How to prevent a vehicle breakdown

By Liberty Insurance on 21 July 2015
How to prevent a vehicle breakdown

There’s nothing like an out of the blue car breakdown to ruin your day. And although you can’t predict when it will happen, there are some preventative steps you can take to stop it from happening in the first place.

It’s basic but giving your car a thorough inspection inside and out will ensure you catch anything out of the ordinary. This includes checking for any strange sounds.

Three fluids to check regularly

  • Engine oil – try and check this on a monthly basis. Just open the bonnet, find the dipstick and pull it out. Use a cloth to clean it off, dip it in again and pull it out again. If it’s below the safe level, you’ll need to add more. Change the oil as often as your owner’s handbook recommends.
  • Coolant – this keeps your engine cool and without it, your car will overheat. Check it twice a year by opening the radiator cap when your engine is cool. If it’s below the line then add more.
  • Brake fluid – if your brakes ever feel strange, then this is the first thing to check. It’s on the driver’s side of the car in the brake fluid reservoir and you can check it just by looking at the outside of the container. If it’s brown, not golden, then it’s time to replace it.

Check your battery

Most flat battery issues are caused by constant use on short journeys. So as well as getting your battery checked thoroughly as part of its annual service, if you rarely make a long journey then an overcharge every two weeks will prolong your battery life. Carrying jump leads in your car in case of a flat battery is also a good idea.

Fuel problems

Breakdowns can be caused by empty fuel tanks so fill up before the low-fuel warning light comes on. And putting the wrong fuel in your car is more common than you’d think – so watch out at the pump!

Plugs, cables and leads to check

  • Clutch cables - these are under high stress and the wire strands can be weakened until the point of break. As soon as you see any signs of wear, they should be replaced.
  • Spark plugs - plugs should be replaced as per your manufacturer’s recommendation.
  • HT Leads - high-tension (HT) leads and their connections can deteriorate with age, reducing ignition voltage. Ask your garage to check them and replace as necessary.

Tyre safety

It’s vital to keep your tyres in good condition and correctly inflated. Regular checks and maintenance will help prolong tyre life and keep you on the right side of the law too.

  • Check your tyre tread – tyre tread keeps you on the road and safe in all types of weather conditions. The legal tyre tread is 1.6mm – anything less will have a detrimental affect on performance, so once it reaches 3mm, you should regularly check the depth.
  • Tyre age – tyres deteriorate through exposure to heat, sunlight (UV) and rain. Once severe UV cracking appears, they should be replaced at once, regardless of age.
  • Tyre pressure – the right tyre pressure supports the weight of your vehicle and load. It varies from vehicle to vehicle and you should regularly check your tyre pressure against the specifications in your handbook.
  • Alignment – incorrect wheel alignment results in rapid and uneven wear so get it checked regularly.
  • Spare tyre – always carry a spare in good condition, in case of puncture, and make sure you know how to change it!

At Liberty Insurance we offer FREE breakdown assist (including home-start). Find out more here

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