Regular maintenance and inspections are important to stay ahead of your vehicle's maintenance needs and to plan ahead for future needed repairs. However, even with regular visits to your repair shop, things can come up that were unexpected. Here are a few warning signs that your vehicle is in need of repairs or service in between visits to your automotive repair shop.
- Dashboard Warning lights. Nothing says your car needs a service quite like a dashboard warning light. Quite literally too, as the word ‘SERVICE’ or a spanner icon appears on instrument panels in most modern cars before your car is due for maintenance. Although the service reminder light appears for routine check-ups, it can also appear because of a specific fault. You might notice that the light illuminates at the same time as another symbol on your dashboard to help pinpoint the problem. They usually look like the system they're warning you about such as a tire for under or over inflation or an engine for an engine problem. Have any warning lights checked out soon. If a check engine light is flashing, stop the vehicle where safe and call your auto repair shop immediately. They may recommend you tow the vehicle to prevent more serious and costly damage.
- Shaking or vibrations. Your vehicle should drive smoothly down the road, but if you feel shaking where there once was none, something's wrong. You might feel it in the steering wheel or through your seat. It could be a suspension, tire, or electrical problem (among other possibilities).
- Strange noises. Clicks, hisses, ticks, and squeaking could all indicate a problem. If the sound is becoming more intense or the problem seems urgent, you should pull over as soon as it’s safe to do so and call your Service Advisor right away. Pay attention to the 3 W’s - what, when and where of the noise:
- When the sounds occur (e.g. when turning, going over a bump, when idle)
- What it sounds like (e.g. rattling or clicking)
- Where it seems to be coming from (e.g. under the bonnet, under the car)<br/><br/>By giving a description of ‘when’, ‘what’ and ‘where’ you can help your mechanic diagnose the problem more quickly, saving you time and money.
- Burning smell or smoke. If you smell something like rubber or oil burning or see smoke coming out of your exhaust or from under the hood, don't just hope it will go away. Pay attention to when the smoke appears, the color, where it’s coming from and whether or not the vehicle is overheating. These can be signs of serious troubles that need attention.
- Bad fuel economy. All car engines decrease in efficiency over time, but if you find you're filling the tank up more frequently, it could be a sign that your vehicle needs service. Many vehicles now have computers that will give you a numerical reading of your fuel economy. If you notice a dip, you may have something as simple as underinflated tires or something as serious as a sticking brake caliper.
- Puddles under your vehicle. Vehicles use fluids for such things as cooling, lubrication, steering, and stopping. If you see them underneath your vehicle, it means they're leaking, and that can have very unwelcome consequences. If your car leaks colored liquid, you could have a more serious problem on your hands.
- Brakes behave differently. When your car was new, the brakes were probably quiet and didn't require you to press hard on the pedal to stop. If you notice any issues like knocking or other noises, oversensitivity or resistance, you likely have a problem. Not only does your safety depend on properly working brakes, but other drivers on the road are also counting on your brakes as well.
Your vehicle communicates with you every time you drive it. When you drive, look and listen for signs that could be indicators of a problem to help you prevent inconvenient breakdowns and dangerous situations.
Old Town Automotive <br/>707.442.4556 <br/>Oldtownauto.com
Revised from content contributed by NAPA Service Assistant