How to Deal with Breakdowns
The average age of vehicles on the roads of Spain is increasing, which is unfortunately going against the government’s hopes of reducing the age of the fleet, hence numerous subsidies to help older vehicle owners buy new.
At the moment, the average age of vehicle is nearing 12 years, which not only means that many vehicles are not equipped with the latest safety features and technology, it also means they are more prone to breakdown.
The good news is that most of the breakdowns are common faults, and in the worst case your insurance would cover recovery. However, it’s still not pleasant when it happens, and so we can look at not only what to do if it does, but also how we can help to prevent such problems.
If you do breakdown on the road, the first thing to remember is to stay calm. Then, you need to think about protecting yourself and your vehicle. Put on your high visibility vest and switch on your hazard lights. At night, you should also have your parking lights on, if possible.
Remember next to place your emergency triangles. These have to be placed 50 metres from the rear of your vehicle if traffic is flowing in only one direction, and 50 metres from the front if traffic flows in two directions. It is also important to ensure that your triangles are not only 50 metres away, but are visible from at least 100 metres, bearing in mind such obstructions as curves or the brow of a hill, for example.
Now that you and your vehicle are protected, make a note of exactly where you are. Road signs and kilometre posts are important, or major landmarks. You will need to know your exact location because now you need to summon help from your insurance recovery company, or from the emergency services if needed. Remember, stay calm and protected at all times.
We said that most of the faults are common, and that we would look at prevention as well. Sadly, a lot of problems are caused by poor maintenance, such as with the brakes or suspension. Undiagnosed faults here can seriously reduce the stopping ability of a vehicle and can therefore be extremely dangerous. It is always best to get these systems checked by approved and qualified mechanics at authorised garages, such as Autos Direct in San Miguel de Salinas for example, who provide us with lots of information relating to maintenance, and will have a check of your car in their Bosch service centre.
Lights are a common failure for older vehicles. These should be checked regularly, making sure that all lights are working, including brake lights and indicators. Some older cars do have bulbs which are easy to swap, which is one of their benefits, others may need a mechanic to assist.
The electrical system can deteriorate with age and can be prone to failures. Although many faults may require a mechanic to repair, some can be repaired if they are simple, keep an eye on warning lights on the dashboard and if there is any doubt, visit a qualified mechanic.
The engine itself can also be prone to failures as it gets old. Sometimes the rubber seals become worn or damaged, so be aware of this, but you can and must check your oil levels on a regular basis and makes sure that there is nothing obviously wrong such as a leak.
Tyres also deteriorate with age, and these must be changed if worn down. Damage can occur for many reasons and you can check the tyres yourself, looking for obvious signs of damage such as holes or knocks, and that the tread is even. By the way, Autos Direct have a little card which you can get for free to check the tread depth of your tyres, just call in and ask them for one (subject to availability of course), and search for “tyres” on n332.es for lots more information on how to check for problems. You must also keep tyres correctly inflated and check this on a regular basis.
With a little bit of care and attention, increasing as the vehicle gets older, we can avoid a lot of problems, but if you do find yourself broken down remember to stay calm and always protect yourself first.