Breaking down is a nightmare, and it always seems to happen at the most inconvenient times, too!
You should always check that you’re covered if this happens, whether that’s through your car insurer, independently by a recovery service or other means like your bank.
Do you have the right breakdown cover?
Do you have doorstep cover? This is when you’re covered, even if you break down at home. It might seem like an extra cost, but you’ll thank yourself when your car doesn’t start one cold winter morning. At drive like a girl we offer three levels of breakdown cover so you can add the most suitable level of protection to your telematics policy.
What are the most common breakdown causes?
If you take good care of your car, it will take good care of you. It’s extremely important to keep your car in a good condition and know how to do your maintenance checks – but sometimes, you can do everything right and still find yourself in a pickle on the side of a road.
We made a list of the most common reasons why cars break down. Read through these examples and our tips to help you spot the problems before it’s too late.
Flat or faulty battery
Do you tend to sit in the car listening to music whilst waiting for someone, or keep the car heating at a maximum on cold days? Maybe don’t. Battery faults are the most common cause of breakdowns, especially in the winter. Keeping electrics on drains the battery of power so you should always turn everything off when parking up.
Frequent short journeys also drain the battery, as it won’t have time to charge sufficiently. If you’ve not driven your car for a couple of weeks, turn it on and let it run for 10 minutes to avoid the battery from going flat. You can pick up a modern battery charger and conditioner at any reputable car maintenance retailer.
Whether it’s house keys, your bicycle or car keys, they can be so easy to lose! There are things like whistling key rings and other attempts at helping with this inconvenience but the real solution is making two copies of your car keys. It’s a little pricey but will be worth it.
Keep your spare key somewhere safe and convenient. There’s no point leaving a key with your parents in Leeds if you live in London! With drive like a girl you can get Key Cover added to your policy; this will alleviate up to £1,500 of costs, also covering any household keys that were on the fob.
We’ve all been there – staring at the flashing fuel light on the dashboard, hoping we’ll make it to the next petrol station because we “just forgot”. Most of us don’t realise the consequences that running out of petrol can have.
It’s dangerous; the car depends on fuel to function so should that run out, everything stops. Steering will be difficult and your breaks will harden up, which can be fatal. It’s also very bad for the engine – running out of fuel forces the fuel pipe to suck up the sediment that sits at the bottom of your fuel tank. It then pushes this around your system and blocks it.
So don’t forget to keep an eye on your petrol levels. You should also know what to do if you put the wrong fuel in. At drive like a girl we provide misfuelling cover to all our customers; we’ll pay up to £250 to clean the necessary parts or repair any damage.
The alternator is one of the mechanisms that powers the electrics in your car. It’s actually what keeps your battery charged and gives the car its power to keep running. So your battery failure could actually be your alternator.
In fact, if the battery-shaped light appears on your dashboard, most often it’s because of the alternator. Similarly, if your battery suddenly runs out even though you’ve recently charged it, it could’ve been compensating for the alternator.
Check your tyres regularly; do the 20p test and check the pressures. Under-inflated tyres can cause them to overheat, and one tyre being out of balance distracts your steering.
If you hit the pavement or a pothole very hard, or notice your pressure might be going down, don’t keep driving on it; find the nearest garage.
Be wary of how you treat your clutch; if the cable breaks, you’ll have a serious problem. If you notice your clutch feels weird when you press the pedal, go and get it checked as soon as possible.