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The 10 Most Common Causes of Breakdown

Car breakdown is a nightmare that every motorist dreads, and statistically, it is an experience that is likely to occur at least once in a driver’s lifetime.

Contrary to popular belief, breakdowns are not just common among older vehicles.

In fact, owners of older vehicles tend to anticipate potential danger; and therefore, have their cars checked regularly. For new cars, drivers assume every part functions fully, and this makes it difficult to notice problems in good time. Understand that breakdowns don’t just affect older vehicles or only result from lack of proper maintenance, but can occur due to environmental factors or mistakes made on a daily basis. So, what are the 10 most common car breakdown causes?



A common cause of breakdown is linked to fuelling problems, yet it is the easiest to prevent. Most people forget to refuel, and others only notice the red light flashing when it is too late. The other is filling the car with the wrong fuel. Putting petrol in a diesel car, for instance, is a serious mistake that can cause havoc and lead to extensive engine damage. The moment you notice filling your car with the wrong fuel, do not start the engine. To avoid repeating the mistake, it is advisable to invest in special cups and fix them on the filler neck for the right fuel nozzle.

Flat Battery

This is a major cause of roadside callouts. Drivers who use their cars for short, frequent trips are in fact at a higher risk of this problem. This is because short trips do not give the battery enough time to recharge. To ensure you are fully charged, invest in an intelligent charger to connect to the battery for long periods. Leaving your headlights running at night also drains your battery.

Alternator Faults

Experiencing persistent battery problems? Are your headlights also dimming when the engine is idle? If so, your alternator could be having a fault. When the temperature of the engine rises rapidly, and the ignition warning light comes on, it could mean the alternator driving belt and the water pump may be broken. Once the alternator stops working, the battery does not charge well, and the engine is likely to cut out.

Change of the Clutch Cables

The clutch cable is part of a vehicle that is often exposed to a lot of stress. Should it break, that can be a serious problem. The moment you notice changes in the feel of the clutch when the peddle is pressed, have it checked immediately.

HT Leads

High-tension leads transport large amounts of voltage to the spark plugs, and tend to get worse with age, making it difficult for a car to start. If you are having trouble starting your car, have your ignition system checked.

Electrical Problems


Electrical faults are becoming common today, especially with the increase of complex controls and switches in vehicles. They can, at times, be fixed by changing the battery, but when the issue is detected on the onboard computer, the mechanic may have to identify the cause of the problem by plugging their PC into your car.

Air Conditioning

Overheating is a major cause of breakdowns, especially in summer. Always check your coolant level to avoid overheating or have your mechanic check the system. The coolant should also have enough anti-freeze.

Wheel Change

Punctures are known to occur even at the lowest mileage, and even the most modern cars are not immune. Checking your tyre’s condition is important since uneven wear can mean they are incorrectly aligned. Bulges and cracks are signs that you need to change your wheels.

Mechanical problems


These cover serious engine problems, and they include doggy cylinder heads and seizures. With the large collection of engines today, it can be difficult to generalise faults. You can only tell them apart by having regular check-ups to have your car running efficiently.

Distributor Cap Failure

This is a very sensitive part of your car that must be checked regularly to ensure it is in the right condition. The slightest crack in it is enough to cause leakage. A faulty distributor cap may produce symptoms such as engine misfires, the car may fail to start, the check engine light comes on and excessive engine noise.