Prevent Your Car From Breaking Down

(May 24, 2012) As summer is approaching, you should keep these tips in mind, so you can be assured that your car doesn’t break down.

The Automotive Research Center (ARC) at The Automobile Club of Southern California recently released a study for the most common reasons AAA members call for Roadside Assistance, which resulted in a two or repair. This study didn’t involve simple tire changes or jumping batteries, rather, 6,466 breakdowns that required bringing the stranded vehicle back to the shop. And avoiding your car becoming another statistic is really simple; in fact, you don’t need to know anything about cars to avoid calling for a tow.

The first step is to open up your owner’s manual to see the predetermined maintenance schedules of your vehicle. Change the oil and filter at the proper intervals, as well as following the lists that say “Inspect,” as in “Inspect and adjust all fluid levels” and “Inspect radiator and condenser.”

Monitor Your Fuel Levels:

Next, do not let your fuel level fall below one-eighth full. In fact, I was always taught that the tank should never be below a quarter full, just in case you get stuck in a major traffic delay from a serious accident or something of the sort. The fuel pump resides inside the tank and is cooled by surrounding fuel, so too little fuel can overheat the pump, causing it to fail. In addition, low fuel can lead to crud clogging your fuel filter and shutting your engine down.

Check Your Battery’s Charge:

Your battery should be tested once or twice a year if it is at least three years old. The AAA Mobile Battery Service technicians provide state-of-the-art assessments, and can replace a battery on the spot. Dying batteries aren’t always easy to detect, but if your engine is slow to turn over, or there is a clicking when you turn the key, it may be time to get a new battery.

However, before you run to replace your car battery, make sure it’s the battery that is the actual problem, and not something linked to the alternator. This is important because when the alternator fails, the battery gets discharged, making it seem like the battery is dead.

Coolant Leaking?:

If you see coolant on your driveway, or the “Temp” light is glowing on your dashboard, it may be too late, as the problem could be a leaking hose, corroded radiator, or something else.

Of the most common breakdowns in the AAA survey, this is how the results broke out:

543 Fuel Pump
347 Alternators
308 Battery
277 Starter
216 Radiator
194 Transmission
168 Hoses

Don’t become another statistic!

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