A car is a vital part of many people’s working and social lives, despite the fact that the cost of keeping a car seems to be going up all the time.
With petrol prices still high, and the cost of car insurance steadily rising, motorists are shelling out more than ever to keep their car on the road. Despite the rising costs, for many people the need for a car is simply not going to disappear. The challenge for drivers now is to try and keep costs down wherever they can.
Preventing a breakdown scenario
This can be easier said than done, especially if you use your car regularly. But one area where it is possible to save money is with your car’s maintenance.
A breakdown can happen at any point, no matter what type of car you have. In order to try and avoid any scary motorway breakdown situations and keep your car running smoothly for as long as possible, there are certain steps you can take.
There are steps you can take to reduce the chances of breaking down in the first place:
Step 1 - One good way to reduce the risk of breakdown is to take your car for a regular check-up at a garage. This doesn’t necessarily have to be once a month, but at least twice a year is the best plan to prevent problems before they occur. While many motorists will perform their own checks on their car, a mechanic will be able to get a better look underneath the vehicle and perhaps spot things that others would not.
Step 2 - It is also a good idea to be aware of any different noises coming from your car, or any changes in the way it drives or handles. These could turn out to be nothing, but it is a good idea to investigate as any problem left untreated will only get worse – costing you even more in repairs.
Step 3 - It can be beneficial to take your car for a professional check-up more often than the MOT requires, but there are a number of measures which you yourself can take to keep your car healthy. One of the most important of these is to keep the various fluids your car needs topped up. Everything from engine oil to brake fluid, coolant to antifreeze, should all be maintained and checked regularly.
Engine oil should ideally be checked about once every two weeks, or before any long drive. Not only will this keep your engine healthy, but you’ll also be able to identify unusual oil consumption.
A high level of oil consumption could mean there is a problem with your engine, so checking regularly will help prevent the problem developing further.
Other checks, such as engine coolant, brake fluid, power-steering fluid and antifreeze should all be checked regularly and topped up when needed. When it comes to the winter months, antifreeze and screenwash should be monitored closely.
Step 4 - Before it gets too cold, it is a good idea to check the concentration of the antifreeze, while using a good screenwash additive will prevent freezing.
Step 5 - One final preparation you might want to make is with your car’s tyres. These are a vital part of any vehicle, and it can be dangerous if they are damaged or the tread is low. It is a good idea to check the pressure of your tyres regularly, if the pressure is wrong they can become damaged very quickly.
Obtaining the correct tread on your car’s tyres is also important, as well as being a legal requirement. You can refer to your car’s handbook for further details and guidelines.
Preparing for a vehicle breakdown
Despite our best efforts, breakdowns can still happen to the best of cars. So it is also a good idea to be prepared for the situation.
Aside from the inconvenience, a breakdown can be quite a scary experience – especially on a motorway or a busy road. But there are steps you can take to remain in control of the situation and stay safe:
Even if you think your car won’t break down any time soon, it may be a good idea to keep certain items in your car just in case. The key items to alert other drivers to your presence and assist you most effectively in such a situation include:
- A warning triangle
- High visibility jacket
- A torch
One of the best ways to be prepared for a breakdown could involve taking out car breakdown cover. Unlike car insurance, breakdown cover is not a legal requirement. But it can turn out to be a useful type of cover to have.
There are a number of different breakdown policies available, which offer different levels of cover.
Basic policies will offer roadside assistance and recovery, with other policies offering additional cover such as home start, onward journeys and even accommodation if you are stranded, for a higher annual fee.Back to top