Car breakdowns are inevitable. They’ll happen when you least expect it, and Murphy’s Law suggests they’ll happen at the least convenient times. There are things you’ll want to carry in your car to make these times less stressful, but more importantly, there are steps you can take as a driver to prevent car breakdowns in the first place.
AARP and AAA suggest keeping a roadside emergency kit for the times when you can’t avoid a breakdown; For things such as flat tires and similar. You can find an outline of their suggested kits on their sites.
Roadside Services Towing of Northwestern Arkansas is there when you do breakdown. We want to help our customers avoid the hassle by outlining some of the best tips for avoiding car breakdowns.
Preventative Car Maintenance
1. Pay Attention to Your Dash Lights
Your dash lights are your car’s way of communicating when something isn’t right. Knowing what these mean is critical. If a dash light comes on and you’re not sure what it’s trying to tell you, you can take your car to a local parts store and ask someone to help with a diagnostic scan.
Parts store associates will be able to hook up a machine to run the error codes and let you know what’s gone wrong inside. Write down the codes and take them to a mechanic to avoid issues before they cause a car breakdown.
2. Keep Your Fluids Topped Off
Your car needs proper engine fluids to keep moving safely. Oil, transmission fluid, power steering fluid, and brake fluid keep your car healthy.
Make it a part of your weekly routine to check and top off these fluids. Many people set aside an hour or so every weekend to fill their gas, check their fluids, tire pressure, and clean out the week’s debris. Don’t forget to double-check the emergency kit too. These are all good habits to build.
3. Don’t Miss a Regular Service
Even with a regular fill of fluids, your filters will need replacing on occasion also. Your car needs a regular appointment with an oil and lube shop to swap and flush fluids, change filters, to help keep your car healthy. Different cars and engines require these services at different intervals, but the generally accepted frequency is every three months or every 3000 miles.
4. Avoid Driving Aggressively
Driving aggressively puts unnecessary wear on your car. Hard stops put heavy wear on your tires and brakes, and quick acceleration can wear on your tires and transmission. They are built to take normal wear and tear, but most cars aren’t meant to be driven like race cars or rally cars.
5. Avoid Overloading Your Car
Extra weight on occasion is fine, but keeping excessive weight in your car can damage the tires, chassis, and suspension system. Beyond basic wear, extra weight can make your car handle differently by changing the center of gravity, leading to a higher chance of collision.
6. Pay Attention to Your Battery
When a battery is too cold, too old, or has corrosion on the cables, it can prevent your car from starting. The best way to avoid this is to check it often. You can purchase a meter to add to your emergency kit or use the headlight method to check the power of your battery.
The headlight method is to turn on your headlights before you start your car, wait a minute or two and start the engine. If the lights brighten significantly, your battery is getting low.
Another important thing to keep in mind is that weather and use can cause corrosion on your connecting cables. Keeping a pocket knife or sandpaper to remove the corrosion is a good idea for your emergency kit.
7. Keep an Eye, And an Ear, On Your Fan Belt
Your fan belt keeps everything moving, including the cooling fans. When it snaps, your car isn’t moving. A typical fan belt lasts 60,000-90,000 miles but can last longer or wear faster depending on the environment.
When it gets loose and is near breaking, fan belts start to whine and squeal. Listening to your car will help you get maintenance done before the issues become a breakdown. With your regular services, you can ask the mechanic to check the fan belt while they’re under the car.
8. Be Mindful of Your Fuel Levels
This may seem like the most obvious thing on the list, but many people overestimate the distance they can go after the low fuel light comes on. If you find yourself running on fumes too often, keeping a spare gas can and walking shoes may be useful. Or you can avoid running out of gas by refilling your tank as soon as you reach ¼ tank. Running your car out of fuel can cause major damage to the fuel pump, creating much more expensive problems down the road.
9. Don’t Lock Yourself Out
This is another one that seems obvious. It’s not technically a breakdown, but it will prevent you from moving on with your day. Leaving your keys in your car when you lock it is a major inconvenience.
Make sure your partner, parent, or a close friend has a spare set of keys they can bring to you in an emergency, or that your insurance covers a locksmith.
10. Listen to Your Car
Your car’s dash lights can only communicate so much. Getting familiar with the noises your car makes can be very helpful. Noises on different common roads, the road noise, the wind as it passes over your car, and other noises are important to notice. When the sounds change, it’s a preemptive warning that something has changed, and could cause a breakdown.
Roadside Services Towing of NWA
When a roadside emergency does come up, we’re here to help. Roadside Services Towing of NWA is ready to bring out our best trucks and techs to help you get your car to safety and get you back on the road. Give us a call at 479-751-8200