Nov 052014

breakdownThe Institute of Advanced Motorists knows that nobody wants to be left stranded on the hard shoulder, but if you don’t take care of your car there’s every possibility you will be. Here are their latest tips to guide you through looking after your car, because basic maintenance goes a long way.

Charged battery

A flat battery is one of the most common reasons for a breakdown, so make sure your car battery is properly secured with a clamp in the battery tray, because a loose battery can damage the delicate lead plates. To ensure the battery is charged up, the fan belt needs to be tight. So if you hear a screeching noise after you start the engine you will need to tighten the belt or possibly replace it.

Drivers commuting short distances who use their lights and heater can drain out the battery power. However a longer drive will recharge it fully and give the car a good workout. Ensure the top of your battery is kept clean and dry to stop charge leaking away. Do bear in mind that the car battery will wear out, so be prepared to replace it if it goes flat or is more than five years old.

Coolant level

Water for the radiator must be mixed with the right type of anti-freeze all year round to stop corrosion inside the engine – a common cause of blown head gaskets. Make sure you check the level weekly when the engine is cold. If you find you are topping up far too often, this may be a sign of a leak that needs to be fixed by a mechanic.


The first sub-zero day of autumn brings a flurry of frozen engines, caused by too little anti-freeze.  Check you have enough frost protection by removing the filler cap. Siphon a little coolant into a small container and put it in your freezer overnight.  If it freezes, you need more antifreeze.

Oil checks

When you check your oil, it’s important to be on a level ground. It’s not unusual for modern engines to use a little oil – some are designed that way – but a sudden increase in oil consumption is a sign that there’s a problem.  It’s also important to use the correct oil for topping up, so make sure the oil you use meets the requirements listed in the owner’s handbook.  Blown turbo chargers and broken timing chains are possible results of using the wrong oil.

Brake fluid

Modern cars will have a warning light to alert you of a low fluid level, but it’s still worth taking a look at the reservoir while you’re checking the other things under the bonnet.  The level will drop slightly as the brakes wear down, but it should not fall so low that it needs topping up. When new brakes are fitted, the fluid will return to the full level.  If the level has dropped below the minimum, the warning light should come on; get the brakes checked because there may be a fluid leak.

Why not make life easier for yourself by protecting your car with Warranty Direct’s Car Breakdown Recovery including Accident Assistance!

Feb 152011

AXALeading automotive insurer, Warranty Direct, is now on hand to assist motorists stranded at the roadside, after launching a new breakdown recovery product.

With millions of cars breaking down every year, Warranty Direct’s BreakdownCare service offers peace of mind starting at £33 a year at

Operated by AXA Assistance, Warranty Direct’s premium recovery service, BreakdownCare Plus, offers even more protection for £99, including roadside assistance and nationwide recovery anywhere in the UK, home recovery in the UK and 90-day European cover.

To celebrate the launch of the new product, Warranty Direct will offer a free BreakdownCare policy to the first 100 customers after 9am on Tuesday, February 15 who buy a 12-month warranty online at

Further benefits from BreakdownCare Plus include assistance following an accident, windscreen repair call-out and tyre assistance, as well as legal advice.

Warranty Direct managing director, Duncan McClure Fisher, said: “Warranty Direct has built its reputation on providing the genuine peace of mind that comes from knowing that, if something goes wrong with their car, they won’t be burdened with an unexpected and unwanted garage bill.

“We are now happy to be able to roll out the same level of service in the event that your car breaks down and you need assistance.”

Warranty Direct is also offering advice on the simple maintenance tasks that could help customers to avoid breaking down in the first place.

  • Make sure your car is fully serviced every year
  • Check your car’s oil and water levels at least once a month and make sure they are topped up if necessary
  • Check your battery once a month
  • Check your tyres regularly – 1.6mm is the legal limit for tyre tread depth and make sure your tyres are inflated to the correct level as set out in your car’s manual

Mr McClure Fisher added: “It’s not always possible to avoid a breakdown, but these simple jobs will help you to avoid any unnecessary problems.”

For more information about BreakdownCare, BreakdownCare Plus or any of Warranty Direct’s policies, call 0118 971 9700 or visit

Apr 292009

posesHI_COLOR.0003More than half of Britain’s motorists would struggle to pay if their car broke down, according to research from leading insurance specialist, Warranty Direct.

As the credit crunch continues to ravage the economy, 53 percent of drivers admit that the tightening of belts means they can ill afford the average repair bill of £273. According to Warranty Direct data, one in three will suffer a mechanical failure annually*.

Although nearly three quarters (72%) of the 3,000 owners surveyed claim that they would be lost without their cars, more than 5 million said budgets were so tight that they wouldn’t be able to stump up anything at all to keep their car on the road**.

“This is worrying – some motorists are just burying their heads in the sand,” said Warranty Direct’s Duncan McClure Fisher. “In the short term you might save a bit of cash by not servicing your car, but eventually it is going to need work doing on it and you’re only increasing the likelihood that it’s going to be a very expensive repair job on a ‘mobility-fatal’ part.”

Most expensive parts to repair

Part Average cost Maximum cost
Auto transmission £987.17 £2,726.26
Manual transmission £859.21 £4,869.62
Engine £630.64 £5,297.70
Air conditioning unit £422.66 £1,421.82


The research also found that a third of owners are now considering extending their service interval this year to save money.

Ironically, drivers in rural Northern Ireland and the North West, who say they are most dependant on their cars (84% and 80% respectively), are also the least able to pay in the event of a breakdown, with 59% of motorists in both areas unable to meet the average repair cost.

Car owners in more affluent areas like London, the South East and East Anglia, are the most likely to be able to pay for ‘mobility-fatal’ failures, with drivers in the capital the most comfortable with the loss of their cars, at 2 in 5.