10 Most Common Causes of Car Breakdowns

10 Most Common Causes of Car Breakdowns

If you hit on a lucky streak, you can drive for tens of thousands of miles without any issues or problems. However, luck isn’t always on your side and if you drive far enough, you’ll eventually find yourself standing next to a broken down car wondering what’s wrong with it. (Although we hope that you don’t!)

At County Battery, a big part of our business is providing batteries for vehicles to get them back on the road and operating at their best.

In this article, I’m looking at the causes behind those breakdowns so I collected the 10 most common causes of car breakdowns. If you think I’ve missed anything, let me know in the comments!


#1 — Batteries (33.3%)

According to the AA, the humble car battery ranked first amongst causes of car breakdowns. To a lot of people, that might seem kinda strange. After all, don’t most cars run on petrol or diesel?

Well, yes and no. While most cars are fuelled by petrol or diesel, the battery provides the energy to get everything working at the start. If your battery dies, you won’t be able to start your car.

There are two main ways a battery can cause a breakdown. First, the battery goes flat and doesn’t have enough charge to get the car started. (Usually this happens because you’ve left your headlights on overnight.) Second, the battery just wears out. Batteries become slowly less efficient over time and will eventually stop functioning as intended.

If you’ve just discovered your battery is dead or want to upgrade a deteriorating battery before it leaves you stranded, look no further. At County Battery, we have a wide range of car and van batteries to suit every engine bay.

If you’re not overly technical and you’re not sure what you’re looking for, give our team a call or visit one of our stores. We’ll talk through your requirements and get you the perfect battery for your car, motorbike, van, lorry or classic car!


#2 — Tyres and wheels  (18.1%)

When you think about it, your tyres and wheels do a huge amount of work, supporting several tonnes of metal and gripping the road under heavy braking and acceleration.

So it’s not overly surprisingly to see both tyres and wheels appear so highly on a list of common causes of car breakdowns.

Unfortunately, there’s a whole load of ways your tyres and wheels can force you off the road, ranging from the minor (slow punctures) to the severe (cracked wheel rims).

I strongly recommend you carry a spare wheel with the tools (and knowledge) required to fit it as you’ll probably encounter a flat tyre during your motoring lives.


#3 — Misfuelling (12.1%)

According to the AA, over 130,000 people put the wrong fuel in their cars every single year. That’s 360 misfuelling mistakes every single day!

If you’ve misfuelled your car before, you’ll know how simple it is to do — and how annoyed you are with yourself afterwards.

If you notice your mistake before starting the engine, it’s usually a pretty simple job to pump the fuel out. However, if you have started the car, it’s a little bit trickier, although it’s far from terminal.


#4 — Road Traffic Accident (8.4%)

Unfortunately, road traffic accidents still cause a lot of problems on the road. While you might not class a crash as a breakdown, I thought I should include it on the list for accuracy.


#5 — Engine fault (6.3%)

Your engine is the hardest working and most intricate bit of your car so it’s not all that surprising that it’s liable to breaking down.

There’s a tonne of specific components that can fail but the most common ones include your oil pump, thermostat, cooling fan, radiator, hoses, head gasket and spark plugs.


#6 — Driver Error (6%)

Yep, you read that correctly. In 6% of breakdowns, there’s isn’t actually a problem with the car. Instead, it’s the driver doing something silly like trying to start an automatic when it’s in drive or imagining a phantom rumble.

The good news is these problems are super cheap to fix — in fact, they’re free! The bad news is that they’re a bit embarrassing.


#7 — Alternator (5.4%)

Some people think that your battery powers all the electrical systems in your car but that’s not strictly true. Your battery actually only powers the starter motor which, in turn, starts the engine. Once your car is running, your alternator generates energy to power the electrical systems and recharge the battery.

If your alternator dies, your battery can keep your car going but not for very long. Eventually, your battery will go flat and your car will roll to a stop.

Unfortunately, you can’t really maintain your alternator so faults typically appear out of the blue.


#8 — Starter motor (5.3%)

When you turn your key in the ignition, your starter motor kicks in and gets the engine turning over. If your starter motor is broken or malfunctioning, your engine simply won’t start and you’ll be stranded.


#9 — Clutch cable (5.1%)

Your clutch cable connects your clutch pedal to the actual clutch mechanism. If the cable breaks, you have no way to disengage the clutch, which makes changing gears almost impossible.

There’s usually not very much warning that your cable is about to give way so pay attention to any change in the feeling of your clutch pedal, particularly if it feels spongy or like an elastic band.


#10 — Car keys (No Figures)

Lost, damaged and stolen keys leave thousands of motorists stranded every single year. Unfortunately, the days of starting your car with a spoon handle are long gone and you’ll need an official replacement to get back on the road.


About the Author

Tom Butcher is a freelance writer who recently escaped the world of print journalism. He covers a wide range of topics, including business, motoring and digital. He is currently working with LeaseFetcher to tell the world about car leasing.

10 Most Common Causes of Car Breakdowns
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