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5 Most Common Causes of Car Breakdowns

Common causes of car breakdown

Modern vehicles, with their advanced technology, are vastly more intricate than the simpler cars of the past. Earlier, cars primarily consisted of basic components like carbureted engines, gearboxes, and differentials. The absence of complex computers and electronic systems made them easier for owners to diagnose and fix.

However, these older models lacked the comfort, features, and fuel efficiency that are standard in today’s vehicles. Although modern cars are equipped with sophisticated computer systems and mechanics, fundamental principles for many mechanical components remain the same. When encountering issues like warning lights, non-starting engines, or unusual car behaviour, certain accessible parts can often be addressed by the owner. This article explores common causes of car breakdowns and potential remedies.

Flat of Faulty Battery

Flat Battery

This tops the list of car breakdown causes, and can leave drivers stranded and late for important appointments. It’s also one of the easiest problems to avoid. If you get your car serviced regularly, your car battery should never go dead.

To prevent ending up with a faulty or dead car battery, it’s worth taking the following precaution tips into consideration:

  • Always make sure you don’t leave the lights on when parked—this includes internal lights too.
  • Charge the battery overnight every couple of weeks if you use your car mostly for short journeys.
  • If you’re going away for an extended period of time, ask somebody to turn on your car every now and then.

Alternator Problems

Alternator Problem

The alternator charges the battery while the car runs. If your car starts but then stops, or if you notice dimming headlights, the alternator might be at fault.

It’s not always easy to tell if it’s the alternator or a dead battery that’s the problem, but if the car starts via its own ignition and then conks out, it’s likely to be an alternator issue. On the other hand, if the car requires a jump start but then continues to run, it’s most likely the battery that is the issue. Regular servicing can identify and rectify such issues early.


Overheating is a common cause of car breakdowns, and while some reasons for overheating are beyond immediate fix, there are crucial checks you can perform. If your car’s temperature gauge rises unexpectedly, here’s what to do:

Check the coolant level: First, allow the engine to cool down completely to avoid injury from hot liquid. Once safe, check the coolant level. If it’s low, topping it up with coolant or water might temporarily solve the problem. However, remember that low coolant often indicates a leak, requiring a mechanic’s attention.

Inspect the fan belt: Overheating can also stem from a faulty fan belt. If the belt is unable to effectively circulate cool air through the radiator, the engine’s temperature will rise rapidly, necessitating a tow to your mechanic.

Over Heating - Perth City Skoda

By addressing these two aspects, you can often manage or mitigate overheating issues, ensuring a safer driving experience.

Low Engine Oil Levels

Low Engine oil Indecation - Perth City Skoda

Low engine oil can lead to significant vehicle issues. If you spot oil stains on your driveway or experience a rough-running engine, these could be telltale signs of an oil leak. Here’s a step-by-step guide to check and manage your engine oil:

Checking engine oil level: Ensure the engine is cool for accurate measurement. Locate the dipstick, pull it out, and clean it with a rag. Reinsert it, then remove again to check the oil level, which should ideally be between the ‘full’ and ‘empty’ markers.

Topping up or changing engine oil: If the oil level is low, it’s essential to consider whether a top-up is sufficient or if a complete oil change is necessary. For a top-up, add fresh oil to reach the appropriate level. However, if the oil is dirty or you haven’t changed it in a while, it’s better to completely flush out the old oil and replace it with new oil. This ensures your engine is running on clean oil, which is vital for its efficiency and longevity.

Starter Motor Issues

Experiencing issues when starting your car can often point to a problem with the starter motor, a crucial component in your vehicle’s ignition system. Here’s how to identify and address starter motor issues:

Understanding starter motor function: The starter motor is the electrical device connected to the battery, responsible for initiating the engine’s operation when you turn the ignition key.

Identifying Common Symptoms

Silent Ignition: If turning the key leads to silence without the engine starting, it’s a strong indicator of a starter motor malfunction.
Clicking Sounds: A loud clicking noise upon turning the key suggests issues with the starter motor’s wiring and connectors.

Professional Assessment and Repair

These problems usually require a professional mechanic’s diagnosis and repair. Wiring and electrical issues, in particular, demand expert attention for safe and effective resolution.

Incorporating these steps into your car maintenance routine can help in early detection and repair of starter motor issues, ensuring a smoother and more reliable driving experience.

Additional Common Causes

Although we’ve covered the most common causes that we see, being aware of these additional factors can further safeguard your vehicle:

Lost keys and damaged tyres: Misplaced or locked-in keys are a surprisingly common issue. Keep a spare key handy. Also, regularly check your tyre pressures and tread conditions. Tyre and wheel damage, often from potholes or kerbs, can lead to breakdowns.

Fuel problems: Using the wrong fuel type can be disastrous. Always double-check before filling up. Keep an eye on fuel levels to avoid running out and ensure your fuel pump and injectors are functioning correctly.

Clutch issues (for manual cars): Clutch wear can lead to breakdowns. Be aware of changes in clutch feel and performance, and have it checked if you suspect issues.

Electrical faults: From bulb failures to more complex issues like ECU problems, electrical faults require professional diagnosis. Regular check-ups can prevent these issues from escalating.

Secure Peace of Mind with a Skoda Car Service

Understanding and addressing the common causes of car breakdowns is crucial, and while some issues can be diagnosed and remedied at home, the most reliable solution is professional servicing. Regular maintenance by experienced mechanics is key to avoiding these problems and ensuring your vehicle remains in excellent condition.

At Perth Skoda, our team of skilled professionals are dedicated to providing top-tier service. We pride ourselves on our ability to keep your vehicle running smoothly and efficiently. When you book a service with us, you’re not just getting a routine check-up; you’re investing in your car’s longevity and your safety on the road.

Don’t wait for a breakdown to remind you of the importance of regular car maintenance. Schedule your Skoda service in Perth today, and experience the confidence of driving a well-maintained vehicle. Contact us to ensure your car stays in optimal shape, ready to handle whatever the road throws your way.

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