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Vehicle breakdowns and how to avoid them

Not only can a car breakdown be a real annoyance, but it can also become expensive when something major needs to be fixed. There are ways you can avoid vehicle mishaps and keep your car running smoothly.

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  • Finance
  • Read Time: 5 mins

An unexpected vehicle breakdown can be an extremely frustrating and inconvenient experience. They always seem to happen when you least expect it, and as a car owner, there’s nothing worse than being stranded on the side of the road when you need to be somewhere in a hurry. Here are the common causes of breakdowns and what you can do to minimise the chances of having it happen to you.

Regular vehicle maintenance

Failing to maintain your regular car service is one of the most common causes of a breakdown. Neglecting to check the oil and coolant levels can lead to overheating and damaged engine parts.

Repairs can be very expensive, so it is far cheaper to carry a one-litre bottle of your vehicle’s approved motor oil and check your levels often. 

Regular professional services are a great investment in the running of your car and are highly recommended.

Avoid a blow-out


Mishaps happen, no matter how prepared you are. If you do suffer a tyre blowout, be sure to have an inflated road-legal tyre and the tools you’ll need to replace it. It doesn’t hurt to learn how to change one yourself, just in case.

One or more of your tyres may suffer a gradual loss of pressure that is hard to detect.

Signs to watch for include bulging of the sidewall, excessive wear on the outer edges of the tread, wear on the sidewall, heaviness in the steering, and the car pulling left or right.

Some cars have the technology to detect changes in tyre pressure with a dashboard alert. Do not ignore this warning and check your tyre pressure as soon as possible.

Check your battery

Car batteries have a limited life. They should be checked regularly as faulty batteries are another common cause of roadside breakdowns. Batteries can be checked with a voltmeter or power probe.

If you are not comfortable doing this yourself, make sure it’s tested during a regular professional service or simply take your car to a battery or auto parts store.

If your battery needs replacing, ensure you get the correct capacity battery for your vehicle. Remember a better warranty is a good indication as to the quality of your purchase. 

Avoid a flat battery by:

  • Regularly checking the battery’s health and life span.
  • Making sure the lights are turned off when not in use.

  • Checking the battery’s electrical connections.

  • Taking your car on regular long-distance runs.

Keep your (car) cool

Don’t ignore an overheating warning light in your car or a rise in your temperature gauge. Your car may overheat for several reasons including a leak in the cooling system or low oil/water levels which, combined with the hot Australian weather, could be a recipe for disaster. Your engine could overheat and cause major damage.

If you get a warning sign, have your car checked out as soon as possible. Keep bottles of water and coolant in the car and if a warning pops up while you’re driving, pull over straight away to let the engine cool down.

Creating a spark

We tend to forget about this important car component but, over time, spark plugs can wear and even break. A check of these is usually included in your vehicle’s professional service but be on the lookout for possible clues of faulty spark plugs such as difficulty starting your car, poor fuel efficiency, and poor acceleration.

With these points in mind, you can minimise the chance of finding yourself stranded on the side of the road with a broken-down car. The biggest takeaway here is to make sure you don’t ignore any warning signs that something is wrong with the running of your car.

Remember to get your car regularly serviced even if you are not driving often a service bill is your best insurance policy for years of happy motoring.

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