WhoCanFixMyCar explains how to identify the signs that a breakdown is imminent.
Most breakdowns are preceded by warning signs and can sometimes be prevented by knowing which red flags to look for. That's where this guide comes in.
Battery damage or corrosion
If you can see green powder around the battery or signs of corrosion around the terminals, follow the advice in this guide to change it before it causes a breakdown.
When your battery is on its way out, you should be able to notice the signs beforehand. For example, your car may:
Lumps of thick oil on the dipstick
Oil loses its lubricating properties over time, which can cause engine damage. Similarly, when the filter is old, it allows dirt to circulate around the engine, causing corrosion.
It's possible to do an oil change at home with the right tools and know-how, but this isn't something you should attempt unless you feel confident. Find out how to do it in this guide. Alternatively, book an oil change at a local garage.
Metal flakes in the oil
As oil circulates around the engine, it can pick up metal shavings or flakes from components as they wear down, especially in older cars. The oil filter is designed to catch these flakes. However, if you've noticed a significant number of them in your oil, it's probably time to replace the filter.
Green or blue puddles under the car
Colourful puddles under your car indicate a coolant leak. Topping up coolant is easy enough - make sure that if you buy concentrated coolant, you dilute it as per the instructions on the bottle - but this is only a short-term fix and isn't advisable if the leak is major.
If the coolant reservoir is empty and the leak seems severe, it's best to avoid driving your car (even if you top it up) until the problem has been fixed. Driving a vehicle with low or no coolant can cause severe damage to the engine due to overheating. In this instance, search for a mobile mechanic.
Unevenly worn tyre tread
Other symptoms of misaligned wheels include:
Dashboard warning lights
A yellow light is less urgent than a red light. However, ignoring any warning light is not a good idea, regardless of its colour, and could lead to a breakdown.
Unusual noises often suggest there is an underlying problem. For example, you might hear:
A smoking bonnet means the car is overheating.
The exhaust emitting blue smoke means that oil has entered the fuel supply, affecting your car’s capability to run cleanly.
White smoke from the exhaust suggests that water or antifreeze has entered the fuel supply.
Dark or smelly smoke from the exhaust indicates an incorrect air-fuel ratio.
Think your car is on the brink of a breakdown? Whatever the problem, use the UK's most trusted garage network to find an affordable repair.
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