Direct Line magazine

Five reasons your car could break down this summer

Updated on: 23 April 2021

a red car has broken down by the roadside

The reasons for car breakdowns change between winter and summer, with heat putting different stresses on critical components than the cold.

Here are five faults encountered in the summer.

1. Water leaks

Drivers often think it’s all right to only occasionally top up their coolant because they can’t see a leak. However, in warmer weather, cars need more from their cooling systems and this can expose weaknesses. Before you know it, slight weeping from a failed seal can become a full leak.

Potential problem: Overheating

2: Low oil pressure

As temperatures rise, oil becomes less viscous. This means that instead of it being a nice thick substance that sticks to all the moving parts and lubricates them, it becomes watery. When oil doesn’t lubricate effectively, mechanical components like the crankshaft and camshafts take more punishment.

Potential problem: Catastrophic engine failure

3: Rubber belt failure

A car’s lights, windscreen wipers and sound system are powered by the battery. The battery is kept charged by the alternator, and the alternator is driven by a rubber belt. This belt often drives the air-conditioning and water pump too. In hot weather, the air-con and water pump have to work harder, and if the rubber belt is damaged or is starting to perish, it can easily snap. This means no cooling system and no charge in the battery.

Potential problem: Overheating, flat battery

4: Brakes and clutches

The hotter that frictional components like braking systems and clutches get, the more likely it is that their surfaces will change. This means they won’t grip what they’re supposed to and so won’t work properly. Another reason brake systems fail is because brake fluid has gone beyond its useful life.

Potential problem: Brake fade

5: Tyres

High temperatures can aggravate existing tyre damage, and under-inflation can cause even more problems. The increased friction from the road generates even more heat, which can prove too much for weak spots.

If you’re driving anywhere on holiday, check your tyre condition and pressures and make necessary adjustments for any extra loads.


Potential problem: Punctures and blow-outs

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