Top 10 Most Common Faults
Cars are an amazing piece of engineering, involving mechanics, electrics, computing, and explosives among others. It never ceases to amaze, the talent of the Technicians ability and knowledge to keep these vehicles on the road.
To prevent untimely breakdowns or component failures, it is therefore essential to keep them in tip top condition. However, when times are tight, you can understand why, for some, this time is extended. Warranty Direct suggest that the average car repair bill is £350 with the more complex repairs totalling over £1k. To help understand why your car may fail, here are the top 10 most common faults (according to Which?).
The battery is essential for getting your car started and ensures the electrics function such as your radio/CD, lights, heater, etc.
A battery recharges with longer journeys, so for a town car the battery will need charging more regularly. This is most likely to fail in the Winter with the increase in use and extra strain of the cold weather on the system, so ensure you check your battery in the Autumn to be winter ready.
2. Air Conditioning
Air Con tends not to be used in the winter, although for dryer air to clear windscreens efficiently (among other benefits) it is important to still use it! It reaches its peak in the Summer and this is often when they fail as the weak points become exposed with the additional strain on the system. The ideal time is to book an Air Con Service is in the Spring to ensure you are not without your car during the summer.
Like any light bulb, these have a life span and often go unnoticed when they fail (unless both headlights fail together!). If caught, Police will issue a Vehicle Defect Rectification Notice giving you 14 days to get it rectified. It’s never nice being pulled over, but more often than not, you are reliant on others telling you if your lights aren’t working – realistically how many of us really check lights before they go out?
Halfords, Kwik Fit, etc all change for the light bulb and the time to fit. At Redbourn Auto Solutions, our Service customers enjoy this facility free of charge.
These become more obvious as the nights draw in during the Winter.
4. Exhaust/Emission Control System
The majority of these failures are in diesel cars with Diesel Particulate Filters. These filters are crucial in capturing harmful emissions, such as Soot, before they hit the atmosphere. If this fails, your car may be off the road for 1-2 days dependent on the cause of the fault. It is not something that is checked regularly as they regenerate. However, emission tests will tell you when they are not working. In the majority of cases a long drive on the motorway will clear this, but some still need to be taken to the garage.
5. Electric Windows
Always frustrating when a window goes, especially the driver’s window. It’s not until it malfunctions, that you realise how often you use it! Your garage will check the fuse, relay and control switch as these are the most common offenders. These are less predictable and can malfunction at any time.
6. Suspension Components
There’s been a lot in the press relating to the damage to cars from potholes in the road. If you suffer damage due to a pothole, you can speak to the council, but ensure you keep a record of where the pothole is, a photo and details for the cost of repairs. In reality, suspension can go at any time, so relating it to a specific damaged road may be difficult. Potholes.co.uk give further details on how to make a claim. Suspension is looked over during your annual service, so any major faults can be identified here.
Visibility is crucial whether in hot sunny weather when bugs stuck to your windscreen or in the wet wintery months where ice, snow and rain can prevent a clear view. On the majority of occasions a new wiper blade or clearing the jets will provide a cheap and effective remedy. On other occasions the motor may be at fault and require more attention.
10. Fuel System
This covers anything that prevents the fuel to getting to the engine. These issues will need the help of a garage to ensure that you don’t cause more damage to the car by driving it further. If there is an issue with the fuel system, use a recovery service to get your car to your local garage. This is another unpredictable fault, but should see you back on the road again in no time.
9. Engine Control Unit
The ECU is the computing brain of the car. This will require a garage that is good at diagnostics. Remember that diagnostics depends on the skill of the Master Technician or Diagnostic Technician to interpret the diagnostic machine. The diagnostic machine will tell you where the car has failed not why! This is why the majority of garages charge for this service – it is complex and needs the right equipment and a trained Technician. It is not a quick easy fix. At Redbourn Auto Solutions, this is a complementary service when we complete the repair for you.
10. Mechanical Braking
Brake discs and pads are checked in your annual Service so shouldn’t be top of the list for a brake down. More likely to be sticking brake callipers, brake servos or master cylinders. All of these need the attention of your local garage and are mostly straight forward to repair, if caught early enough.
The majority of these are easily remedied or will be checked during a Service, MOT or Health Check. Rather than worry about the car breaking down, now is the time to get your diary in order!
SPRING – Book in your Air Conditioning Service (bi-annual) to ensure a smooth summer.
SUMMER – Ensure your car has a Health Check before you embark on any long journeys (complimentary to our Service customers at Redbourn Auto Solutions)
AUTUMN/WINTER – Annual Service & MOT – time to ensure your car is ready for the more demanding months
Obviously, this is a bit of an ideal, but do take time to come up with your own plan and make sure you are not faced with avoidable breakdowns.