Reasons why your car could breakdown, and what to do

There can be many reasons why your car could breakdown. Knowing about them and their fixes can come in handy, especially if you want to keep your “motor happy” rather than being stranded in the middle of nowhere. 

Here are some of the most common causes of a car breakdown that can lead to a mechanical breakdown along with possible solutions: 

This is perhaps one of the most commonly encountered issues when out on the road. As the part of the car that is directly in contact with the road, the tyres undergo a lot of wear and tear. They also have to bear the weight of the car and its occupants. It is also quite often the most overlooked part of the car as well. While a full tyre blowout is hard to miss, tyre damage can actually be detected a lot earlier than a violent blowout. 

A visual inspection is the first step towards checking for issues with the tyre. Look at the tread depth. Then see if any of the tyres aren't properly inflated compared to the others and finally look for sharp objects like nails embedded into the tyres. If everything is clear, then use a pressure gauge to determine the air pressure. Don’t forget about the spare tyre! Sometimes, issues can creep up mid-drive. If the car starts to wobble suddenly or there is some excessive noise from one of the wheels, then stop immediately and check the tyres.

The alternator is the generator of the car. It uses the engine power to charge the battery when the car is running. If the alternator starts malfunctioning, then the battery will get discharged quickly. The first sign of this is the sudden loss of power and the battery warning light coming on. This happens because the battery starts losing more power than it is receiving. Another sign is the screeching noise of the alternator belt not turning properly. In either case, there is little you can do and the wise thing to do is get the car checked by a professional at the first sign of any of these issues we mentioned. 

This can be one of the most catastrophic things you could encounter when out on the road. The great news again is that you don’t have to wait until the brakes fail completely to do something about it. Keep an eye out for all the little signs that lead to full failure. 

The first and most obvious sign would be the increase in both the stopping distance as well as the brake pedal travel. If you suddenly find yourself having to press the pedal harder to get the same amount of stopping power then it means that there could be an issue with the hydraulic part of the brakes such as a leak or a clog. This can only be fixed by a professional. 

Another problem you could encounter is a high-pitched noise when braking. This indicates a worn-out brake pad and is quite easy to fix at a mechanic. Finally, the car could start pulling to one side under braking which is a telltale sign of brake imbalance and can again be fixed by a qualified professional.

Spark plug issues are rare and only occur when servicing is not done regularly or the car has been left in the garage for too long. (Sign up for a cost-effective Service Plan through MotorHappy to help ensure you never miss a service again!) Very occasionally, a manufacturing defect can also create issues. Spark plugs that have gone bad will result in trouble starting the engine, misfiring when idle, lack of power, and high fuel consumption. If you notice some or all these symptoms then get the spark plug checked. It is quite easy and relatively cheap to get it checked and replaced. You can do it by yourself. Just ensure that the car isn’t running as you could be greeted with a nasty shock.

The clutch is an integral part of any car and trouble with the clutch can make the car pretty much undrivable. The signs to look out for here are difficulty in changing gears, loud noise when changing gears or when the clutch is engaged, burning smell, and the car's inability to stop moving on a level surface even when the clutch is fully engaged. As you would have guessed, a clutch isn't something you can fix by yourself so get the help of a professional as soon as any of these symptoms are manifested. An overheating clutch can even lead to a fire and that is why it is very important to nip any issues with the clutch right at the root. Sometimes these same symptoms can be a result of transmission failure and that is why it’s very important to consult a qualified professional.