4% Increase in Car Breakdowns Reported in 2016

The number of Irish motorists experiencing a breakdown has increased by 4.3% year on year according to AA Ireland’s Annual Breakdown Review. This follows a 5% increase in the number of breakdowns record in 2015.

According to recent figures from Transport Infrastructure Ireland there has been a 3.4% year-on-year increase in the number of cars on Irish roads, with increases of over 10% recorded in some areas, and the AA has recorded a corresponding increase in the number of breakdowns.

“More cars on the road is a positive thing as it generally relates to an increase in the number of people in employment. It mean the AA is busier though and we have seen a rise in breakdowns.” says Conor Faughnan, Director of Consumer Affairs at The AA. “The news of an increase in the number of cars on Irish roads will come as no shock to those that regularly drive as, for example, anyone who uses the M50 as part of their commute will have noticed increased congestion in recent times.”

The country-wide analysis of almost 130,000 AA rescue assignments also reveals how motorists are continuing to wrangle with worn-out batteries, which have caused around one in four breakdowns this year. However, the mild weather experienced so far this winter has led to a reduction in the number of breakdowns caused by battery issues.

While over 12,000 battery related breakdowns occurred between January and April 2016, this figure dropped by over 30% to 8,021 between September and December 2016. However, because low temperatures and increased usage of a car’s electrics can increase the risk of a battery fault occurring, the AA is advising motorists to ensure their battery is in proper running order.

Almost 18,000 motorists contacted AA Rescue due to a puncture or otherwise defective tyre, an increase of over 1,000 motorists when compared to the last commissioned review. Earlier this year, the motoring organisation called on motorists to take extra time to check the thread left on their tyres, as well as checking for cuts or damage as an unexpected tyre blowout while driving may increase the risk of being involved in a collision.

Malfunctioning engines have also prompted motorists to call for AA assistance over the last 12 months. 3,997 engine related breakdowns occurring throughout 2016, an increase of just over 250 breakdowns when compared to AA Ireland’s 2015 Annual Breakdown Review.

“For one reason or another this year has seen a significant increase in the number of people purchasing second-hand cars, particularly from the UK. Whether you’re buying a new car, a second-hand car or indeed not changing cars at all, it is important to have your vehicle services regularly and to carry out your own maintenance checks in between services,” Faughnan added. “While regular checks may not fully eliminate the risk of a breakdown, maintaining your car properly greatly reduces your chances of finding yourself stuck on the side of the road.”

Among the less popular breakdown causes were suspension issues, worn timing belts, and lighting problems which, when combined, accounted for just over 1% of breakdowns.

Fig 1. BREAKDOWNS BY CLASS, COMPONENT, SELECTED FAULTS, during 30/11/2015 to 30/11/2016

Top 3 faults by class

Class Number of Incidents % of total
Electrical 35,328 27.32%
Steering/Suspension/Brakes 24,724% 19.32%
Engine and Exhaust 13,036 10.08%


Component Number of incidents % of total
Battery 28882 22.34
Starter Motor 3058 2.36
EBCU 127 0.10
Lights 464 0.36
Tyre 17979 13.90
Suspension 267 0.21
Steering Lock 411 0.32
Brake Calliper 420 0.325
Handbrake 127 0.10
Engine 3997 3.10
Exhaust 387 0.30
Turbo Charger 662 0.51
Timing Belt 599 0.46

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