For many motorists, nothing is as scary as having your car ground to a halt while on the road, especially on heavy traffic routes. But you may not avoid this and here are some of the things you can do to get back rolling.
It was during the evening rush hour at the Jinja Road junction at Nakawa when Nobert Mugisha’s car shut down in the middle of the road. This, however, came with loud intense hooting and impatience from other motorists, some of whom Mugisha recalls were quick to conclude that he had probably run out of fuel, yet he had just refuelled at Shell Fuel Station along the Lugogo Bypass, which is a few meters from the junction.
Blocked or dirty fuel filter
“My fuel gauge read that I had half a tank of fuel. When the engine went off, I tried to restart it but it failed. When I called my mechanic, he found out that the fuel filter was blocked with dirt and when it was replaced, the engine started running again,” Mugisha recalls.
Another motorist, Anthony Kawalya, a special hire driver, run out of fuel as he drove up one of the steep slopes of Naguru, a Kampala suburb. Unfortunately, in his case, the fuel gauge was defunct that he could not be able to read the gauge, much as he was driving a Toyota Premio, many of which are known for being economical in terms of fuel consumption.
Edgar Kaweesa, a mechanic at CKK Garage in Wandegeya, recommends that the first thing to do when your car engine goes off when driving is looking at your fuel gauge. This, he reasons, is the most common cause of a car stopping suddenly. “If it turns out that you did not have enough fuel, you may need to refuel. Some cars such as the Toyota Land Cruiser V8 may require certain fuel levels for their engines to start again and this comes at a higher cost,” he says.
Old ignition switch
In some instances, Kaweesa says having an old or lose ignition switch may at times lead to engine runoff. If the ignition switch is old, it tends to become lose and fail to supply the required power to run the engine. “In the long run, if the engine does not receive firepower from the ignition switch, it will habitually cause your engine to go off without you turning it off. It may restart upon you turning the key but the problem will reoccur as you drive on,” Kaweesa says.
The increasing fuel prices may sometimes push you on the lookout for fuel stations that have the best fuel deals. However, by so doing, you may end up toping up with adulterated fuel, different from the usual type your engine has been running on. Jimmy Ssebadduka, a mechanic at Shell Jinja Road advises that when you refuel your car with fuel that you have never used especially from a different dealer and it was adulterated, it changes the fuel specifications and ingredients and can cause engine power loss.
Sula Kilimani, a mechanic at Kisekka Market in Downtown Kampala, says when your car alternator system is problematic or faulty, it may not be able to charge the car electrical system, which also causes power exhaustion or power fall in the engine and cause it to go off as you drive.
The alternator power does not go off at once but it reduces at a steady pace until the engine totally goes off and may need recharging.
What to do
• Guide the car to the side of the road. Try not to panic. Despite the loss of power steering and brakes, it is still possible to pull over and get the coast the vehicle into a stop.
• Try to restart the car. If you can not, head for a garage to get the problem evaluated.
• Turn on your emergency flashers. If the car was unable to be restarted, let other drivers know you are having trouble and to give you and your vehicle some space by putting on your flashers.
• Call for help.