How To Avoid Car Problems With These Simple Tips

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How To Avoid Common Car Problems

The more that you know about your car, the better able you can avoid car repair problems. You can use your senses to detect many common car problems: listening for odd noises, visually checking the area around your car, sensing that your car is handling differently, or noticing any unusual smells.

Signs That Look Like Trouble

Occasional fluid drips or small stains under your car might not mean a lot. However, you should pay attention to any wet spots and immediately check any puddles.

Fluids can be identified by their consistency and color:

– Fluorescent orange, pastel blue or yellowish green colors indicate an antifreeze leak caused by a bad hose, water pump, leaking radiator, or an overheated engine.

– A black or dark brown oily fluid means that oil is leaking from the engine. The leak could be caused by a bad gasket or seal.

– A red oily spot is an indication of a power-steering leak or a transmission fluid leak.

– Usually, a clear water puddle is not a problem. It might be regular condensation from your car’s air conditioner.

Smells Like Trouble

There are some problems that are right under your nose. They can be detected by how they smell:

– A sharp, light odor that smells like burnt toast often indicated burning insulation and an electrical short. To be safe, have the problem diagnosed before you drive your car again.

– A continuous smell of burning sulfur that smells like rotten eggs is usually an indication that there is a problem with the catalytic converter or another emission control device. Get it diagnosed and repaired right away.

– Usually, a thick acrid odor means burning oil. Check for signs of leaks.

– If you smell gasoline vapors after your car has failed to start you might have flooded the engine. Before you try again, wait a couple of minutes. If this odor persists there is a good chance that the fuel system has a leak – which is a potentially dangerous problem that should be checked immediately.

– An acrid chemical or burning resin smell might be a sign of overheated clutch or brakes. Check your parking brake. First stop. Then let your brakes cool after braking hard repeatedly on a mountain road. If there is light smoke coming from the wheel that is an indication of a stuck brake. You will need to have your car towed to be repaired.

– A steamy, sweet odor is an indication of a coolant leak. If a warning light or temperature gauge doesn’t indicate overheating, carefully drive to the closest service station while keeping a close eye on the gauges. If steam from underneath the hood and a metallic, hot scent accompanies the odor, then your engine is overheated. Immediately pull over. If you continue to drive you could end up causing serious engine damage. Tow your car to have it repaired.

Sounds Like Trouble

Rumbles, rattles, squeal, squeaks, and other sounds offer valuable clues about maintenance needs and problems. The following are some of the most common noises and their meanings:

Squeal – A sharp, shrill oses that usually relates to the speed of our engine:

– Worn or loose air conditioning belt, fan, or power steering.

Click – Sharp, slight noise, that relates to either vehicle speed or engine speed:

– Low engine oil or stuck valve lifter
– Bent or loose fan blade
– Loose wheel cover

Screech – A piercing, high-pitched metallic sound; normally occurs while the car is moving:

– Your brake wear indicators are telling you that it is time for maintenance on your brakes.

Rumble – Rhythmic, low-pitched sound.

– Defective muffler, converter, or exhaust pipe
– Worn universal joint or another drive-line component

Ping – Metallic high-pitched tapping sound, that relates to engine speed:

– Normally caused by using low octane rated gas. Check the owner’s manuals to see the appropriate octane rating to use with your car. Engine ignition timing might be at fault if this problem persists.

Heavy Knock – A pounding, rhythmic sound:

– Worn connecting rod bearings or crankshaft
– The transmission torque converter is loose

Clunk – Random thumping noise:

– Shock absorber or another suspension component is loose
– Loose muffler or exhaust pipe

Feels Like Trouble –

Some symptoms you might feel include poor performance, vibration, a rough ride, and difficult handling. They are almost always an indication that there is a problem.


– Worn steering components, such as the ball joint or idler, and/or misaligned front wheels, may cause wandering or problems steering straight.

– Pulling – the car has a tendency to steer either to the right or left – may be caused by a serious issue such as a front end, that is misaligned or damaged or something minor like under-inflated tires.

Handling and Ride

– Improper tire inflation, or worn shock absorbers and other suspension components – may cause poor handling.

– Although there is no definite rule about when struts or shock absorbers should be replaced, you can try the following test: bounce the car up and down at each wheel hard. Then let go. Watch to see how many times the car bounces. If the shocks are weak the car will bounce two or more times.

– Normally springs don’t wear out and don’t have to be replaced unless one corner of your car is lower than all of the others. If you overload your car it may cause the springs to become damaged.

– Properly balance your tires. An improperly or balanced or unbalanced tire can cause a car to vibrate and might cause the suspension components and steering to prematurely wear.


There are several symptoms of brake problems. Schedule a diagnosis and repair in the following situations:

– When you apply the brakes your car pulls to one side

– When you maintain pressure the brake pedal sinks down to the floor

– During braking, you feel or hear grinding or scraping

– The brake light is lit on the instrument panel


Engine trouble is indicated by the following symptoms. Get a diagnosis and a repair scheduled.

– The engine continues running after removing the key

– Excessive oil use (over one quart in between changes)

– Poor fuel economy

– Poor acceleration

– Stalling or rough idling

– The check engine light is lit on the instrument panel

– Hard to start the engine


The poor performance of your transmission might be caused by a plugged filter or disconnected hose or an actual component failure. Be sure the simple items are checked first by the technician; normally transmission repairs are expensive. The following are some of the more common transmission problem symptoms:

– Slippage during acceleration. Your car does not respond when the engine speeds up

– Failing to shift during regular acceleration

– No or delayed response when shifting from neutral into reverse or drive

Trouble Shooting

Car problems don’t always mean that major repairs are needed. The following are some common causes of problems and techniques that can help your technician and you find and repair the problems:

Alternator –  Your alternator can appear to be defective if there is loose wiring. The technician should check to see if there are any loose connections and conduct an output test prior to replacing your alternator.

Battery – Loose or corroded battery terminals may make your battery appear to be defective or deal. The terminals should be clean by your technician and the battery function should be tested before the battery is replaced.

Starter – What seems to be a defective starter might actually be a poor connection or dead battery. Have the technician test your battery and check all of the connections before the starter is repaired.

Muffler – a loud rumbling sound underneath your car is an indication that you need a new exhaust pipe or muffler.

Tune-up – This might not be relevant to your car. Fewer parts, besides filter, hoses, spark plugs, and belts, need to be replaced on new car cars. check your owner’s manual and follow the instructions.

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