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Breakdowns – Let’s take a look at some of the common reasons

Thu 25 Jun 2020

Vehicle breakdowns can occur literally on any day of the week, or hour of the day to any owner of any car. Of course, there is never a good time to have a breakdown, but we share some of the most common reasons for a breakdown and what you can do in some cases, to prevent them.


Perhaps the most common cause of a breakdown is a flat or faulty battery. It could happen for a variety of reasons such as a faulty or old battery or simply that you don’t go on enough longer journeys where the battery gets a longer charge.

Charging the battery overnight every so often may help and it’s worth remembering that batteries don’t last for ever and you may need to replace every couple of years.


The alternator recharges the battery using power from the engine and also provides power to the car’s electrical components.

Unfortunately there is no way to maintain an alternator but warning signs to look out for include a flickering battery warning light, dimmed headlights and potentially slower than normal windscreen wipers.

Starter Motor

The starter motor uses electricity from the battery to turn and start the engine when the car ignition is switched on.

There isn’t much you can do to avoid issues with your starter motor, although regular maintenance checks may prevent problems.

Tyre and Wheel Damage

A tyre could burst due to debris on the road or because of under-inflation.

Under-inflation can cause tyres to overheat, so it’s good practice to check your vehicle’s tyre pressure and tread condition when you fill up with fuel.

While it’s a condition of the annual vehicle MOT, It’s also a good idea to regularly check you have a serviceable spare wheel or a temporary puncture repair kit in the car.


Thousands of drivers a year put the wrong fuel in their cars. It’s easily done. Most misfuelling errors are motorists putting petrol in a diesel car as the petrol nozzles easily fits in the wider diesel filler neck.

If you have misfuelled your car, the most important thing is not to start your car. Even turning the ignition is enough to prime the fuel pump and pull fuel into the system. If you can, move your car away from the pumps, but remember don’t start the engine. Call your breakdown or car insurer (if covered) so they can then advise or send out a specialist to help.

Electrical problem

Your car’s electrical system includes a range of circuits controlling everything from the engine management system to the headlights and even the info system and stereo. As cars, get more technical, the chances of having a problem become more common.

Other than simple fixes for broken bulbs, it’s better to get a trained mechanic to run a full analysis of the electrical system and advise you on next steps.

Loss of oil

Low oil levels can not only damage your engine by causing overheating but can even result in the engine seizing completely as the oil lubricates the engine parts, reducing potentially damaging friction.

While most cars have a “low engine oil” warning light, it’s best not to rely on this and complete a regular manual check of the vehicle using the oil dipstick, normally located in the engine compartment.

Lost Keys

If you lose your key or lock it inside your car, you’re going to need help to get back in. While it’s a good idea to keep the spare in a safe place at home, this won’t always help you if you are miles away.

Many newer cars have micro-chipped keys, designed to make them harder to be stolen, but which means you will have to contact a main car dealer for your car or call out a specialist.


Breakdown cover that keeps you moving from £56 per year.


Provided by ERS, Police Mutual Rescue unlike the AA or RAC, doesn’t have a fleet of branded vans, but utilises 425 UK recovery specialists, on hand 365 days a year*, to rescue our members when they breakdown.


UK cover comes with:


  • Misfuelling cover
  • Lost keys and lock assistance
  • Assistance at home and within 1/4 mile
  • Onward travel provision should your car not be repairable


For full policy cover details including any exclusions, please call 0151 242 7640 or visit our website.


*Information provided by ERS, March 2020.


Police Mutual Rescue (Breakdown Cover) is provided by ERS (Syndicate 218 at Lloyds).


PMGI Limited, trading as Police Mutual, is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct

Authority. Registered in England and Wales No. 1073408. Registered office: Alexandra House,

Queen Street, Lichfield, Staffordshire WS13 6QS.


For your security, all telephone calls are recorded and may be monitored.

Type of article: Articles
Category: Wellbeing

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