Common Causes of Car Breakdowns and How to Prevent Them

In our fast-paced world, a car breakdown can be one of the most frustrating and inconvenient experiences. At Angel on Wheels, we understand the stress and potential safety hazards that come with car breakdowns, which is why we’re dedicated to providing towing and roadside assistance. While we’re always ready to help you when you’re in a tight spot, it’s important to know that many car breakdowns can be prevented with proper maintenance and a little know-how. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into the most common causes of car breakdowns and offer detailed tips on how to prevent them.

  1. Flat or Blown-Out Tires

Flat or blown-out tires are one of the leading causes of car breakdowns. Punctures from sharp objects on the road, low tire pressure, or worn-out treads can all lead to this issue. To prevent it:

Regular Tire Maintenance: Begin by regularly checking your tire pressure. You can find the recommended pressure in your car’s manual or on the sticker inside the driver’s door. Underinflated tires can lead to blowouts and decreased fuel efficiency, while overinflated tires can result in a harsh ride and reduced traction.

Tire Inspection: Inspect your tires for signs of wear and tear. Worn-out treads can reduce traction and increase the risk of a blowout. Look for bulges, cuts, and embedded objects in the tire as well. If you notice any of these issues, it’s time to replace your tire.

Carry the Right Equipment: Carry a spare tire, jack, and tire-changing tools in your car. Ensure that the spare tire is in good condition and properly inflated. Familiarize yourself with the process of changing a tire so you can do it safely in case of an emergency.

  1. Dead Battery

A dead battery can leave you stranded with no power to start your vehicle. To avoid this issue:

Battery Maintenance: Ensure your battery is in good condition by having it tested regularly. Most batteries have a lifespan of 3 to 5 years. If your battery is older or shows signs of weakness, replace it to avoid a sudden failure.

Power Management: Turn off all lights and electronics when your car is not running. Leaving your headlights, interior lights, or radio on when the engine is off can drain the battery. If you frequently make short trips, use a battery charger or maintainer to keep your battery in good shape.

Carry Jumper Cables or a Portable Jump Starter: Consider carrying jumper cables or a portable jump starter in your car. This way, you can jump-start your car if the battery dies, and there’s no one around to help.

  1. Overheating

Overheating can cause serious engine damage and leave you stranded on the side of the road. Prevent overheating by:

Coolant Maintenance: Regularly check and top up your coolant levels. Your car’s engine needs a proper mix of water and antifreeze (coolant) to maintain the right temperature. Check your owner’s manual for the correct type of coolant and the recommended mixture.

Radiator and Cooling System Inspection: Ensure your radiator and cooling system are free from leaks and debris. Periodically inspect the radiator and its hoses for signs of damage or leakage. Also, clean any debris, leaves, or bugs from the radiator’s fins to maintain proper airflow.

Watch Your Engine Temperature Gauge: Pay attention to your engine temperature gauge. If it starts to overheat, pull over safely and turn off the engine. Overheating can lead to serious engine damage, so it’s essential to address it promptly.

  1. Running Out of Fuel

Running out of gas may seem like an obvious issue to avoid, but it still happens to many drivers. To prevent this:

Monitor Your Fuel Gauge: Keep an eye on your fuel gauge and refuel before it gets too low. Driving on an empty tank can lead to fuel pump damage and, in some cases, contamination of the fuel system.

Plan Ahead for Longer Trips: When planning longer trips, calculate your fuel needs. Consider the distance, terrain, and your vehicle’s fuel efficiency. It’s always a good idea to carry spare gas containers for emergencies.

  1. Ignition and Starter Problems

Issues with your car’s ignition or starter can leave you unable to start your vehicle. Prevent this by:

Regular Maintenance: Get your ignition system and starter motor checked during routine maintenance. Ignition system components, such as spark plugs and ignition coils, have a limited lifespan and should be replaced according to your car’s maintenance schedule.

Keep Your Keys and Ignition Clean: Maintaining your keys and ignition is essential. Keep your keys clean and free from debris, which can affect the ignition switch’s performance.

  1. Faulty Alternator

The alternator is responsible for charging your car’s battery and providing power to the electrical system. If it fails, your battery can drain, and your vehicle can stall. To prevent alternator failure:

Routine Testing: Have your alternator tested during regular maintenance or if you notice symptoms like dimming headlights, a warning light on the dashboard, or difficulty starting the car.

Address Electrical Issues Promptly: Any issues with your car’s electrical system should be addressed promptly. Ignoring warning signs can lead to alternator failure and other electrical problems.

  1. Fuel System Problems

Clogged fuel filters, a malfunctioning fuel pump, or contaminated fuel can all lead to breakdowns. Prevent these issues by:

Fuel Filter Replacement: Replace fuel filters according to your car’s maintenance schedule. A clogged fuel filter can impede fuel flow to the engine, leading to poor performance and potential breakdowns.

Use Reputable Gas Stations: Only refuel at reputable gas stations. Low-quality or contaminated fuel can harm your fuel system and engine.

  1. Transmission Issues

Transmission problems can render your car undriveable and are often costly to repair. To prevent these issues:

Transmission Fluid Maintenance: Follow your manufacturer’s recommendations for transmission fluid changes. Fresh transmission fluid helps ensure smooth shifting and prevents overheating.

Pay Attention to Warning Signs: Pay attention to unusual noises, vibrations, or delays in shifting gears. These can be early signs of transmission issues. Address them promptly to prevent a complete transmission breakdown.


While we’re always here to provide towing and roadside assistance at Angel on Wheels, the best way to deal with a car breakdown is to prevent it from happening in the first place. By following these detailed tips and staying on top of your vehicle’s maintenance, you can significantly reduce the risk of a car breakdown. Safe and happy travels! Remember, regular maintenance and attention to your vehicle’s needs will go a long way in ensuring you stay on the road and avoid unexpected breakdowns.

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