There is any number of reasons why a car might suddenly stop working. Often the cause is related to the fact you haven’t bothered having it serviced in a couple of years, or it is old and past its sell-by date. New cars tend to be more reliable, although don’t assume that you won’t ever have to call out a car recovery service at some inconvenient moment. So if your car has unexpectedly died, here are a few explanations as to why this has happened.
The Head Gasket Blew
Head gasket failure is unlikely to happen in a relatively new car, but it is a common fault in older cars. Unfortunately, if it happens to you, you can look forward to a very expensive repair bill. Your cay may be able to continue running with a failed head gasket, but don’t expect much performance. If left untreated, the engine will eventually overheat and leave you stranded by the side of the road. White smoke from the exhaust is a common sign of impending head gasket failure, as are bubbles from the radiator cap.
The Timing Belt Snapped
When the timing belt snaps on a car engine, it will be game over for a while. A snapped timing belt normally damages the valves, which is why the cost of repair is so exorbitant. The engine may still turn over, but much faster than normal, although in some cases it won’t respond at all when you turn on the ignition. If you are not sure whether this is the problem, a visual check will help. On some engines, it is possible to take the cover off the timing belt so you can see whether (or not) it is broken.
You Forgot to Top-Up the Oil
Oil lubricates the engine and keeps things running nice and smoothly. Without sufficient oil in the engine, it will seize up and stop working completely. To prevent this from happening to you, always keep a close eye on your oil levels and if the oil warning light comes on, don’t ignore it for weeks. Some cars can last for months without an oil top-up, but other models require regular oil infusions. If your car is one of the latter, keep a bottle of oil handy.
You Ran Out of Fuel
This has to be one of the most common reasons why a car stops working. Some people run their car on fumes and act surprised when it eventually grinds to a halt. Sadly, modern cars don’t function well with zero fuel in the tank and if you persist in running it on empty the engine will clog up with rubbish from the bottom of the fuel tank. Never wait until the fuel warning light comes on before you start hunting for a gas station. You may not find one in time, particularly if it’s late at night or you are driving off the beaten track.
A flat battery is another common cause of car death syndrome. Batteries don’t last forever, so if you find that your car is taking an increasingly long time to start on cold mornings, change the battery immediately.
If your car is old, make sure you are a member of an auto recovery service. They might not be able to fix your car, but at least they will tow it to the nearest garage.