Research by the AA has revealed the five most common causes of callouts for their patrols.
A study of all callouts across the UK over the last four years highlighted batteries as the number one cause of a breakdown, followed in order by tyres, engine failure, problems with high-voltage charging cables, and failure of in-car equipment.
1) Batteries: batteries are an issue all year round, but especially in the cold weather. As they are hidden away in the engine compartment, they are often forgotten about and as long as electrical systems are working, it is often assumed they are in premium condition – but like every other part on a car, batteries should be regularly checked. Even a well-maintained battery will come to the end of its useful life at some point, and it is better for that to be anticipated and the battery replaced before it fails suddenly, with all the issues that can cause.
2) Tyres: these are a constant issue – sub-standard road conditions in the UK do not help, with potholes able to puncture a tyre in an instant. The risk of punctures can be reduced by a driver looking well ahead on the road and seeking to avoid potholes, raised ironworks and so on. This should be accompanied by basic checks on tyre condition and pressure to ensure they are safe and legally compliant.
3) Engines: when it comes to engines, there may not be any warning that an issue is present. However, any unusual sounds emanating from the engine, or issues with reduced power and performance should be checked immediately at a garage.
4) HV charging cables: the appearance of HV charging cables on the list is a clear reflection of the greater use of electric vehicles across the UK. In simple terms, a non-functioning cable means the vehicle will run out of power. All AA patrols now carry a special fob, allowing them access to Chargemaster’s 5,000-strong Polar network, meaning electric vehicles can get moving again quickly.
5) In-car equipment failures: these can cover a multitude of issues, many of which cannot be anticipated. However, ensuring that service and maintenance intervals are adhered to, will minimise the risk of unanticipated issues.
Instilling good driving practices and ensuring that drivers make regular visual checks of their vehicles will help to highlight any issues as soon as they arise – and allow them to be addressed proactively, rather than failing in-service with all the disruption this can cause.
Similarly, making sure drivers bring their vehicles in for routine service is vital to identifying any potential issues and taking the necessary steps to repair or replace parts which may cause a problem.