Breaking down is the last thing anybody wants as the uncertainty around what has gone wrong and how much a repair will cost is far from ideal. Sometimes, a breakdown is unavoidable and cannot be prevented, however, that does not mean that the chances of having a breakdown cannot be reduced.
A few simple maintenance checks can work wonders
Give your car a thorough check every few weeks and you may spot problems before they cause a breakdown. There are 6 key areas to keep on top of: fuel, lights, oil, water, electrics and rubber. When it comes to remembering them, just think: FLOWER
Don’t wait until your fuel light comes on, especially if you’re in an unfamiliar place. It may sound obvious but, if you’re running low on fuel and you see a petrol station, top up.
Give all your exterior lights a decent clean every few weeks, making sure to check for blown bulbs and cracks in the lenses.
Cars can get through up to a litre of oil every 1,000 miles, so it pays to check your oil level regularly (check your handbook if you’re not sure how to). Don’t wait for the red oil pressure warning light to come on – your engine might already be damaged by then. A car will naturally run out of engine oil over time however, if your engine oil light comes on, make sure to pull over as soon as possible and check underneath your car.
Holes or cracks can open up from somewhere in an engine and spill out oil, so if you see liquid dripping down, get yourself to a garage immediately.
If there is no leakage, go to your closest garage, buy some engine oil and top it up as a failure to do so will lead to breakdown.
Overheating causes a lot of breakdowns, especially in hotter weather, so check your coolant level every couple of weeks (again, if you’re unsure, your handbook will explain). If the level always seems low, check for leaks. It’s always a good idea to keep your windscreen washer fluid topped up, too.
Battery problems are the number one cause of breakdowns, at any time of year. So if your battery’s getting a bit old and tired, renew it before it lets you down. You should also make sure that your radiator’s electric cooling fan starts running when the engine gets hot. You can check this by running the engine with the car stationary, or ask your garage to have a look for you.
If your tyres aren’t inflated properly, you could be putting yourself at serious risk. They’ll also wear out faster and can lead to wasted fuel. If you’ve got a full load on board you’ll need to increase your tyre pressures – your handbook will tell you the right levels.
Never miss service
It goes without saying really. You may bury your face in your hands when a mechanic tells you that you need to replace your brake pads, however, at the end of the day, they are the experts and you need to listen to their advice. Getting a full service will allow a mechanic to identify a small problem before it turns into a big one.
Source: Associated Automobiles and the Independent