Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Breakdowns on How to Choose a Car?

With so many cars to choose, which will be the correct one for you? Based on my decade experience as a car enthusiast and information gathered from mingling with auto club members, listed below are some guidelines:

1)    Easy Maintenance -

These components have a lifespan and will fail in due time. These are listed below:

i)              Air conditioning cooling coil – This has to be serviced periodically or it will fail prematurely. This is located in the dashboard. However, the dashboard should NOT be removed on whole.

ii)             Air conditioning compressor – It should last the life of the vehicle.

iii)            Timing belt – For cars that do not come with maintenance free timing chain.

iv)          Alternator

v)            Battery - If your car does not come with a battery indicator, the battery should be changed every one and a half to two years. This is regardless of battery strength because it will fail without warning. You may lose out a little but will minimise the chances inconvenience.

There must be ample space for removal and assembly or servicing of these. In laymen’s assessment, your hand should be able to enter all parts of the engine bay comfortably. Try not to purchase cars above 2.0L. The engine bay gets compact from here on. Each of these above components should take half working day and definitely NOT MORE than one working day.

2)    Electronics

i)               EPS (Electric Power Steering) and ECU (Electronic Control Units) for engines – These have been revolutionary. Major mechanical components have been eradicated. They are replaced by maintenance free ones.

ii)             Other electronic equipment – Not all electric or electronic is good. Though unavoidable at this time of age, refrain from as much electronics as possible.

3)    Factory Fitted Equipment

i)              GPS (Global Positioning System) Vehicle Tracking and Recovery Systems and Navigators – If purchased, always opt for this type of installation. Their finishing is good and does not void your new vehicle’s manufacturer’s warranty.

Top Ten Breakdown Causes
The most common problems dealt with by AA patrols
These are the most common problems dealt with by AA patrols. Many can be fixed at the roadside, but most can be avoided with the correct preventative care.
1.    Flat or faulty battery
o    Most common problems are caused by terminals and clamp connections or by a loss of voltage, often caused by constant use on short journeys without regular recharging.
o    At every service, check that terminals have been cleaned and protected from corrosion with a layer of petroleum jelly or grease. Clamps and connections must be secure.
o    If you seldom make a long journey, a fortnightly overnight charge prolongs battery life.
o    Modern maintenance-free batteries need no top-up.
2.    Lost keys
o    Many modern cars have a 'transponder' key to prevent theft.
o    If you lose the key, recovery to an authorised dealer is usually the only answer.
o    Even a dealer may take several days to obtain a replacement, so always carry a spare set of keys.
3.    Flat/damaged tyres and wheels
o    Know the correct pressures for different speeds and loads, and adjust accordingly.
o    Kerb impact can damage sidewalls and, possibly wheel rims. Both can result in slow leaks. Consult a specialist tyre dealer if any damage is visible.
o    When checking tread depth, look for uneven tyre wear – the wheels may be misaligned.
o    Look at the spare tyre. A worn or flat spare won't be of use in an emergency.
o    Check that the jack and wheel-removal tools are in good condition and that the key or removal tool for locking wheel nuts is accessible.
4.    Alternator faults
o    Persistent battery problems and dim headlights when the engine is idling can indicate alternator/generator faults.
o    Belts driving the alternator may also operate the radiator fan and water pump. A red ignition warning light plus a rapid rise in engine temperature could indicate a broken belt. Stop immediately.
5.    Starter motor
o    Though usually robust, starter motors can fail.
o    Good, regular garage maintenance should highlight potential faults.
6.    Distributor cap
o    Moisture and dirt are the chief enemies of this vital ignition-system component.
o    A crack in the cap's insulation may be almost invisible but can be sufficient to allow high ignition voltage to leak away, especially in damp weather, so there may be no ignition spark.
o    Replace the cap at the car manufacturer's recommended intervals.
o    If the weather protection covering the cap splits, replace it.
7.    Fuel problems
o    Empty fuel tanks cost AA patrols a lot of time and members unnecessary inconvenience.
o    Fill up at the start of your journey.
o    Every year more than 100,000 motorists put the wrong fuel in their car – petrol in diesel engines or vice versa. In these cases the car will have to be recovered to a garage and draining the tank and disposing of contaminated fuel is expensive.
8.    Clutch cables
o    The clutch cable is under high stress. Abrasion can weaken the wire strands until they break.
o    Temporary repairs can often be made at the roadside, but replacement at the first signs of wear is the best answer.
9.    Spark plugs
o    The spark plug is a much-neglected part of the ignition system.
o    Make sure that you replace plugs at the manufacturer's recommended service intervals.
10. HT leads
o    High-tension (HT) leads and their connections can deteriorate with age. Water and dirt enter cracks in the insulation, reducing the ignition voltage.
o    Damp-repellent sprays are only a temporary solution.
o    Ask your garage to check the condition of the leads and replace as necessary.

Please pay attention to these above to minimise the chances further.

With all these precautions, sometimes the unfortunate still happens. Listed below are tips to prepare you:

1)    Breakdown service – Become a member of the AA (Automobile Association), RAC (Royal Automobile Club) or others.

2)    Authorised service centres list - Have a list of authorized service centres in the regions you are going through or heading to.

3)    Taxi list – Have a list of taxi services in the regions you are going through or heading to. You will need their services so that your loved ones can continue their journey.

4)    Hotels listHave a list of hotels in the regions you are going through or heading to. You may also need to stay at a hotel temporarily while your vehicle is being looked into.

5)    Emergency funds – Always have them readily available.

For the finale, below is the Perodua Myvi LE in Dazzling Red. It was cosmetically designed exclusively for women. However it is ONLY available in MALAYSIA. What a pity... :-(

Now you can enjoy your holidays at ease!


Reference Cited

TOP TEN BREAK DOWN CAUSES [Online] The Automobile Association Limited. Available from:
[Accessed: 3 FEB 2011]

IMAGES [Online] Google. Available from:
[Accessed: 3 FEB 2011]

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