator.

Starter motor fault

If a vehicle’s starter motor fails, then you won’t be able to start the engine.

This can happen due to wear and tear or a loose connection, with a range of signs such as loud clicking, dimming of lights… or absolutely nothing.

Alternator problems

If your vehicle’s alternator is not working properly then the battery will not charge correctly, which may trigger the battery warning light to appear on the dashboard.

The battery will likely run flat whilst driving or the vehicle will fail to start. Dimming of lights, engine stalling and unusual sounds may also be signs of a failing alternator.

Misplacing a key

Unfortunately, accidents happen and keys either get misplaced or locked within the vehicle.

You should always keep a spare key in a safe location – not inside the car!

We do offer key cover as an optional extra

Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF)

Diesel engines have a special filter fitter to trap dirt in order to reduce exhaust emissions. The DPF filter can get blocked, particularly if the vehicle is used for many short journeys at slower speeds.

An orange filter light will likely appear on the dashboard, indicating that the DPF is becoming clogged. The vehicle may not run properly if the filter becomes blocked.

With Cover My Breakdown you’ll have peace of mind that we’re here to help, 24/7, should you need us on your journey.

If you don’t yet have breakdown cover, our home and national cover starts at under £20 per year

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