The car maintenance checks that could prevent a breakdown
By Bethan Harper
Driving a car isn’t as simple as jumping behind the wheel and taking to the roads (at least it certainly shouldn’t be). If you want to reduce your risks of breakdowns and in some cases even accidents, you should make sure you’re regularly performing checks on your vehicle.
Some simple checks and routine care can forestall many common causes of breakdowns. After all, it’s far less hassle to carry out a few quick checks than to have to call for roadside assistance.
Here we’ll explore the essential car maintenance checks that could prevent an inconvenient and possibly costly breakdown. Including:
- Battery life
- Tyre health
- Engine oil
- Coolant levels
- The role of motor breakdown insurance
The battery is the heart of your vehicle’s electrical system and a dead one is a leading cause of breakdowns.
Check your battery’s terminals to ensure they are clean and tightly connected. If your battery is more than three years old, it’s advisable to have it tested and replaced if necessary.
Maintaining your car battery’s health can save you from unexpected issues and help make sure you get to where you’re going without too many bumps along the road.
Tyres are your vehicle’s only contact with the road, so their condition is paramount.
Regularly check for adequate tread depth, which should be more than 1.6mm across the central three-quarters of the tyre and around its entire circumference. Also check for signs of uneven wear, which could indicate alignment or suspension issues, and maintain the correct tire pressure as indicated in your vehicle’s manual. Over or under-inflated tires can affect handling and increase the risk of punctures.
Engine oil lubricates and protects your engine. Running a car with low or dirty oil can lead to engine damage and breakdowns.
Check your oil level regularly and change it according to the manufacturer’s schedule. You should also always ensure you’re using the correct type of oil for your car, as specified by the manufacturer as this will be the most effective for your vehicle.
The coolant in your engine keeps your car from overheating. So, without enough of this liquid, you could be in hot water.
To avoid a problem, always check the coolant level in your vehicle’s expansion tank, particularly if you’re embarking on a long journey. But make sure to only do this when the engine is cold.
If you find the level is low, just top it up before taking to the roads. However, if the levels are consistently low, it could indicate a leak in the system, which needs to be addressed immediately to avoid engine damage due to overheating.
The lights on your car not only guide the way through poor weather conditions and in the dark, but they’re also essential for signalling certain manoeuvres to other drivers.
For example, your brake lights tell the drivers behind you to slow down, while your indicator lights tell other road users you’re planning to turn or pull over.
Without these signals, your journey not only becomes less safe for you but the other road users around you. And you might even be pulled over by the police and prevented from continuing your journey.
To reduce the likelihood of this, get a friend or family member to take a look at your lights while you turn them on and off.
Your car’s brakes are crucial for safety, and most modern cars have the technology to alert you to the problem if there is something wrong. However, if your car doesn’t have this technology or you want to be extra careful, there are a few things you can do to check that your brakes are in working order.
First, listen for any unusual noises when applying the brakes, and if the car pulls to one side or if the pedal feels spongy, it could indicate a problem that needs professional attention.
Also, make sure to regularly check the brake fluid level and keep it topped up to the correct level.
The role of motor breakdown insurance
Even with diligent maintenance, breakdowns can still occur. This is where motor breakdown insurance comes in.
This type of insurance provides assistance if your car breaks down due to mechanical or electrical failure, offering services such as roadside assistance, towing and even alternative transportation.
Unfortunately, no insurance can ensure you’ll never break down. But what motor breakdown insurance can do is give you the peace of mind that if you ever need roadside assistance or recovery, you’re covered.
The bottom line
Preventive maintenance is key to avoiding breakdowns and ensuring your vehicle operates safely and efficiently. By adhering to a regular maintenance schedule and paying attention to the condition of your vehicle, you can detect and address issues before they lead to a breakdown.
However, even the best-maintained vehicle can encounter unexpected problems.
Motor breakdown insurance can serve as a safety net, providing peace of mind and financial support when you need it most.
With the correct combination of careful maintenance and the right insurance coverage, you can enjoy your journey, knowing you’re prepared.