Picture the scene: you’re on the road heading to a friend’s wedding, a daughter’s birthday, a crucial business meeting or some other must-not-miss event. Suddenly, your engine begins to splutter and before you know it, you’ve pulled up at the side of the road with a car that won’t start and a party, meeting or other event that you’re definitely going to miss.
Cars can break down for a multitude of reasons, and most of them can be fixed at the roadside if you have the appropriate breakdown cover. This can be purchased alongside car insurance, in the hope that you will never need it but it will give you piece of mind. Here are the most common reasons why you might end up stranded by the roadside, and a few tips to reduce the risk of it ruining your day:
Dead, flat, low or faulty battery
Many breakdowns occur through problems with the car battery, whether it has a fault or it’s simply run out of juice. The problem can easily be resolved with a set of jump leads and another car – but if you’re travelling alone, these aren’t always easy to come by!
One of the main causes of battery problems is loss of voltage caused by frequent short journeys. Try to take your car on a longer journey once every week or so – run a bunch of errands all in one go, drive a longer distance to see a relative or offer to be the designated driver for an event to keep your battery in good shape.
Be honest – could you change a flat tire if it happened to you at the roadside right now? Do you have all the equipment and a spare tire to boot? Around 10% of calls to breakdown assistance teams are related to some form of tire damage, whether it’s tread wear, a puncture or low tire pressure. Be sure to check your tires once a week to minimise the risk of being caught out at the roadside.
Did you know that every year, more than 150,000 motorists put the wrong type of fuel into their car? If you’re driving a new car, or if you’re not concentrating at the pump, it’s easily done. Empty fuel tanks are also a common cause of breakdowns – don’t risk it by allowing your meter to fall into the red. If you’re making a long journey, fill up at the beginning and don’t be tempted to ‘run on empty’.
Crucially, all drivers should ensure they have good breakdown cover to ensure they’ll receive assistance should any of these problems occur.