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Coping With A Breakdown

By raccars Published

Even the most carefully maintained of cars can occasionally suffer from a breakdown. If the cause is serious you will need professional help, but in many cases, the reason for the breakdown is simple and fairly easily remedied. Don't find yourself stranded, helpless, at the side of the road. Make sure you are prepared for the usual suspects:

Flat Battery

Culprit number one strikes most commonly in winter months. In the cold, your battery has to work harder than usual to power heaters, windscreen wipers, de-misting equipment and lights. Furthermore, in the cold we use our cars more for shorter journeys, which we might usually make on foot, which means the battery is regularly drained without the chance to fully recharge. To avoid breakdowns, check your battery's condition before the winter arrives and regularly during the cold season. If it's not up to scratch, replace it. Don't use lights, heaters or other electrical equipment unless you really need it and make sure everything is switched off before you leave your car. Keep a set of jump leads available in case the worst should happen.

Engine Freezing

Culprit number two can occur during winter if you do not make sure your car has adequate supplies of anti-freeze. There's no short way to remedy this one – the seized engine will need to defrost fully before you can use it (having topped up with anti-freeze first!). Maintenance is the key here: check anti-freeze levels regularly along with other engine liquids.

Engine Flooding

In recent years, England has experienced unprecedented levels of urban flooding. Even the drivers of elevated 4x4s need to be aware of the risks of driving through water. If you attempt to drive through floods deep enough to enter your car's air intake, water will enter the engine and stall it. If you have any doubt that your air intake will be above the water level, do not attempt to negotiate standing water. Should you make it through, test your brakes thoroughly.

Locked Out

Another hazard of winter, being locked out, happens when your car's remote control immobiliser signal fails to negotiate a layer of snow or ice. This is more likely to happen if your key fob's batteries are low on power. Aside from remembering to change the batteries regularly, make sure you know the PIN for your security system to be able to order a replacement quickly and easily – otherwise you'll have to replace the whole system at a cost of £150 upwards.

In effect, on all these occasions, it pays to behave like a boy scout: be prepared.

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