Arrive Alive

Involuntary

WHAT IF MECHANICAL FAILURE CAUSES THE CAR TO STOP?

Involuntary stop

What do you do when your car suddenly stops? Reach for your cellphone, certainly. Meanwhile, it's always a good idea to try to find the fault. If the breakdown is accompanied by clanking noises, or if some of the wheels have locked up, then it's most likely a serious problem. If there was no noise then there's a good chance that something small has gone wrong.

The first step is to take a good look under the bonnet for broken wires, a broken fuel pipe or any other obviously broken or leaking component. If there's no obvious fault, then you can swing into action by performing the following checks:

  1. What does the fuel gauge show? Running out of fuel happens to everybody occasionally.
  2. Check for a high-tension spark. Remove one of the plug leads and hold it close to a metal part of the cylinder head while somebody else winds the starter, with the ignition switched on. Ensure that you are not touching any metallic part of the plug lead, or you may get a nasty shock, literally. You should see an intense blue spark, if it's weak and yellow, or if there is no sign of a spark, inspect the rotor arm underneath the distributor cap, ensuring that it is not broken, or worn out. Also check that the carbon brush in the center of the cap is making contact with the rotor arm. If these items are in good condition, look at the low tension side.
  3. The low-tension wire runs from the ignition coil to the side of the distributor. It is a thin wire that often breaks off just where it enters the distributor. If it is intact, and if the car has an old-fashioned distributor with points, then you should take the distributor cap off and open the points slightly with a screwdriver while the ignition is switched on. A small spark should jump as you open the points. If the spark is visible then you can normally assume the low-tension side is fine, but if it is absent then there is some malfunction in the wiring. If the points are open when you remove the cap then you have to rotate the engine by means of the starter until they're in the closed position, before you try to open them.
  4. The last check is to make sure that fuel is reaching the carburetor. Remove the top part of the air cleaner, and see if fuel squirts into the carb throat when you move the arm attached to the throttle butterfly.

These checks will normally locate a significant portion of the causes of roadside stoppages.

Tips provided by CARToday.com/CAR Magazine

Loading...

Search Road Safety Articles

Latest Pages

Safe storage of chemicals vital to avoid disastrous fires

Safe storage of chemicals vital to avoid disastrous fires

In the wake of the disaster at the northern Chinese port of Tianjin, Deidré Penfold, executive director of Chemical and Allied Industries Association (CAIA), reiterates that proper chemical storage is required to minimise the hazards associated with leaks, spills and accidental mixing of incompatible

Read More

Toll Roads in South Africa

Toll Roads in South Africa

Why have toll roads? Roads form the main artery of economic competitiveness, growth and social development. To Build roads costs billions of rands. Toll roads assist us in meeting the demands of social services, which are important for the growth of our country. Toll roads accelerate the availability

Read More

Cracked Windshield, Safe Driving and the Law

Cracked Windshield, Safe Driving and the Law

Windscreen damage remains a hazard and reality experienced by all South African motorists. Although windshield damage can result from a variety of causes, the most common is flying rocks and debris cast off from loads of commercial trucks as well as debris projected from road surfaces under construction. We

Read More

Shatterprufe and Road Safety

Shatterprufe and Road Safety

In South Africa, most locally manufactured vehicles are fitted with an OE windscreen. The legislation also states that vehicle repairs should return the vehicle to its original state. Shatterprufe windscreens exceed SABS standards and are manufactured according to OE specifications. Shatterprufe also

Read More

Windscreen Diagnostics

Windscreen Diagnostics

On the Arrive Alive website, we find a detailed discussion on the importance of the windscreen for road safety. We emphasize the importance of visibility through the windscreen for the roadworthiness of the vehicle as well as the importance of the windscreen for the structural integrity of the car. It

Read More

Chip Repair and Windscreen Safety

Chip Repair and Windscreen Safety

Introduction Have you been driving with a small chip on your windscreen, fearful that it may expand into a running crack along with the windscreen? We decided to approach some of the experts for more information as to how and when such a chip can be repaired and when a windscreen would need to

Read More

Load More Pages

Partners

View All