Most common breakdowns on holiday
If you research the most common types of European breakdown, the sites you view will probably identify the same problems, but in a different order of priority.
The list below though shows the main causes of breakdown, in no particular order.
Flat or damaged tyres and wheels
An important point to remember before setting off on a European journey is to check the condition of the spare wheel (and tyre). You also need to ensure that you have a jack in the car, locking wheel nut removers. This can save a lot of time in the event of a flat tyre.
It is really important to take a spare set of car keys with you on any trip abroad. With many cars the security systems are so complex that they can only be opened and started by a specific key. Lost keys can lead to expensive recoveries to a main dealer and long delays, while the new key is delivered.
Modern batteries are maintenance free; however frequent short journeys can result in a battery running flat. If you make these frequent short trips remember to place your battery on overnight charge to help prevent breakdown and to prolong battery life. The terminals on the battery may corrode leading to poor connections which in turn will result in a drop in voltage. Terminals should be clean and covered in petroleum jelly or grease to prevent corrosion.
A frequent and very expensive mistake to make is to fill your car up with the wrong fuel. If this does happen and you realise while at the pumps do not start the car up! You need to have the car towed to a garage and drained of the incorrect fuel. The fuel also has to be disposed of which is also costly.
There are many signs that an alternator is developing a fault. Basically your battery will not recharge and once it is flat, the car will stop. As soon as you see any warning signs you need to get help. Your ignition light may stay on, the headlights may go dim, the wipers may slow right down or, in the case of a broken fan belt; the engine may start to overheat.
Car cuts out and will not start
This problem can occur at the most inconvenient of times and can be very embarrassing and at times dangerous. Every motorist dreads a breakdown on a motorway, on a busy roundabout or junction. This problem can be due to a whole number of causes ranging from fuel problems to electrical faults.
Spark plugs and HT leads
These will rarely cause a problem if your car is regularly and correctly serviced. However these items may appear fine on the outside but may well have actually deteriorated. Damp start sprays may get you home but the leads will need replacing as there will be an associated drop in voltage affecting the performance and economy of the engine.
Two of the most common problems with clutches are that the cable may snap. This has to be replaced in order to engage any gear. The clutch plate itself may be worn away, characterised by a slipping clutch, initially on steep gradients or under hard acceleration. To try and prevent excess wear on the clutch, try to remember to use the handbrake on hills and junctions to prevent the car rolling backwards, rather than using the clutch.