It's never an ideal situation when your car breaks down. You can typically expect expensive repairs, shattered plans, crazy logistics, and no shortage of embarrassment. Besides that, breakdowns can leave you stranded in a precarious and potentially dangerous position. Breakdowns happen for a variety of reasons from serious issues like a failing transmission to simple ones like running out of gas.
Hopefully, you never experience a breakdown. But if you do, your story surely won't be as crazy as some of the worst breakdowns of all time.
The Failed Cross-Country Trip in an Antique VW Beetle
Owning a vintage Volkswagen Beetle is challenging enough without taking it across the country. One owner decided to attempt such a journey with his 1974 Beetle and promptly broke down three times in the first 60 miles. The first breakdown occurred when the brakes seized on the way to an auto parts store. The second was the result of overheating as the car’s cooling fan caught a bundle of wires and shredded them to bits. And the third happened when the bolts holding the driver’s side front caliper let go. Talk about bad luck.
A Trans Am, GTO, and a Storm
Another story comes from an owner who was driving his 1977 Trans Am with his wife and daughter at night during a rainstorm. Suddenly, the Trans Am died. With no way to move it, he sprinted to his nearby house to get his 1967 Pontiac GTO and push the Trans Am home. The second breakdown occurred soon after when the owner's wife was left stranded as aged plugs to the distributor cap fell off. Then, during the torrential rainstorm, the GTO's shift linkage snapped, causing the owner to crawl under the car in inches-deep water to fix it.
Two Chevrolet Bel Airs and a Wedding Reception
A husband and wife team with a pair of custom Chevrolet Bel Airs drove from Maryland to Chicago for their wedding reception. On the way, they encountered a comically-long list of car troubles: wheel studs sheering off, closed repair stores, broken shift levers, tow trucks, electrical problems, forgotten spare parts, a wife who was pregnant, and a missed birthday. They still managed to get home 15 minutes before the first guests arrived at their reception!
How to Avoid Car Breakdowns
Properly caring for your vehicle is key to avoiding breakdowns. While the following tips can’t guarantee you’ll avoid breakdowns altogether, they will keep your vehicle in great shape and reduce the odds of you being stranded on the roadside:
- Keep up with regular maintenance - Bringing your vehicle in for regularly scheduled maintenance is one of the best ways to keep your car running correctly. Whether it’s warranty work required by the manufacturer or getting repairs done promptly, a well-maintained car will keep you on the road safely for years. A great way to mitigate repair costs, especially for older vehicles, is with Protect My Car's Ambassador Policy.
- Perform consistent oil changes - Oil is your vehicle’s lifeblood. Changing it on a regular basis and using high-quality oil are the easiest and least expensive investments you can make when it comes to your vehicle.
- Know what you’re getting into - Considering buying a used car? Make sure you have a clear understanding of what condition it’s in and if there are any known issues with that model. The more you know about the car and any problems it may have, the greater your chances are of avoiding breakdowns.
- Stay on top of recalls - While manufacturers do their utmost to create quality products, mistakes happen. It’s important to know if there is an active recall out for your vehicle and to get any required work done immediately. The NHTSA’s helpful recall lookup tool can confirm if your car needs to be repaired as part of a recall.
- Keep yourself covered with an extended warranty - A quality extended warranty can help you save significant money on costly repairs after your vehicle’s original manufacturer warranty expires. If your car is less than 10 years old and has fewer than 125,000 miles, it’s worth looking into a warranty plan from Protect My Car.
It Pays to Care for Your Car
While no-injury car breakdown stories like these can be humorous, some unfortunately don't have happy endings. Beyond inconvenience, getting stranded can be genuinely dangerous. There are lessons to be learned from any kind of breakdown, like how proper maintenance can help keep you off the side of the road, and how an extended warranty from Protect My Car can help get you home safely if you end up there.