When a vehicle breaks down, it can lead to major stress, inconvenience, and costly solutions. A breakdown is especially frustrating when it occurs during the nighttime, during bad weather, or in the middle of nowhere. Some breakdowns are beyond our control, but most are preventable. According to Google Trends, people searched “towing near me” over 3,000 times in the Dallas Fort Worth area from July 2022 to July 2023. In this blog, we’ll discuss why vehicles break down and how you can avoid being stuck on the side of a road.

5 Common Reasons Vehicles Break Down

Every vehicle, no matter how old or new, is susceptible to breaking down. They are complicated devices that contain mechanical and electrical components, allowing for a lot to go wrong. Even though every vehicle is different, there are several common reasons that they tend to break down. Here are the top 5 reasons:

  • Faulty batteries. Battery trouble is the top cause of breakdown issues. Thankfully, there are warning signs that your battery may be dying. These signs include your vehicle taking longer than usual to start and a lit-up battery light while you’re driving. Once a battery reaches its lifespan of about three to five years, it could die at any moment.
  • Faulty alternators. An alternator generates power to a vehicle’s electricity and helps recharge the battery. A faulty alternator can lead to a flat battery. Dimmed headlights, flickering dashboard lights, and slow wipers are signs that your alternator may be going out.
  • Flat tires. A flat tire is a common reason for breaking down. Potholes and debris can puncture or damage tires, forcing drivers to pull over. A tire blowout is a similar major issue that leads to a breakdown. Common causes for a tire blowout include low tire inflation, overloading, worn tread, and warm temperatures. 
  • Electrical system issues. The electrical system in a vehicle is made of many circuits. Burnt-out bulbs, faulty wiring, blown fuses, and wear and tear can lead to issues that make it unsafe to drive. When the lights aren’t working properly, warning lights are on, or the engine takes longer than normal to start, there may be a problem within the electrical system.
  • Overheating. There are many reasons that an engine overheats. There could be a cooling system leak, faulty radiator fan, broken water pump, or clogged coolant hose. Visible symptoms that your vehicle is overheating include steam coming from the hood, a high engine temperature gauge, and a strange smell coming from the engine. 

Preventative Maintenance 

While some situations that lead to a vehicle being towed are unavoidable, many can be avoided through regular maintenance and checkups. This is known as preventative maintenance, which is the key to lowering your chances of breaking down. Having a vehicle looked at when nothing seems to be wrong helps prevent future issues. This saves drivers money in the long run, as unknown problems can lead to more costly problems. Keeping in mind the top five reasons breakdowns happen, let’s now look at how we can avoid them:

  • Battery maintenance. Frequently checking the battery on a vehicle is a smart step to take to avoid breaking down. It should be checked for cleanliness, be properly filled, and have a steady voltage. It is recommended to replace the battery every three years even if nothing is wrong with it.
  • Alternator maintenance. Have the alternator checked during routine maintenance to eliminate the chances of serious issues. Mechanics can replace components of an alternator to prolong its life and ensure safety. An alternator will still need to be changed eventually, but replacement of parts prevents sudden failures.
  • Check tires. Poorly maintained tires are more likely to have issues that can lead to breakdowns. Check tires regularly for correct tire depth and tire pressure. Also, look for signs of wear and tear. Uneven wearing on tires could mean the tires aren’t properly aligned. Be sure to have a spare tire in good condition available in case of emergency. 
  • Test electrical system. It is wise to have an electrical system tested twice a year. A trained mechanic can run an electrical system analysis and advise you on the next steps to take. 
  • Prevent overheating. To prevent a vehicle from overheating, regularly have coolant flushes and exchanges performed. It is recommended to have transmission fluid exchanged every 24,000 to 36,000 miles. Staying up to date with radiator maintenance will also help fix any potential radiator issues. 

Tips To Avoid Breaking Down

Regular services ensure your vehicle stays roadworthy and that small issues are dealt with before they become big issues. In addition to preventative maintenance, follow these tips to avoid breaking down:

  • Drive appropriately. The way you drive can affect the health of your vehicle. Try to avoid hard stops and starts, revving the engine, riding the brakes, and crunching the gears. 
  • Don’t ignore warning lights. It can be tempting to disregard the lit-up warning lights on your dashboard. When a warning light comes on, it’s best to take the vehicle to a mechanic as soon as possible. Even postponing dealing with the issue can lead to bigger and more costly repairs. 
  • Be aware of strange noises and smells. If you notice noises and smells coming from your vehicle that aren’t usually there, get it checked out immediately. 

Towing And Preventative Maintenance At Massey Towing & Truck Service

A vehicle breakdown is a situation that no one wants to be in. To avoid being on the side of the road googling “wrecker service near me,” have your vehicle routinely checked. At Massey Towing & Truck Service, we can perform preventative maintenance on your heavy-duty truck to keep you on the road and moving. And if something does happen, we are available 24/7 to safely tow away a variety of vehicles. Make an appointment today to get started with your preventative maintenance plan.