The five most common breakdowns on our roads have been unchanged for a few years. However, with a few precautions, they are easy to prevent. We offer you some practical, simple and inexpensive tips.
Common faults: 1.- Battery
Winter is the hardest time for batteries. Many of them are often too low and have insufficient reserves for the engine to start in cold climates. The Civil Traffic Guard assists large numbers of motorists with battery problems each year. In about half of the interventions, the latter must be changed.
- Always keep in mind that the average battery life is 5 to 6 years.
- When starting, turn off headlights and power-consuming items such as ventilation, rear window defroster, radio, seat heating, windshield wipers, etc.
- After a difficult start or after having been assisted by an agent, you must drive for 20 minutes, which is a minimum distance of 30 kilometers.
Common faults: 2.- Refrigeration circuit
Check the engine coolant before the temperatures drop . There are simple and inexpensive testers on the market that can check the level of freeze protection of the car. A 50/50 mixture of antifreeze and water offers your engine protection down to approximately -30 °. Coolant additives also prevent corrosion.
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- Do not use tap water, but use a specific coolant. When in doubt, check the manufacturer’s recommended products in your car manual.
- Before winter, ask a specialist to check the antifreeze concentration and the thermostatic valve in the cooling circuit.
Common breakdowns: 3.- Fuel
It is vehicles that run on diesel that suffer the most from the cold. The most recent generation of diesel engines are insensitive to cold, but only on the condition that they are regularly checked and maintained by specialists.
- Starting in November, service stations switch to winter diesel. It is a generation of fuel that contains additives that remain active down to –25 ° C, 30 ° C.
- Do not put gasoline in a modern car that runs on diesel. It used to be made with old diesel engines. With today’s engines, this is bad for the injection system.
Common breakdowns: 4.- Tires
In Spain, the proportion of winter tires is barely 40%. The reason is obviously the relatively low risk of persistent ice and / or snow. However, winter tires are significantly safer. Good to know, even if you use your winter tires at a temperature:
- From 0 °, the braking distance decreases by 6%
- From -5 °, it decreases 12%
- From -10 °, it decreases 20%
One of the most important properties of winter tires is that they remain flexible. You don’t have to wear them all year long. When the temperature rises, winter tires are less efficient and wear out faster.
- Install four identical tires ( winter or 4 seasons ) in the car to ensure maximum performance.
- Check the tire pressure.
- The depth of the tread is very important, especially for winter tires. It is 8mm for new winter tires. At 6mm, the braking distance on snow increases by 20%, at 4mm it increases by 50%, at 2mm by 70%.
Common faults: 5.- Starter motor
If the engine has difficulty starting, do not use force. First turn on the headlights briefly to warm up the battery. Then turn off the headlights and make sure all other power-consuming items are off as well. Depress the clutch pedal (even if the lever is in neutral) and try to start.
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- Do not let the engine run for a long time before starting – this is bad not only for the engine but also for the environment.
- Park your car in the garage for the night, if you have one.
- Press the clutch pedal when starting, the battery will run less because the engine will encounter less resistance.