Why and where people break down

break down

There’s never a convenient time for your vehicle to break down but most people break down some time. The most common reason in NSW, according to NRMA, is flat batteries. In Britain, the top reason for AA callouts is tyre-related, ahead of battery faults.

Top 3 locations

An NRMA survey found the top three most common places to break down in NSW are Port Macquarie, Blacktown and Sydney CBD. These are the top 10:

  • Port Macquarie
  • Blacktown
  • Sydney CBD
  • Castle Hill
  • Baulkham Hills
  • Coffs Harbour
  • Mascot
  • Mosman
  • Randwick
  • Matraville.

It’s no surprise more breakdowns happen in holiday locations, near airports, or in heavily populated areas.

Age of vehicle

The age of your vehicle does play a part in breaking down. The average age in Australia is now 10 years:

  • Vehicles aged 4-15 years make up most calls for help
  • Cars aged 12 accounted for most calls in the year to March 2017
  • Cars manufactured in 2007, 2006, 2003 and 2010 came next, in that order.

No spare tyre

Did you know a third of new cars today have no spare tyre? Manufacturers do this to save on space and weight, but it may seem like false economy. Some drivers don’t even know if their vehicle has a spare tyre. Experts say many motorists today lack the confidence to change a tyre, even if they know how to do it.

Many big SUVs have spare tyres that are heavy to lift. This means motorists have to call out for help, even though they have a spare tyre.

We don’t know how

A 2014 study of younger Sydney drivers, 18-24, found only 58% thought they could change a tyre, compared to 74% of drivers over 50. A fifth of younger drivers did not know how to change a tyre at all.

It appears practical knowledge of vehicles is equally limited in the UK:

  • Over half of drivers can’t fit a spare wheel if they get a puncture
  • One in five can’t even open the bonnet
  • More than half have no idea how to adjust the steering wheel.

It’s no surprise people are becoming less knowledgeable about how their cars work. Even the more mechanically minded claim computer software has made their knowledge obsolete. Even so, it’s a pity driving tests don’t include at least the possibility of breakdown and how to carry out basic tasks.

Corrina Baird

Writer and expert

Corrina used to lend her car to her kids and discovered first hand what Ls, Ps and demerits mean for greenslips. After 20 years of writing and research in financial services, she’s an expert in the NSW CTP scheme. Read more about Corrina

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