Top 8 car breakdown problems in Singapore
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Here are the top 8 car breakdown problems that you might face, and how they can be resolved. With this handy guide, you won't be caught off guard!

Category: Car Maintenance Advice


Whether you are still shopping for a car or currently own and drive one, you need to know about the possible car breakdown scenarios that you might encounter. While issues like a weak battery will only cause some minor inconvenience, severe problems can affect your safety, or involve hefty repair bills!

So, we've found the top eight car problems that Singaporean car drivers face. Read on to find out all about them so you know what to expect.
 
 
1. Weak or dead battery

A dead battery is one sure way to ruin your Monday
Let's start off with the most common issue faced by drivers. Even if you haven't faced it, chances are you have seen someone trying to jump start a car, or the scenario being portrayed in TV shows or movies.

The car's battery is also known as a starter battery - its main purpose is to provide the juice to let you start your car at the turn of a key, or the push of a button. When the battery fails, or runs out of charge, you won't be able to start your car.

Symptoms: Unable to start car, or weak cranking when attempting to start car

Common causes: Old/worn battery, parasitic electric drain (electrical problems, gadgets such as dashcam running perpetually), faulty alternator, or leaving car unused for an extended period

Expected repairs: Charge the battery (if it is drained, but in good condition), replace the battery, resolve parasitic electrical drain, or replace alternator
 
 
2. Faulty alternator

Think a dead battery is bad enough, well it can be worse - like a dead alternator kind of worse
Think of the alternator as the charger and main source of electricity for your car. If the alternator goes kaput, the only source of electricity will be the battery, which will eventually go flat and cause you to be stranded at the side of the road.

The alternator is subjected to wear and tear and will need to be replaced from time to time. In some cases, it might not fail completely right away, resulting in slighter symptoms in the form of electrical gremlins such as flickering lights. You should get your car checked if you suspect the alternator is on the verge of failure.

Symptoms: Flickering/weak interior/head lights, weak cranking when attempting to start car, unable to start car, or whining noise from alternator

Common causes: Normal wear and tear

Expected repairs: Replace or repair alternator
 
 
3. Engine overheating

Engine overheating is often caused by an issue with the cooling system
Yet another common sight on movies and TV shows. Whenever there's a car breakdown scene, it's likely to feature a car with its bonnet up and steam billowing from the engine bay. Engine overheating can be caused by a multitude of reasons, some of which can point towards serious (expensive) issues.

Overheating is often caused by low coolant level, however, being a sealed system, a drop in coolant level is often an indication of other issues such as leaks or engine woes. If you find your car overheating, the smart thing to do would be to stop and allow the engine to cool down before checking on the coolant level and topping it up if necessary (water will work for a temporary fix).

You should never open the radiator cap immediately, as the high pressure in the system can cause extremely hot coolant to shoot out, causing severe injuries. The troubleshooting of an overheating engine should be done by a professional.

Symptoms: Temperature gauge shooting up to the red zone, car air-con suddenly stop blowing out cool air, radiator cap/coolant overflow tank cap bursts open (loud pop sound), or engine stalls and can't be restarted

Common causes: Leaks in cooling system, engine gasket problems, or electric fan problems

Expected repairs: Replace leaking/faulty cooling system component (i.e. radiator, hoses and fans), engine top overhaul or gasket replacement
 
 
4. Excessive engine oil consumption

Engine oil consumption can be the sign of severe and expensive issues that need to be sorted
As cliché as it sounds, engine oil is the lifeblood of an engine. Not only does it serve to lubricate the various rotating and reciprocating metal-on-metal components that make an engine tick, it also carries away heat and contaminants.

If your car's engine consumes an excessive amount of oil, it is likely to be a cause for concern. It can also result in low oil level, which will surely make things worse in the long run, accelerating wear and tear of engine components.

Symptoms: Low engine oil, low engine oil pressure warning, overheating engine, or sluggish engine performance

Common causes: Worn engine seals causing oil leaks, or worn engine internal components such as piston rings and engine bearings

Expected repairs: Engine oil leaks and consumption will often require the replacement of seals and parts that can be difficult to reach, and hence are expected to be costly.
 
 
5. Transmission problems

Proper maintenance can prolong the lifespan of automatic transmissions
In the past most cars were equipped with manual transmissions, these are generally trouble-free and would only require routine clutch replacements and oil changes for them to last long. These days, complicated automatic transmissions (CVT transmissions, Dual-Clutch transmissions) are the norm.

While advanced, these transmissions are sensitive towards its maintenance routine. Other factors such as driving style or particular car models might also contribute to the premature failure of an automatic transmission

Symptoms: Transmission 'slipping' (feels like power isn't being properly transmitted to the wheels), jerky, or hesitant gear changes

Common causes: Inadequate maintenance (transmission fluids not regularly changed), or driving style (aggressive driving, start stop traffic)

Expected repairs: Transmission problems will often require its disassembly to rectify, expect to spend a fair bit for labour and parts, in some cases, sourcing for a replacement might make more sense
 
 
6. Driveshaft issues

Driveshafts tend to wear out over time and start to produce knocking and clunking sounds
The driveshafts' job is to transmit the power from a car's gearbox to its wheels. As the wheels are not fixed in one position, driveshafts often incorporate one or more universal joints or couplings. These joints will wear out over time and result in excessive noise or vibration.

Symptoms: Clicking or knocking noise, loud clunking noise, or vibrations or shaking from underneath the car

Common causes: Regular wear and tear, or damaged driveshaft boots that allow dirt and debris to contaminate the joints

Expected repairs: Replace or repair the driveshaft
 
 
7. Abnormal handling

Handling issues make a car scary and dangerous to drive - make sure you sort them out!
Handling issues are not to be slighted, as they directly affect the safety of your car. These can be as minor as vibrations on your steering wheel, to severe cases where your car’s handling becomes unpredictable. Uneven tyre wear is yet another tell-tale sign that something is wrong with the undercarriage of your car.

Symptoms: Car pulling to one side, unpredictable handling, steering feels loose and disconnected, squeaking or knocking sounds from undercarriage, or uneven tyre wear

Common causes: Regular wear and tear, wheel alignment issues, or impact on wheel (striking kerb or driving over potholes)

Expected repairs: Replace worn/damaged suspension components (bushings, suspension arms, steering rack), or get a wheel alignment done
 
 
8. Brake issues

What is power without stopping power? We don't want to find out!
The brakes of any vehicle are components that are of utmost importance. Being unable to slow down, or stop a vehicle when there's a need to, will likely end with a disastrous outcome.

Drivers should always ensure that their brakes are in perfect working condition properly maintained to ensure their safety.

Symptoms: Vibrations when braking, loud noises when braking, longer stopping distance than before, car pulls to a side when braking, car judders when braking, or any other abnormalities when braking

Common causes: Regular wear and tear, neglecting maintenance, or harsh driving conditions (snow, off-road usage, fording through floods)

Expected repairs: Replace worn or damaged brake components (brake pads replacement, rotors replacement, ABS system repair), change/bleed brake fluid
 
 
Here are some related articles that might interest you

7 signs you need a car battery replacement

9 workshops that can repair your complex gearbox & transmission issues

The six most common myths when it comes to brakes

12 things you should stop doing right now to avoid killing your car
 
 
Want to own and drive a car without worry? Buy one with sgCarmart Warranty and drive with peace of mind!

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