The symptoms to look out for and what’s causing the problems
1) Car won’t start
Electrical or Ignition problems are usually behind why your car won’t start, 90% of the time it’s the battery but if not it could be the alternator or in a diesel car – the glow plugs. Firstly check with a tester which will tell you if the battery needs charging or replacing or if it’s the alternator. If you’ve got a diesel and the car is turning over but not starting or starting but after longer than usual then that will be your glow plugs.
2) Steam coming from the bonnet
If your engine is overheating it is usually down to a lack of coolant, alternatively it could be a faulty thermostat or water pump or worse the head gasket. If the dreaded steam pours out from under the bonnet, stop, let the engine cool down (for at least 30 minutes) top up your coolants and if there’s still a problem investigate or get a garage to.
3) Loss of drivability and intense vibrations
You cannot miss a failing drive shaft as it will cause intense vibrations along with strange noises from under the car. Spot it before it goes - if your drive shaft is on the way out you will hear a knocking noise when you’re on full lock.
4) Whirring and vibrations under the car
You’ll know it’s time for a new clutch kit when you hear a whirring and feel vibrations as the clutch pedal goes up and down. Your car could also slip through gears and the tell tale sign is if you increase revs but the speed isn’t affected. Whilst this won’t stop the car it does need investigating ASAP before it causes further damage.
5) A big problem
If your timing belt goes it will stop you in your tracks, unfortunately it will also undoubtedly cause knock on damage in the engine, especially if it goes when travelling at a high speed.
Whilst some cars carry spare tyres and you can opt for a road side tyre change that throws up its own problems with alloy wheels, undoing garage tightened wheel nuts and more, nowadays there are some wonder products such as Michelin tyre sealant which re-inflates tyres and provides a temporary puncture repair.
7) Clunking and banging from under the car
A clunk and a bang especially when going over bumps are typical signals that you’ve got suspension and steering problems, and it could be a number of parts from springs to ball joints, shockers or drop links. It can be dangerous to drive with any of these problems and can lead to more damage so stop and check ASAP.
8) Running out of fuel
We don’t wish to state the painfully obvious but running out of fuel accounts for over 10% of breakdowns on the roads each year, so don’t risk it...its just embarrassing!