You need to have a good working knowledge of how your vehicle actually works when you need repairs, and how to identify many of the most common auto repair problems.
If you haven’t already got a trusted mechanic, you should make every effort to find one, and make sure you ask the right questions whenever you work with that individual. You should also be aware of your rights as a consumer, so that an unscrupulous repair person doesn’t take advantage of you, and fleece you out of your hard-earned money.
Here’s the best way to head off any auto repair problems which would otherwise be necessary.
Even if you’re not particularly interested in automobiles, it’s worth your while to have at least a general understanding of how they work, because this will really help you to head off all kinds of repair problems. You will be able to identify quite a few vehicle problems simply by conducting a regular visual inspection, listening for unusual noises, smelling odors that are not common, and paying attention to the way your vehicle handles as you drive around the neighborhood every day.
It might not mean much if you see a drop of fluid under your vehicle every now and then, but if you see a wet spot beneath your vehicle, it should be checked out.
Even worse, when you notice a puddle that has accumulated under your car, that calls for immediate action and should be investigated right away. If you notice a yellowish-green, fluorescent orange, or pastel blue fluid… any of these could be an indication that your engine has overheated, or that you have an anti-freeze leak:
- An antifreeze leak could be attributable to a cracked hose, a leaky radiator, or a water pump.
- If you notice a black, oily fluid or one that’s dark brown, that’s usually an indicator that your engine is leaking oil, and the problem could be a worn gasket or a bad seal.
- Reddish fluid under your vehicle is most likely an indication that you have a leak in your power steering system or in the transmission somewhere.
- If you see a puddle of clear water under your vehicle, that’s not usually an indicator of any kind of problem, and it’s most often a harmless accumulation of condensation which came from your air conditioner.
You’d be surprised how many auto repair problems can be identified by actually smelling them while your car is operating. For instance, if you smell something like burnt toast, this is often an indication that you have insulation that is burning somewhere, or that your car has an electrical short. It would be best not to drive the vehicle until the actual problem has been diagnosed.
When you smell the unmistakable odor of rotten eggs, this is very often an indication that the catalytic converter or some other emission control device has failed. Diagnose the problem as quickly as possible and repair it if necessary.
When you smell a thick, acrid order, that is generally an indication that oil is burning, and you should take some time to look for signs of an oil leak.
If you smell gasoline vapors after a failure to start the engine, this usually indicates that you have flooded the engine. When you notice this odor, wait a few minutes before attempting to restart the engine.
If you continue to smell gasoline, there could be a leak in your fuel system, and if this is the case, it will be a dangerous situation that requires prompt attention.
When you smell a chemical odor or something like burning resin, that could be a sign of an overheated clutch or overheated brakes. If you’ve been driving on mountain roads, you might need to let your brakes cool before proceeding. When you smell a kind of sweet, steamy odor, that may be a good indication of a coolant leak.
Check your temperature gauge for an overheating indication, and if you don’t see one, it could be that the engine itself is overheated. If you suspect this is the case, you should quickly pull over at the nearest repair station and have it checked out.
You can often identify auto repair problems simply by paying close attention to the sounds that you hear coming from it. When you hear a squeal which is a shrill, sharp type of noise, it could indicate that you have worn power steering, or that you have a loose air conditioning belt. A clicking noise might indicate a loose wheel cover, a stuck valve lifter, or a bent fan blade.
A high-pitched metallic sound heard while the vehicle is in motion, could be caused by excessive wear on your brakes, in which case it’s time for you to have some maintenance done. When you hear a low-pitched rumble, this could be a sign of an exhaust pipe, muffler, or converter going bad, or one which has developed a perforation. It might also be a sign that your universal joint or some other component in the driveline has become worn out.
When you hear a high-pitched tapping kind of sound, this may be caused by gasoline that has a lower octane rating than what should be used in your vehicle. You should check your owner’s manual so that you are aware of the appropriate octane rating for your car, to make sure this isn’t the case. If you continue to hear this kind of pinging sound, it could be that you have a problem with your engine ignition timing.
If you have a knock that sounds like a consistent pounding, it may be attributable to a worn crankshaft, or possibly the connecting rod bearings. It might also be a sign that you have a loose transmission torque converter.
When you hear a random thumping sound that is akin to a clunk, that could be an indicator that you have a loose exhaust pipe or muffler, or that you have a loose shock absorber or some other component in the suspension system.