In 2014, the RAC attended 1,662,412 stranded vehicles that needed breakdown assistance. We’ve put together the top reasons for breakdowns last year, along with ways to prevent the same thing from happening to you.
The RAC attends more call-outs for batteries than any other problem – we attended more than 450,000 battery-related call-outs in 2014 and we fit around 100,000 batteries a year. To prevent battery faults, make sure you turn off everything in the car when you leave it. And if you mostly make short journeys and few long distance trips, try to charge the battery overnight every two weeks.
The best way to avoid having to change a wheel at the side of the road is to regularly check your tyres’ condition to see if there is adequate tread or uneven tyre wear – this could be a sign that the wheels are misaligned. Also look for splits or bulges and check the pressure.
Find further information on breakdown cover or speak to one of our RAC advisers on 0330 159 1111 to get a quote.
Running out of fuel and filling up with the wrong type are both preventable. Fill up at the start of your journey and long before the warning light comes on. And if you fill up with the wrong fuel, do not start the car! Call your breakdown provider to tow your car to a garage where it will be drained.
A breakdown could be due to any number of mechanical faults. The alternator is one component that could fail and cause problems. If it stops working, the battery won’t charge properly and the engine will cut out so if you think there is something wrong, visit a garage as soon as possible.
Puncture no spare
Puncture no spare’ breakdowns reached more than 110,000 in 2014 and 2015 figures are expected to rise to 250,000. The easiest way to avoid having to make this call is to carry a spare wheel, make sure it’s in a useable condition and practice removing and replacing a wheel.
As vehicles get increasingly complex switches and controls, electrical faults are becoming more common. Electrical issues can sometimes be fixed simply by replacing the battery but if the problem is the on-board computer, a mechanic will be able to identify the root of the fault by plugging their own computer into your car.
Charging electric vehicles
The simplest way to prevent your electric car running out of power is to make sure it’s fully charged before you drive anywhere. If the worst does happen, you can call on the RAC to come to your aid with its first mobile electric charging system, EVRESCUE, which can deliver around 15 miles of range to a stricken electric vehicle in less than half an hour.
Clutch cables can snap and the plate can wear away. You can reduce excess wear on the clutch by changing your driving habits – try to use the handbrake on hills and junctions rather than the clutch.
Faults with your car’s spark plugs or high-tension (HT) leads can cause the car not to start. You can prevent this by replacing plugs at recommended service intervals and have your leads checked and replaced as necessary.
Cooling, heating, ventilation and air conditioning
Air conditioning issues and overheating are major reasons for breakdowns, especially in hot weather. Cooling-related faults also cause serious problems. Avoid overheating by checking the coolant level or asking your garage to check the system. Also, make sure there’s sufficient anti-freeze in the coolant.