Common Mechanical Vehicle Faults That You Can Prevent


You are driving late at night and your car stops running, forcing you to pull off the road in unfamiliar territory. You have just become a statistic: In any given year, road assistance service providers receive thousands of calls for help from New Zealanders stuck along a roadway somewhere.

Vehicle faults can be extremely inconveniencing, stressful and expensive to repair, so it’s a good idea to have knowledge about how you can prevent them. Adhering to the recommended maintenance schedule and procedures intended to prevent automotive faults will help your car last longer, perform better, suffer fewer problems and therefore require fewer repairs over its lifespan.

That said, if you’re a car owner in Lower Hutt, NZ, it’s important that you know the reasons cars break down. Of course, the reasons are as numerous as there are parts of a vehicle. But some common vehicle faults account for the bulk of those car breakdowns. 

The Most Common Vehicle Faults And How You Can Prevent Them

Flat Tyre

Tyre failure is a common problem, which is caused by a number of factors, including: heat, valve stem leakage, tyre bead leakage, wear and tear, as well as road and human hazards. To prevent this problem, be careful where you drive your vehicle to avoid any sharp objects or other hazards that could puncture your tires. You should also ensure that your tyres are properly maintained, and have a qualified mechanic Lower Hutt professional inspect them during any routine maintenance.

In addition, it is recommended to regularly check your tyres’ air pressure, so they are not under- or over-inflated – which can cause the tyre treads to become damaged due to friction. Your mechanic in Lower Hutt can show you how to maintain the correct air pressure in your tyres to extend their useful life, help your vehicle to handle better and safer, and allow you to save money on fuel.

What’s more, you should have your wheels aligned regularly to prevent uneven tyre wear and problems associated with unaligned wheels.

Faulty Starter

Common starter system problems include: loose connections, corroded terminals, and a bad, worn-out or damaged system component. When any of these problems happen, starting your car may become more difficult or it may even refuse to start. This can occur in unpredictable places like when you’re in the middle of traffic!

To prevent these starter faults from occurring, you should perform periodic checks on the different components of your starter system to see if anything needs fixing or replacing. These checks should include: inspecting cables and wires for corrosion, inspecting the starter solenoid for any damage or fault, checking the starter motor, testing the starter motor for proper operation, inspecting the engine flywheel, and ensuring the battery is working properly and has enough power to operate the starter motor.

Dead Battery

One of the reasons why your car might not start is a dead battery. It happens when your car’s battery becomes too old, or if there’s a parasitic battery drain (something that’s on when it’s supposed to be off is drawing power). Although your car battery can last up to five years, it recommended to replace it every three years or so.

Signs your car battery is old and needs replacing include: the battery needs to be jump started multiple times (three times or more), you’re regularly forced to put extra effort into starting the car, the engine cranks but doesn’t start, and the engine won’t start at all and there’s no crank or lights.
If your battery is relatively new and there are no loose, corroded, calcified or broken terminals, then there could be a parasitic draw. One sign of a parasitic battery draw is if one day it starts fine but the next day it won’t. When this happens, you should take your vehicle to a professional auto electrical Lower Hutt professional to have your alternator and other components tested and changed/repaired.

Alternator Fault

Your car’s alternator keeps your battery charged while ensuring that electrical systems run smoothly. When the alternator develops problems, you won’t be able to start and/or run it. The main factor when it comes to alternator problems is age and you need to have it have it replaced if yours has been in service for years.

Signs your alternator is wearing out and needs replacing include: your vehicle is having trouble getting started and just turns and turns before starting up, dimmed accessory lights, dead batteries, low voltage output, burnt-rubber smell, grinding or whining noise, high-pitched squealing noise (from the belt), and dashboard alternator warning or indicator light.
Many of these signs may be confused with those of a dead battery, and you should get your auto electrical Lower Hutt mechanic to look at it and determine if it needs to be replaced.

Faulty Spark Plugs

Spark plugs are prone to wear and tear and can fail. A failed or worn-out spark plug can cause your vehicle to run at extremely low speeds, consume more fuel, and produce irritating wheezing sounds. To prevent this problem, regularly have your vehicle inspected and tuned up. The tune up should include replacement of spark plugs (if need be).

Replacement intervals for conventional spark plugs vary between 30,000 and 50,000 miles; but platinum- or iridium-tipped spark plugs can be replaced anywhere from 50,000 to 120,000 miles.

Fluid Leak

The fluids that most commonly drip from a vehicle are: water, coolant, motor oil, transmission fluid, gear oil or differential fluid, and power steering fluid. If these fluid leaks go unnoticed or remain unattended, serious damage can be caused to your car’s transmission, brakes, or engine.

Checking your car’s fluids regularly and ensuring they are always at the recommended levels can help you prevent problems associated with fluid leaks. You can refer to your owner’s manual to determine the right fluid levels of your car.

If you spot any fresh leaks, have an experienced mechanic inspect it immediately to prevent further damage.

Oil Leak

Oil leak is a common vehicle problem that occurs from under the vehicle, and can cause ugly stains on your parking lot or driveway. Typically, it starts off small then it increases eventually getting out of hand. Oil leaks occur when the plug is missing or misaligned, or if your oil filter is not working properly. To prevent this problem, you should have your oil filter changed regularly, and ensure your vehicle is maintained or tuned up at regular intervals.

Radiator Leak

A radiator leak is characterised by leakage of the coolant, and can be an indication of air conditioning failure. Performing regular checks of the air conditioning system, including all of the car’s connectors to ensure they are not damaged or loose, may help prevent this problem. Any damaged or loose connectors should be repaired immediately. It is also advisable to arrange a maintenance schedule that includes putting in fresh fluid with anti-corrosives to clean up the radiator.

Worn-Out Wiper Blades

Having worn-out or damaged wipers and having a washer tank that is empty can greatly compromise your visibility when driving in a snowstorm or heavy rain or in the glaring sun with an extremely dirty windscreen. A torn or worn-out wiper blade may also cause damage to the windshield when it rubs on it. To prevent this, be sure to repair and/or replace the wipers at least twice a year; and always keep the windshield-washer reservoir full.

Transmission Issues

The car’s transmission is a complex mechanical system that is responsible for the application of power from the engine to the drive shaft. Because it consists of numerous moving and interacting components that produce lots of heat and friction, it experiences more wear and tear over time compared to most other parts of a vehicle.

This can lead to a range of transmission problems, such as lack of response, whining or clunking sounds, fluid leaks/low fluid levels, burning smell, failure to go into gear, unusual noises, gears slipping, dragging clutch, and more. To prevent these potentially costly problems, you should have your car inspected and maintained regularly as set out in your car’s owner’s manual.

Bad Brakes

Brakes are, without a doubt, the main factor in ensuring the safety of your car. Common brake problems often reported by owners include: squeaking or grinding noises, vehicle pulling to one side when you hit the brakes, and a brake pedal that feels too soft. To prevent these issues and others, you should have your automotive braking system, including brake pads and rotors, inspected and tuned up every two years. The brake fluid must be changed after 2-3 years, depending on the stipulations set out in your owner’s manual.

It’s worth noting that your car’s brakes are one of the components that will be checked when obtaining a warrant of fitness Lower Hutt label. A warrant of fitness (or WoF) is a regular inspection that is designed to ensure that your car meets the required safety standards. You must obtain a valid WoF label in order to be allowed to drive your vehicle on our roads here in New Zealand. You can find more information about WoF here:

Engine Overheating

When the needle on your engine temperature gauge creeps up to red levels, it means your engine is overheating. This happens when the coolant gets depleted or if there are leaks or faulty hoses or a fault in the radiator fan. Regular preventative maintenance of your vehicle can help prevent this common problem.

Motor Tech: Your Local Mechanic Lower Hutt

Are you looking for an auto electrical Lower Hutt expert, warrant of fitness Lower Hutt or a local mechanic Lower Hutt service?

At Motor Tech, we are proud to be your local one stop shop for all your car servicing, WoF and car repairs. We have a highly trained team of registered mechanics that are widely experienced in the use of the latest techniques and quality products to address all automotive servicing needs. We can service and repair all kinds of vehicles, including Japanese and European vehicles – large or small.

Our workshop is fully equipped with the latest diagnostic tools and equipment, and we are MTA and Autosure Approved. We also offer affordable commercial fleet servicing and maintenance options. Whether you need repairs on your Japanese car, auto electrical work on your European car or a service on your commercial truck we have you covered.

To find out more about our services, including tyres repairs and replacement, auto electrical work and WOFs, please call us on 04 568 3153 or visit our website –

Contact our friendly team at Motor Tech to make a booking!