Car Breakdowns

By Sandyford Nov 16, 2022

If you have driven a car for any length of time, then you have probably experienced a vehicle breakdown.  Its extremely frustrating for any driver especially as more breakdowns occur during the winter months and often at the most inopportune time. When the car is full of children and shopping or when torrential rain is beating on the roof. Most breakdowns can be avoided and thanks to modern technology and improved car manufacturing, they are rare enough. But sometimes in cars, as in life, stuff just happens! The most common reasons for vehicle breakdown are as follows

Battery faults

Wheels and Tyre problems

Engines and Exhaust issues

Electrical Problems

Filling up with the wrong fuel

Lost keys and faulty alarms

Batteries either completing dying and or losing power can be an issue over the winter months. A flat battery happens for many reasons including loose terminal connection, leaving the lights on - or simply old age or a fault in the battery itself.  It may also be a problem with your car's starter motor or the alternator which recharges the battery. Batteries generally have a lifespan of 5yrs, so if yours is coming near its 5th birthday, you might be wise to have it checked. Battery problems are one of the main reasons for callouts to incapacitated Electric Vehicles.  The battery on an EV will take longer to charge in the winter months and the drain on its system from extra heating, de misting etc means that you need to recharge more often.  If you are an EV driver, keep an eye on the battery levels and if faced with failing battery, turn off the demister, the heater, the radio and keep the speed level steady to ease the usage.   

Tyre and wheel problems are the second most frequent reason for breakdown assistance call outs. Punctures can happen when you hit a kerb or a pothole, or if you run over a sharp object. There can be issues with pressure if you have a faulty valve or worn tyre tread. Avoid tyre failure by keeping a regular watch on the tyre pressures and the tread conditions. Fixing it on the side of the road may not be an option. New cars don’t always come with a spare wheel. Even if a spare tyre is available, the wheel nuts can often be impossible to budge, and assistance may be needed. If you have a spare tyre, make sure it’s in the same good condition as the other four, and that your jack and any locking wheel nut keys are stored safely and ready for use.

Engines and Exhaust (DPF filters) refers to the multitude of things that can go wrong with a car. This can include faults with alternators, starting motors, cylinder head gasket, timing belt, oil pump failure, oil leaks and ageing spark plugs, plus faulty fuel, and ignition systems. A faulty DPF filter can also cause an unscheduled stop and an emergency call out. Regular servicing and an improvement in cars themselves, plus the addition of warning sensors has greatly reduced the amount of car breakdowns, but when you consider the number of working parts on any car, you realise how much scope there is for things to go wrong. 

Electrical problems are among the most frustrating reasons for a vehicle breakdown, mainly because the problem might not always be obvious, and it may be necessary to have a technician carry out a fault diagnosis.  This means hooking up to the car's onboard computer (the electronic control unit, or ECU) to read error the code. It may be as simple as an interior or exterior bulb failure or a faulty starter motor or even an issue with the control unit itself. With the technological advancement in cars, more breakdowns related to electrical issues are likely to occur but sourcing the issue and dealing with it quickly may well prevent more serious damage to the car.


Calling breakdown assist when you have put the wrong fuel in your car is embarrassing, but absolutely essential. You are in good company, as over 1,000 motorists a year call the AA breakdown service alone, to report this mistake. Even though the nozzle probably did not even feel right when they were at the forecourt, but it went in and so did the incorrect fuel.  If the car has not been driven, there is probably no damage to the engine.  But if you find yourself stopped on the road because of petrol in diesel or diesel in a petrol engine, expert help is required. The fuel will need to be drained and corrective additives used to clean the system. The correct fuel will then be put into the car, but you will need to go to a garage to make sure there is no lasting damage to the vehicle.

Losing your car keys can be a very serious issue.  Standing in the car park, locked out of your car on a wild wintry day is no fun. It is even more serious as our keys have become more advanced and are chipped to prevent theft and for more security. If you are shivering in the wind, this is not the time to say that its good to have a spare key accessible to friend or family. but it is! Faulty car alarms are annoying for you and your neighbours. If a car alarm keeps going off randomly it might be due to its movement sensor malfunctioning or being incorrectly set. The alarm can go off if the car has a low battery or even a faulty hood latch sensor or an incorrectly installed car alarm. Your emergency rescue technician will assist in silencing it, until you get it looked at and hopefully before the neighbours find their pitchforks and get organised.


A Breakdown Kit

Now that we have frightened you with the list of things that can go wrong, you might want to consider preparing for the rare and unlikely event of a breakdown.   If you don’t already have one, you can put together a breakdown kit.  This can have some essential items and some comfort items to be appreciated by you and your passengers as you wait for the welcome lights of the breakdown truck.

Warning Triangles.

High vis jacket

Rain Gear

Battery booster pack


Tyre inflation pack: An aerosol can that contains a foam which re-inflates the tyre and acts as a sealant. Preferably, choose one with a water-based foam that can be flushed out after use and doesn't damage the tyre.)



Spare tyre/unlocking nuts/jack

Bottled water



Your insurance policy may cover your for-Breakdown Assistance, but it does not come as standard with all policies.  Some breakdown cover comes with the purchase of new and used cars and you can check with your motor dealer in relation to this question.  And there is always the reassurance of paying one of the more well-known rescues services, like the AA, to give you that added peace of mind.  Breaking down is a rare happening but as always, it is good to be prepared with your breakdown kit and a handy rescue phone number.  Reduce your chance of breaking down by getting the car regularly serviced, paying attention to the wheels, tyres and batteries and by driving safely and wisely.   As always, we are here at Sandyford Motor Centre to assist with any queries you have about breakdown assistance and avoiding that wait at the side of the road.  

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