The Most Common Reasons Cars Break Down

Bradley Jando | Wednesday 11th August 2021 1:05pm

Broken down car at the side of a road

Let’s face it, one of the most frustrating experiences of car ownership is a breakdown.

Immediately, you’re fretting about the repairs that might need to be done; and, on top of that, you’re faced with the stress of your mode of transport no longer taking you where you need to be - whether it’s visiting friends, taking a trip, or going to work.

We recently commissioned a survey of over 2,000 UK adults to find out more about their experiences with breakdowns, and the most common reasons for their cars breaking down. Can you guess what it is?

Breakdown concerns

First, let’s take a look at perception - what do people think will be the reason for breakdown or car failure?

Only 4% are concerned about battery failure, while 15% are worried that their brakes will fail. It makes sense - brakes are a pretty major safety component, and the cost of brake replacement can be relatively expensive.

Brake replacement can cost anything from around £150 to £400 depending on the model of car and any callout fees. So, the fear of brake failure is warranted on the basis of cost and safety.

The actual reasons for breakdown

Battery failure

Battery Troubles

It turns out that the reality of what actually happens is practically the opposite to what people worry will happen.

When surveyed, only 3% said their most recent breakdown was due to brake failure - and the most common reason was battery failure, coming in at a whopping 17%.

Luckily, battery replacement is around half the price of brake replacement, with the average cost for the battery and replacement standing at around £115. And that’s if you actually need to replace it.

For the majority of battery failures, a jump start or charge will usually do the trick - and if you can get a friend over to help, the cost probably won’t be more than a cup of tea!

Engine failure

The second most common cause of people’s cars breaking down was engine failure, with 12% reporting that this was the reason for their most recent breakdown.

Now, you might be wondering what ‘engine failure’ actually means. There are many complex systems within an engine that could fail, but the main causes are overheating, lack of oil, and detonation (which is mostly not as dramatic as it sounds). To avoid these, you should get your car serviced regularly and be sure to check your oil levels - especially before long journeys.

Engine Troubles

Car won’t start

Car Won't Start

The car simply not starting was the reported cause of 9% of breakdowns, making it the third most common reason. If you’re not sure why your car won’t start, it can be quite alarming.

In most cases, the average person isn’t going to have the ability to diagnose the problem - and there are actually many reasons why this might happen, ranging from a dead battery to spark plug issues.

While it is possible to garner some idea of what might have happened from the sounds your car is making (for example, you’ll usually hear a whirring sound if your engine is flooded), your best bet will be calling a mechanic.

Why do we worry about breaking down?

There are plenty of reasons why our cars break down - and similarly, there are plenty of reasons why breakdowns concern us.

From the adults surveyed, it became clear that people’s biggest concern is the cost of repairs (39%). As we’ve touched on, breakdowns can prove to be rather costly, with the average cost for recent repairs falling at £295.60.

Another huge worry is ‘being stranded away from home’; 35% reported this as their biggest concern.

It’s important to keep in mind that if you do break down away from home, you should try to pull over in the safest place possible (as far away from moving traffic as you can get). Put your hazard lights on to warn other drivers, and if you’re on a normal road (not a motorway) put a warning triangle 50m behind your vehicle.

Engine Troubles

Taking your car for repairs

Our survey also found that another concern regarding breaking down is having to deal with a garage as a result.

This needn’t be the case - and Kwik Fit makes it easy for you. We’re here to help you in your time of need, and our friendly team will make the process as smooth as possible. Locate your nearest Kwik Fit centre and give us a call!

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Any facts, figures and prices shown in our blog articles are correct at time of publication.

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