January 16th, 2020 at 11:50 am
If you were working as a breakdown driver, chances are you might feel you were seeing the same routine causes of incidents time and again and guess what, you would be right. Data collated from the different emergency recovery organisations reveals that many causes of callouts are generated by the same problems. So take note and help yourself. Learn from other motorist’s experience and be prepared (see what to do in the event of a breakdown)
Gone are the days of a big bunch of car keys and a key fob. Apparently, with the new technology, it has become easier than ever to lose keys with keyless entry systems and alternative start systems. The key is not such a priority to secure the car and is becoming more likely to get lost rather than less. That good old fashioned nightmare of actually locking keys in the car has also come back to haunt motorists now with modern technology.
Replacement keys are not cheap and have to come from the main dealer because they usually need to be calibrated to synch with your vehicle. Some insurance policies now offer cover for this eventuality. Try and keep the spare key in a safe and logical location so that a friend or a family member could bring it to you in the event you need rescuing. This will at least allow you to drive the car away and give you time to try and work out where the original keys have gone to.
The AA reveals that around 133,000 motorists pull this stunt annually and if you actually start the engine and drive then this can be catastrophic. It really rather depends on when/if you realise. If you do misfuel and realise quickly, never start the engine – you will need to leave the car where it is sitting at the pumps and call recovery. Also, let the garage know what’s happened. You can put the car in neutral, release the handbrake and with assistance, push it away from the pumps to a quiet location on the garage forecourt.
Diesel and petrol behave quite differently in the internal combustion engine – diesel as well as providing power also acts as a lubricant around the engine, petrol has the opposite effect when mixed diesel. Friction increases between the moving components so if you actually drive the car and circulate the fuel, you can cause some expensive garage bills.
A specialist mechanic can flush through the engine and if you have not moved the vehicle then there is unlikely to be any lasting damage. The recovery unit may be able to drain, flush and refuel the car for you in situ but if not, will take the vehicle to the nearest specialist garage. Misfuelling is sometimes viewed by insurers as a driver error so you may not be covered for the drain and flush of your car’s fuel tank under your insurance policy. Always check with your insurer whilst you wait for recovery. If you are not covered, you may want to spend some time sourcing a specialist garage and comparing prices whilst you wait for the recovery unit to arrive. There is significant variation in prices to drain and flush a fuel tank across the industry.
Just to cause more confusion, the Department for Transport has declared that all fuel pumps should have new labels. The intention is to make it even clearer as to which fuel you should be using but replacing the words ‘unleaded’ and ‘diesel’ with the codes ‘E5’ and ‘B7’ is not abundantly transparent to motorists.
The presentation of the labels is also supposed to give you a clue, once motorists have got used to them. A circle means petrol and a square means diesel. The letter, ‘E’ stands for Ethanol and ‘B’ for Biodiesel, the number apparently refers to the percentage mix within the fuel so E5 indicates a combination including 5% Ethanol and B7 means 7% Biodiesel. Cars will have these labels on their fuel caps from 2020 and they are now at all fuel pumps from the 1ssst September 2019. All motorists need to do is match the label on the car with the correct pump. Eventually, these will become intuitive but in the early days, the recovery services are expecting more cases of misfuelling rather than less. The demise of diesel is probably more likely to reduce the incidences of misfuelling rather than anything else.
If you have more than one car and your vehicles are different fuel types then it can be easy to get distracted and misfuel when you are not concentrating. To help reduce mistakes, there is such a thing as a diesel fuel cap which you can fit to your vehicle and which prevents petrol nozzles from fitting into the aperture for a diesel fuel tank. Unsurprisingly, these devices are specific to the car make and model so you have to ensure you source the right one or it won’t fit. Most retail for less than £30 so a small price to pay to avoid a costly mistake.
The most common cause of a flat battery is not actually the life of the battery i.e. it is old and not holding a charge but dirty or worn terminals that may have corrosion on them. Cleaning terminals is a quick job by the roadside for recovery services.
An older battery will eventually start to lose its charge and cold starts in the winter don’t help or lots of short journeys in town which don’t really allow the battery enough time to reach its full charge. Your garage can check the condition of the battery and also tell you what its maximum charge is which is expressed as a percentage. This means the battery will only ever reach that capacity when fully charged and if this is less than 50% then you might want to consider changing it.
Punctures and tyre problems
Some punctures are unavoidable but tyres in poor condition are much more likely to crack or split when under pressure. Check the condition of your tyres visually on a regular basis not just the depth of tread. Look for uneven wear which can indicate an imbalance on the tracking. Always remember the fifth wheel, the spare tyre in the boot if you carry one. It is a legal requirement that the spare is in a roadworthy condition.