A breakdown occurs with most rides in RollerCoaster Tycoon, RollerCoaster Tycoon 2 and RollerCoaster Tycoon 3. Breakdowns have a number of causes and a number of effects depending on the ride type and other factors. Breakdowns generally increase in frequency as the ride ages and as the reliability of the ride decreases. Having a higher running cost also increases the chances of breakdowns occurring; furthermore, some ride types like the Flying Saucers and Compact Inverted Coaster are even more susceptible to losing reliability even with a low running cost. Adjusting the inspection time for Mechanics can help delay this. Certain rides never break down, and thus, never require inspection. A complete list of rides that never break down can be found here.
Types of Breakdowns
Safety Cut-out / Emergency Stop
This is the most common breakdown and affects most rides. The details of the breakdown are not explained, but it has a number of effects. If the ride consists of vehicles that are powered by the track, such as a Monorail or Car Ride, those vehicles will stop moving. If the ride has a chain lift hill, vehicles being pulled up the chain lift hill will stop once a breakdown occurs. In all cases, vehicles waiting to exit the station will not be allowed to depart until the breakdown is addressed, even if they have exceeded their maximum wait time.
This breakdown can result in a crash if a track has a section where the vehicle travels up a chain lift hill at high speed and collides with a stalled vehicle already on the hill, although vehicles will never crash if they collide at a combined speed of less than 30mph/48kmh-1. A Mine Ride with a very long uphill section after a fast section can especially be prone to crashes following the ride being fixed from a safety cut-out breakdown if it has multiple trains and one of them gets stuck on the long uphill section because of the breakdown.
The term "Safety Cut-out" is used in RollerCoaster Tycoon and RollerCoaster Tycoon 2, while the term "Emergency Stop" is used in RollerCoaster Tycoon 3.
Restraints / Doors Stuck Open / Closed
This breakdown occurs when the safety restraints on a ride either are stuck open after a vehicle is loaded and preparing to leave the station or if the restraints are stuck closed as a vehicle is about to unload its riders at the station. The only difference between the two is that when the restraints are stuck open, guests who have already completed a full run of the ride and are not sitting in the affected vehicle can exit the ride normally.
If the affected vehicle gets a restraints stuck closed breakdown right as it touches the vehicle in front of it at the same time the latter departs the station and the affected vehicle is partly sticking out of the back end of the station, this breakdown can result in a rare crash if a train attempts to enter the station but explodes upon crashing into the stuck train at a speed exceeding 30mph/48kmh-1. Crashes from this breakdown can be prevented by making the trains run at safe and low speeds for a short length before actually entering the station or by increasing the waiting time.
For monorails, the breakdowns are known as "Doors Stuck Open" and "Doors Stuck Closed" respectively.
(Station) Brakes Failure
Known as "Station Brakes Failure" in RCT1, this is usually a severe breakdown, where the brakes on a ride, specifically the regular brakes on the track, as well as the brakes in the ride's station platforms, fail to function. This breakdown can result in a ride crash if a vehicle enters a station at too high a speed and collides with another vehicle waiting at the station, which is stuck there due to the brakes failing.
The chances of this breakdown occurring can be reduced by building regular brakes on the ride, if possible, and the possibility of a crash at the station can be negated by having only a single vehicle operating on the ride or by reducing the speed of the ride's vehicles before they enter the station, such as through a long hill, ascending helix, or a water section (possible only on the Wooden and Water Coasters). Rides that have a single vehicle will not crash as a result of the breakdown, as the vehicle will pass through the station without stopping. However, rides whose vehicles are not attached to the track, such as the Bobsleigh Coaster, may still crash if a sharp, unbanked corner or small hill is placed right after the station as the vehicle would pass through the station without incident but fly off the unbanked turn or hill. Similar to a collision due to a Safety Cut-out, rides with two or more vehicles will not crash as a result of this breakdown if the vehicles collide at a combined speed of less than 30mph/48kmh-1. Brakes failures are especially more likely to happen during rain.
When a brakes failure occurs on Powered Launch rides, such as the Looping Roller Coaster's Shuttle Loop, the vehicle will enter and pass through the station backwards, but the last car of the vehicle will stop just before completely leaving the back end of the station. The vehicle will then be launched forwards and out of the station again, as though a new ride was starting. This will repeat itself until the breakdown is fixed.
Mechanics fix this breakdown by hitting the brakes at the back end of the station five times with a hammer. The brakes will resume functioning immediately after the fifth hit.
In RCT2, this breakdown is known as "Brakes Failure". Reverse-incline launched coasters, as well as most powered launch coasters, are now affected by this breakdown in a similar manner to single-train rides, as the station brakes no longer stop trains moving backwards. On the other hand, reverse-incline launched shuttle coasters cannot actually crash from brakes failure as they will continue doing extra circuits for as long as they are broken down, but they will never gain enough speed to fly off the track. Rides running in "Continuous circuit block-sectioned mode" with one or more block brake track pieces (including the crests of lift hills or a cable lift hill) are also unaffected by this breakdown. Additionally, block brake track pieces are completely immune to this breakdown; as such, it is possible to use them to slow down trains to safe speeds before entering the station when regular continuous circuit mode is used. Furthermore, the Mine Ride, Inverted Impulse Coaster, Heartline Twister Coaster, Air Powered Vertical Coaster, Reverse Freefall Coaster, and Alpine Coaster (in OpenRCT2 only) also cannot experience this breakdown. In all other respects, it is the same as its RCT1 iteration with the exception that it now normally occurs on rides that have less than 50% reliability and are at least two years old, thus making it rarer in occurrence than before.
In RCT3, the severity of this breakdown becomes a non-issue on continuous circuit rides as vehicles never crash and explode regardless of how hard they impact another vehicle in front of them.
Although brakes failures primarily affect roller coasters, there are three water rides that may experience brakes failures: the Log Flume, the River Rapids, and the Splash Boats. In the case of the aforementioned water rides; however, the vehicles are typically not travelling at a sufficient speed to crash, and so will instead just flow through the station and repeat the course or stop upon colliding with another vehicle stopped at the station. This does not happen in RCT2.
This breakdown involves a problem with a ride vehicle when it is about to leave the station platform. It has no specific effects except on the Go Karts where a random vehicle will not move and other karts in the same lane will get trapped behind it.
Mechanics fix this breakdown in RCT1 and RCT2 by kneeling down at and using their wrench on the affected vehicle twice. They then get on their feet, scratch the back of their head and kick the vehicle, with the kick causing the vehicle to immediately resume functioning as per normal. On some rides, right after the kick, the Mechanic may also clutch the foot they used to kick the vehicle and hop about in agony for a short while.
In RCT1 and RCT2, this breakdown affects mainly the Merry-Go-Round and Double Deck Carousel, causing them to spin faster than normal and their music to play faster. If the ride in question is a Merry-Go-Round and music is enabled, it will also start "hopping" if it is not fixed for an extended period of time. It can also affect the Log Flume, River Rapids, and Splash Boats, but it only prevents boats from leaving the station or passengers from boarding. Apart from these aesthetic effects, the control failure does nothing.
In RCT3, this breakdown affects all flat rides with a control box, causing them to animate faster than usual. The breakdown also messes up the ride's normal ratings, usually causing its nausea rating to spike to "Uber-Extreme" until it is fixed, whereupon its ratings revert to normal. Peeps who were on the ride during the breakdown period will usually stumble out of the ride exit, with a number of them throwing up immediately upon leaving the ride.
- In RCT3, when a ride breaks down, the accompanying message will explicitly state the cause of the ride's breaking down, whereas in RCT1 and RCT2, the message only mentions that the ride has broken down.
- During a breakdown of a flat ride in RCT3, it will intermittently emit large puffs of black smoke and loud clanging/hissing noises, while the ride boundaries and queue line railing will be replaced with wooden scaffoldings that appear to be wrapped with police cross tape.
- In all games, the ride sign will say "Broken Down" or "Closed" when the ride breaks down. In RCT3, the signs will sometimes become blank, although this may be just a bug.
- In RCT3, when a mechanic fixes a ride with a control box, they will open the box and apply a screwdriver while pushing the box with their other hand. When done, they will step back and close the box, and the ride will be fixed.
- In RCT3, stalls can become broken down. The mechanic fixes this by kicking the stall.