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Drivers urged to check engine component that could 'cause catastrophic damage' if it fails


With more motorists preparing to go on longer journeys, The AA has warned drivers of some of the most common causes for breakdowns and how they can prevent them.

As the summer approaches, many drivers are getting ready to go on holiday or see friends and family in different parts of the country.

However, to avoid breaking down whilst away from home, a spokesperson for The AA warned drivers to make sure that their vehicle’s engine components are in good condition, warning that a quick check of the timing belt can help to prevent serious trouble.

They advised: “Timing belts (or chains) are critical components in an engine, and a failure can cause catastrophic damage.

“Regular servicing, including timely replacement based on manufacturer recommendations, can prevent these issues.

Sometimes referred to as the cambelt, timing belts are a key component in many popular engines, making sure the crankshaft and camshaft are correctly synchronised.

In most cases, drivers will need to get the timing belt in their vehicle replaced every 10 years or 60,000 miles, with the process typically costing around £350.

If it is not replaced in time, the belt can become brittle and snap, causing serious damage to key components, such as the cylinders and valves.

The AA also warned that another common cause for breakdowns on long journeys is flat or faulty batteries, with 630,000 motorists left stranded due to the fault in 2023.

In most cases, battery issues are caused by drivers who mostly use their vehicle for short trips, meaning it is not being charged effectively.

However, if the vehicle is experiencing other unusual symptoms, such as dim headlights, it could be an issue with the alternator, the device that charges the battery.

Finally, when taking a long trip, the AA warned drivers to always keep their car keys in a sensible place to prevent being locked out of their vehicle.

Whilst many motorists believe they will never lose them, the vehicle supply professional OSV found that 47 percent of drivers misplace their keys on a regular basis.

Generally, it is a good idea to have a second set of car keys in the home, which can be used until the main key is found and can be instrumental if another needs to be cut.

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