The Top 10 Reasons Why Cars Break Down

The Top 10 Reasons Why Cars Break Down

Although car breakdowns are generally more common during the cold winter months, they may occur at any time of the year for a number of reasons. Generally speaking, a breakdown can be expected at some point during the natural life cycle of any vehicle.

Common Breakdown Causes

1. Battery

A flat or faulty battery is one of the most common causes of vehicle breakdown and may be the result of an electrical fault, or too many regular short journeys leaving the battery with insufficient time to charge. Batteries are especially prone to failure during cold snaps in the winter.

2. Alternator Faults

Part of the vehicle’s charging system, the alternator plays a critical role in the operation of any vehicle. It is responsible for supplying electrical power to operate the lights, heating, sound system and ignition, as well as recharging the vehicle’s battery when the engine is running. If there is a problem with the alternator, the headlights and dashboard lights may begin to dim and the vehicle’s engine could fail to start.

3. Tyre Problems

Flat tyres or a blow outs are often caused by driving over sharp objects such as a nail or glass, or by driving over a deep pothole, it may also be a result of the general condition of your tyres.

To avoid being stuck at the side of the road changing a wheel, never drive over any debris or potholes. It is a good idea to regularly check the condition of your tyres – this should include checking for any signs of uneven wear due to poor wheel alignment as well as the pressure and tread depth.

If you do carry a spare tyre, make sure it is in useable condition, and when using a tyre repair kit, be sure to follow the instructions carefully for your own safety and that of any other passengers.

4. Keys

Always ensure there is a set of replacement keys or key fob in the case of keyless entry systems, replacement sets can be extremely costly and are usually only available through main dealers.

5. Running Out of Fuel

A surprisingly large number of people get stranded due to insufficient fuel – be sure to make sure you have adequate fuel for your journey and fill up before the low fuel warning light comes on.

6. Filling Up with The Wrong Type Of Fuel

Putting the wrong type of fuel in your vehicle can also cause a breakdown – if you do happen to fill up with the wrong type of fuel and realise you have done so, do not start the engine. Roll it away from the pump and find an assistant to help drain the engine.

7. Electrical Issues

Electrical faults are on the increase as electrical systems become ever more complex – these are often difficult to diagnose, however anything unusual should be well checked out, before it causes a breakdown.

8. Clutch Cables

If the clutch cable breaks, you will not be able to disengage the clutch – this can cause a serious problem.

Signs that there may be an issue with the clutch include:

  • A change to the way the clutch feels when you press the pedal
  • The gears appear to grind when changing gears
  • The clutch pedal appears to be higher than usual when in a resting position

9. Starter Motor

Most cars manage thousands of miles without any issues with the starter motor – as they are usually extremely robust, they will however eventually fail, and if this is not identified during a service, it can result in a breakdown and costly repairs.

10. HT Leads and Spark Plugs

Spark plugs and HT (high tension) leads can break and will eventually wear out over long term use causing the vehicle not to start. This type of issue can usually be avoided with regular maintenance.

Preventative Measures


The best way to avoid any sort of breakdown is through servicing and maintenance – keeping your vehicle in tip top shape all year around.

Breakdown Cover

This is essential for every vehicle, there is nothing worse than being stranded by the side of a road, far from home with no breakdown cover.