For some drivers, Friday the 13th really will be unlucky. They’ll be the thousands of car owners whose vehicles break down. Obviously cars are very complex machines with a lot of different components working together. At Green Flag we’re proud of our ability to get members’ cars going again when we attend breakdowns. And last year we helped out nearly 200,000 people. Here are the most popular reasons for calling out our technicians in 2014.
Breakdown causes: Non starts
The vast majority of the calls we receive – more than a quarter – come from members who go to their car and find that it won’t start. This can be for a huge number of reasons.
Breakdown causes: Wheel change
The second most popular cause for calling Green Flag is to change wheels. On some cars, heat welds alloy wheels to the hubs meaning you can’t get them off without the kind of specialist equipment our experts carry. In other cases our customers don’t have the right knowledge to attempt a wheel change themselves. Or perhaps they – quite sensibly – think that as they’ve paid for breakdown cover, there’s no point in getting their clothes and hands dirty!
Breakdown causes: Battery
The battery is one of the unsung heroes of the modern motor car. Without it, we can’t start the engine and all the creature comforts we take for granted such as air-conditioning, satellite navigation and the windscreen wipers rely on the battery. So it leads quite a hard life and performs without complaint, usually for between five and seven years. Then it gives up the ghost – frequently at the most inconvenient time possible.
Breakdown causes: Cut out, won’t start
As I’ve already said, the engine is a complicated piece of equipment and on all modern cars it is governed by a computer, the Engine Control Unit (ECU). Sometimes breakdowns occur because ECUs detect faults before they happen and shut the engine down to protect it from further damage. Sometimes, it’s the ECU itself that’s on the blink. Whatever the cause, problems with the electronics can be difficult to trace.
Breakdown causes: Puncture, no spare
This doesn’t mean there is no spare wheel, although sometimes it might be missing, perhaps replaced by the car manufacturer with a temporary repair kit that the car’s previous owner has then removed. What it usually signifies is that the spare wheel either doesn’t have enough air in it to be used safely, or there aren’t sufficient tools to change the wheel, usually because they’ve gone AWOL at some point during the car’s life.
Neil Wilson is Green Flag’s head of rescue claims and motor claims response