It's important to watch out for the signs that may indicate that your car is about to break down. Here are two such signs.

The vehicle's electrics are malfunctioning

All of the electrical components inside your car (such as the lights, the windshield wipers and the air conditioning system) are powered by the battery. The battery, in turn, is powered by the alternator.

As such, if you notice a change in the performance of these electrical components (for example, if the windshield wipers begin to move at a much slower rate than they normally do or if the dashboard lights become very dim), it could mean that there is a fault within the alternator.

It is absolutely essential to seek out the advice of a mechanic experienced in alternator repair if you notice any of the above-mentioned electrical issues.

The reason for this is as follows: if the fault within the alternator causes it to fail when you are driving the vehicle, the battery will lose its charge within a few minutes and your car will stop moving.

Even if you have jump leads, you will not be able to recharge the battery and continue on with your road journey, as without a functioning alternator, the battery will soon go flat again after being jump-started.

The engine is showing signs of overheating

If you notice water vapour emerging from underneath your car bonnet after a long drive or if you can detect a burning smell when the car is switched on, your vehicle's engine may be overheating.

It is important to act quickly if you notice these signs, as excess heat in this part of your vehicle could not only leave you stranded on the roadside but could also result in your engine sustaining major, irreparable damage.

Heat can warp many of the most important components inside the engine block (such as the cylinder heads), and in doing so, can lead to sudden engine failure. This type of damage can be difficult and very expensive to resolve.

There are many reasons why your engine may be overheating; however, it is usually the result of a leak in either the radiator (which houses the coolant that absorbs the heat produced by the engine's moving components) or in the engine oil gasket (this oil lubricates the engine's parts and thus prevents the production of friction-induced heat).

In either case, it is usually easy to resolve the leak by simply sealing up the hole in the radiator or gasket.