Two things you can do to prevent your vehicle from breaking down

Posted on: 4 February 2017

A car breakdown isn't just inconvenient; it can also be very costly. If you'd like to avoid the expense of paying for a tow truck and auto mechanical repairs, here are some things you can do to ensure your vehicle runs smoothly when you're on the road.

Look after the battery

One of the most common causes of car breakdowns is a dead battery. As such, you can greatly reduce the chance of this situation cropping up simply by taking care of this particular component.

A battery will lose its charge much faster if a vehicle is used primarily for short journeys. This is because, when a car is driven for, say, 15 minutes each day, it does not have enough time to recharge. Regular under-charging can then lead to an issue called sulphation, where lead-sulphate accumulates inside a battery and impedes its ability to retain a charge. As such, if most of your daily road journeys are relatively brief, it's worth going for one or two longer drives a few times a week. You needn't take the car out specifically for this purpose; instead, simply take a longer route to your destination every once in a while.

It's also worth noting that all car batteries will eventually fail, usually after about four or five years. Given this, you can prevent a battery-induced vehicle breakdown by watching out for the early warning signs of an aging battery and replacing it as soon as these symptoms begin to appear. Things such as permanently dim headlights and difficulty starting your engine could all indicate that your battery is past its prime and needs to be replaced.

Don't allow the engine to overheat

An overheated engine can also lead to a car breakdown. This can be quite a serious problem, which could potentially destroy your vehicle beyond repair; it can lead to the destruction of very important components, such as the cylinders and the head gaskets.

The simplest way to avoid an overheated engine is to make sure that there is a sufficient amount of coolant available. When this fluid drops below the minimum recommended levels, the engine will overheat and damage will occur. It's relatively easy to top up this fluid yourself; however, if you notice that the coolant reservoir indicator on your dashboard is continuing to fall below the recommended levels even after top-ups, it's important to seek out the advice of a qualified mechanic, as there could be a leak which may need to be repaired.

It's also important to be able to identify the early symptoms of an overheating engine so that you can prevent further damage. Should you see the temperature gauge beginning to rise whilst you are on the road, or if you see steam emerging from underneath the bonnet, pull over and turn off the car as soon as it is safe to do so. If you cannot do this because, for example, you're stuck in traffic, switch off any electronic systems which might put extra pressure on the engine (such as the air conditioning) and roll down all of your car's windows.