Like most of us, your knowledge of cars may be a little limited. You probably know how to drive and what all the controls do, but what about everything that happens under the hood? Though you don’t need to be an expert, being aware of some of the common signs of car problems can save you thousands in the long run. Here are a few common warning signs to be aware of.
Cars are complex machines, so it’s only natural you’ll hear the engine making a weird noise every now and then. However, in some instances, a sound that you don’t recognise can be the sign of a big problem. For instance, a rapid popping or tapping noise coming from the chassis could indicate detonation in the engine’s cylinders. That’s when gas ignites before it’s meant to, and can result in some costly piston damage over time. Another common one is a harsh, grinding noise that happens whenever you start your car. This is usually the sign of the starter motor needing to be re-adjusted or replaced. A similar sound happening when you change gears can be the sign of a transmission that needs replacing. If you notice the same odd noise more than once, then get your car to an auto repair shop as soon as possible!
Jerking and Lurching
A car that’s in good condition should be able to run without any kind of jerking, stalling or lurching. If you’re cruising happily along, and suddenly feel your car lurching forward or the engine struggling, then it’s almost certainly the sign of some pretty serious issues. These signs could be a range of things; damaged spark plugs, clogged fuel lines, the central computer reading things incorrectly, or various other problems. The last thing you want to happen when you’re driving on a busy road is for the car to take its time getting up to speed, or to cut out entirely, so don’t just ignore this kind of issue. Get to a mechanic asap before it causes a crash! Engine issues like the ones I mentioned can often be avoided with preventative maintenance like regular oil changes and belt replacements.
Okay, cars don’t usually smell like roses, especially if you put off cleaning them for way too long! However, there are certain, more distinct smells which could be indicators of serious problems. If you suddenly notice an odd smell getting into the passenger compartment, it’s probably your oil or coolant leaking out of its closed-loop system. In much rarer, and much more dangerous situations, it can be toxic exhaust gasses escaping. You know that acrid stench of fumes you get sometimes when walking behind a running car? If you get that when you’re in the car with all the windows closed, get to a mechanic as a matter of urgency, with all the windows wide open! Burning rubber, on the other hand, either means that you’ve been doing some awesome donuts, or that your belts need replacing.