Have you ever wondered how you know when your car needs repair? Sometimes the need for auto repair can be obvious, such as when the check engine light comes on, while other times it will not be as obvious. Therefore, by paying careful attention to your vehicle’s performance, you can spot when your car needs repair before it turns into major trouble. If you ever notice anything concerning about your vehicle, you can contact your local auto repair shop where they can run diagnostic tests to find out if anything is wrong. They can also offer specialized services like auto glass services in some cases. Here are some of the more subtle signs that your car needs repair.
A Sudden Increase in Exhaust
You should be concerned anytime you notice your vehicle’s emissions suddenly change, especially when there is a sudden increase in exhaust smoke, one of the most common signs of internal engine issues. If you are driving and you notice an excess of smoke coming from the exhaust pipe or if there is a black residue near the exhaust pipe or bumper area, you should get it checked out as soon as possible. Based on the color of the smoke emanating from your exhaust pipe, you can often ascertain what the issue is and the severity. If your car is producing an amount of black exhaust smoke that is more than usual, this is cause for immediate concern.
As a general rule of thumb, black smoke indicates that your automobile is burning too much fuel. This will severely decrease your fuel efficiency and cause numerous different problems with your engine. On the other hand, blue smoke is a sign that there is an oil leak in the engine and it may have even seeped into the combustion chamber. This puts your vehicle at risk of oil starvation which could heavily damage the motor.
Lastly, white smoke means there is a coolant leak in the engine and coolant is being burnt. During the winter months, you may see a little more white smoke than usual when you start your engine. This is completely normal as it is simply a reaction of water vapor in the exhaust system. It should dissipate as the temperature of the engine increases.
In addition, smoke should never come from under the hood. This is generally a sign of the engine overheating which could cause severe damage if you continue driving. If you find yourself in this situation, carefully monitor the temperature gauge. If you are driving your vehicle and the temperature gauge is going up, pull off the road immediately and wait for the engine to cool. If the situation does not improve, get help from the American Automobile Association’s roadside assistance or another service.
A Decrease in Fuel Efficiency
If your vehicle experiences a sudden or gradual decrease in fuel efficiency or miles per gallon, this is a surefire sign your car needs repair. Decreased fuel efficiency will lead to more time and money spent at the gas pump, while a visit to the auto repair shop for a small tune-up will fix this problem indefinitely. Cleaning a sensor, changing an air filter, or replacing a spark plug are a few tune up services the repair shop might perform to repair this issue and get your vehicle’s fuel efficiency back to normal again.
If you hear a strange noise while you are operating your vehicle, especially if it is repetitive, you might want to have it checked out by a service shop since this may be a sign your car needs repair. A whining transmission or a knocking noise coming from the engine are a few common noises that may point to the need for auto repair. Any knocking sound coming from under the hood is likely an indication that your engine bearings are worn down. If your engine is chugging, racing, or shaking, this likely points to a performance problem.
If you are driving and hear a squealing or grinding noise while you apply the brakes, this is cause for serious concern. This is an indication that the brake pads are worn down and grinding against the rotors ask you brake. This is referred to as metal on metal. If your rotors become damaged and your mechanic cannot resurface them, the cost to replace them will be double the price of your usual car brakes repair. A droning or dragging sound coming from the front or back wheel could be a differential or wheel bearing that has gone bad.
Unusual Odors or Fluid Leaking
Strange smells are another top sign your car needs repair. A few of the most common smells you might come across include burning paper, which points to the need for clutch repair, the scent of sweet maple, which indicates that your vehicle is looking coolant, or a gym bag odor, which means there is probably mold in your heating and air conditioning vents.
Other than strange odors, leaking fluids are another sign your vehicle needs urgent repair. There a number of fluids in your car that help lubricate or operate its various systems, which allows your vehicle to run effectively and safely. The most common fluids in your car are motor oil, brake fluid, transmission fluid, coolant or radiator fluid, windshield wiper fluid, and power steering fluid. If you notice any of these fluids leaking from their respective locations, contact your auto repair shop right away.
A major leak underneath your vehicle on the space you usually park is also a cause for immediate concern, and a legitimate reason to contact your mechanic. Bright green coolant or dark brown or red engine oil, transmission oil, or brake fluid will all leak near the front of the car. If you use your vehicle’s air conditioner during the warm summer months, water will leak and drip from the front of the car on the passenger side. This is completely normal and no cause for concern.
Top Signs Your Car Needs Repair
Other than these subtle signs that your car needs repair, there are many more obvious signs that you need to visit the auto repair shop. You may even be ignoring these top signs out of fear that the repairs may put you back hundreds of dollars. If you are unsure that your car needs repairs or are putting it off, pay attention to these signs that your vehicle needs attention right away.
Check Engine Light
If your check engine light is flashing, this is usually a significant sign that something could be wrong with any number of the hundreds of mechanical parts that are at work in your vehicle. If your check engine light is merely light up, this is completely normal and not a reason to panic, but you should still have your engine checked sometime in the near future. However, if a red or yellow engine symbol lights up on your dashboard, you should have your engine checked right away. This could point to an issue with the emissions system which will likely damage the catalytic converter if neglected.
Low Oil Light
Reguarly checking your car’s oil level and changing it when necessary is when of the most important car maintenance tasks. As your vehicle gets older, this becomes even more important. An older car will usually leak some amount of oil, which is not a huge cause for concern. If your low oil light comes on, your car has likely already sprung a large leak and the oil level has dropped significantly.
If you find yourself in this situation, it is best to pull over right away and call a tow truck to take your car to a mechanic. However, if you absolutely need to, you could try waiting for your engine to cool off in order to check your oil level and refill it. Then, you can make the drive to your mechanic yourself. Most importantly, do not continue driving when the low oil light comes on. IF you do, you will likely damage the engine significantly which will lead to an expensive repair or even an engine replacement.
High Temperature Gauge
If your vehicle’s temperature gauge has been reading high for a few consecutive days, this likely points to one of three different problems: the engine overheating, the gauge malfunctioning, or your car losing coolant through a leak or evaporation. If your temperature gauge is broken, then you will likely need to replace the coolant temperature switch. Another possibility that might explain your temperature gauge being high is a malfunctioning water pump or a water pump gasket that worn down and allowed a leak. In this case, you could easily replace the water pump yourself or have a professional do it. You can purchase a water pump wherever you can find auto parts for sale.
A Decrease In Performance
If your car has trouble accelerating, there is probably a serious issue that needs to be addressed immediately. If you find it difficult to get over a speed bump, this could signal a decrease in engine performance. Poor engine performance could have a plethora of different root causes, so it is of the utmost importance to have a knowledgeable mechanic diagnose the root problem. With over 639,700 car mechanics in the United States, you should not have a problem finding a trustworthy and experienced mechanic.
If you notice your vehicle’s performance decreasing, such as a difficulty accelerating, this could actually be an issue with the transmission. Other decreases in performance could manifest themselves in your vehicle riding lower than usual or your tires scraping on the wheel arch. These are likely symptoms of a problem with the suspension.
If your vehicle’s engine seems like it is going give out when it is idling, this is a serious sign your car needs repair. This could be due to a number of different root causes, inkling corroded or dirty spark plugs, a clogged fuel filter, issues with the fuel pump, or old ignition coils.
Frequent Break Downs
Your vehicle will likely need multiple repairs to its engine over the course of its lifespan. This is unavoidable, but if your vehicle begins to break down more often than it should, this likely points to a larger problem. In this case, you may want to invest in a 24 hour towing service. Once an experienced mechanic diagnoses the issue, you will know what is causing your vehicle to break down and you will have an idea of how much it will cost. Your vehicle might just need a minor repair or if you have put it off for a while, it could need major repairs.
A Recent Accident
While it may be obvious, a car accident can result in a litany of mechanical issues and leave you in need of collision repair services, whether it is a fender bender or a serious crash. In many cases, your car will be totaled if it would cost more to repair it than to replace it. Noticeable signs that your car will be totaled include: the car will not start, parts of the car are bent, and leaking fluids.
If your vehicle is not totaled after an accident, you can get away with visiting an auto body paint center or auto glass services to repair your vehicle.
Even if you were not at fault, you will have to deal with the lengthy ordeal of getting it repaired. This involves getting a car insurance quote with an auto insurance agency before getting the repairs done.
This quote will often determine if the insurance company believes whether or not repairs are necessary. Before dealing with an insurance company, check automotive insurance ratings on a reputable website.
Other than mechanical issues, a car accident could result in serious injuries to the driver and passengers in the car. If you find yourself in this scenario, do not hesitate to contact an automobile injury lawyer.
With these tips and top signs your car needs repair, you should be able to determine whether or not your car needs immediate repair, or you can wait until your next inspection. Regardless of what sign tipped you off that your car is not operating correctly, it is crucial to have your vehicle inspected by an auto repair shop if necessary.