Three Simple Vehicle Checks You Can Make to Prevent a Breakdown

Prevent a Breakdown

The number of car breakdowns reported each year has been increasing, with a fifth more motorway breakdowns occurring on average since 2014. Whether these breakdowns are attributed to a greater number of second-hand cars on the market, or to a driving population that knows less about car maintenance, it can be good to refresh the basics of what can go wrong with a car. Here are three simple checks you can make, to prevent your car from the most common breakdown causes.

Check Your Oil

Your engine oil is crucial to the overall health of your vehicle’s engine, and if left unchecked can cause a variety of problems that could well lead to an eventual breakdown. For starters, your engine oil levels can deplete, meaning the engine is not being lubricated as much as it should be. This can affect fuel economy, as the engine has to try harder to overcome the resistance it poses itself; but, more importantly, it can also lead your engine’s moving parts to failure far quicker, as they seize and brick your engine.

Your oil can also become dirty over time, as it picks up debris and dust from your engine over its life. Dirty engine oil is more viscous than clean engine oil, and not as good a lubricant, similarly leading to engine seizure if not replaced. Dirty oil can also burn in the engine, causing the release of toxic fumes that could damage your catalytic converter.

Check Your Tyres

When you think about a car breakdown, you tend to think about the engine or electrical issues – but your car tires could well be your weakest link when it comes to requiring roadside assistance. For starters, check the tread on each of your car’s tires; the legal minimum tread depth is 1.6mm, or the width of the outer band on a 20p piece. Below that, your tire is balding and more likely to lose traction, especially in icy conditions. You are also at an increased risk of puncture or blowout.

Likewise, tire pressure can cause issues on the road: too high and you will lose fuel economy, as well as increase the risk of a puncture; too low and you can affect your steering and reaction times, and similarly increase the risk of a blowout. Ensure you have a spare tyre for your car available in the event of a puncture or blowout – this way, you can save money on a call-out when at the side of the road, and could well be back on your way in no time.

Check Your Battery

Your car’s battery is a relatively low-maintenance piece of equipment; they are also the most common reason for car breakdowns in the UK. Your car’s battery is used to ignite your engine and power the electronics in your car but is in turn re-charged by your car’s alternator while the engine is running. This means your battery can last years before running low and put them at the bottom of the list for checking or replacing. You will need to check your battery with a multimeter; if it measures less than 12 volts with the engine off, it could be bad – and if it measures less than 5 volts with the engine running, it needs replacing immediately.