Car breakdowns are the worst. It’s horrible to have big plans that get ruined, because you got stranded. The good news? Drivers with auto awareness can prevent most of these problems. Here are six common reasons why cars break down (and what to do about them).
1. Your battery died.
Batteries don’t have an unlimited lifespan. At best, they’ll last for five years or so. I suggest getting yours replaced in three or four years (just to be safe).
Here’s another idea. If you know it’s been about five years since you bought a battery – or you accidentally left your interior lights on and notice they’re dimmer than usual – get a test done.
Some auto shops will provide a free battery test to drivers who are investing in other services. It doesn’t hurt to ask. If your battery is reaching the end of its life, it’s better to know now… otherwise, you might break down at the most inconvenient time or place possible.
2. You locked your keys inside.
This doesn’t describe a “car breakdown” in the traditional sense. Your engine is A-okay!
That said, locking your keys inside still counts, because it puts you in a position where you can’t go anywhere before you get help from a third party.
These situations are more common than you might think. AAA receives about 4,000,000 calls from drivers locked outside of their vehicle on an annual basis.
It happens to everybody a time or two. If you want to prevent this situation, get a spare copy of your key and keep it inside your purse (or give it to a close friend or family member).
3. You let your tires get beaten up.
Tires can’t function at their best without your care and attention. The next time you get inside your car, look for the tire sticker on your door jamb (surface between your door and car seat).
It contains important information such as the proper tire inflation. If your tires aren’t properly inflated, they won’t last as long, and then you’ll have to buy new ones sooner than necessary.
Fail to replace your tires on time – or notice they need to be replaced at all (hint: keep an eye open for cracks, tears, or holes in the tread) – and you might set yourself up for a tire blowout.
Tire blowouts are awful. It’s horrifying to lose control of your car (especially at a high speed). Lucky for you, it’s easy to prevent this. Keep your tires inflated, check the tread on occasion, and you’ll be good-to-go.
4. Your engine overheated.
Have you ever broke down in a desert? I don’t recommend it. You’ll get so tired and thirsty that you’ll see mirages everywhere. “Who the heck opened a casino out here? Weird…”
Overheating is especially common in summer and winter, because hot and cold temperatures place tremendous stress on your engine. Make sure to keep some antifreeze in your trunk, because that should give your car enough juice to reach a friendly neighborhood auto shop.
5. Your gas tank is empty.
There’s no excuse for this one. If you fail to refuel before you run out of gas, that’s your own fault.
Don’t push your gas tank to its limit. Get in the habit of swinging by a gas station as soon as you hit a quarter tank just to be safe.
Note: this is especially important when you’re traveling in an unfamiliar area. In some parts of the country, there are forty miles or more between gas stations. Act now or regret it later!
Share this article with your friends, because they want to know why cars break down (and how to prevent that from happening), too.