Some car issues, such as a flat tire or dead battery, are easy to identify. However, there are countless others that are much harder for car owners to spot. Don’t wait until your vehicle breaks down to search for “auto repair near me.” Instead, learn how to spot the warning signs that there’s something wrong with your vehicle so you can contact a mechanic and address the issue before it turns into an even bigger problem.
Here are the 7 telltale signs that it’s time to seek auto repair assistance from a mechanic:
Some of the most common noises that could indicate there is a problem with your vehicle include:
- Rattling: If it sounds like something is rattling beneath your vehicle when you travel at a low speed, a lug nut may be loose inside one of your hub caps.
- Scraping or grinding: If you hear a scraping or grinding sound whenever you press down on the brakes, this usually means it’s time for a brake pad replacement. Get your vehicle serviced as soon as possible to prevent rotor damage.
- Hissing or sizzling: This type of sound, which is heard immediately after turning off your vehicle, is typically caused by coolant or oil leaking onto a hot engine component.
- Loud bang: You will hear a loud bang coming from your tailpipe if your vehicle backfires. It may be loud enough to sound like a gunshot or small explosion. A mechanic can determine why your vehicle is backfiring and make the necessary repairs to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
- Roaring: If you hear a roaring sound that gets louder when you accelerate, this could be an issue with your exhaust system or transmission.
- Squealing: A squealing sound that occurs when you first start your car or when you accelerate is typically caused by worn-out or loose accessory belts.
- Clicking: A clicking or popping sound that occurs whenever your vehicle turns could mean that one or both of the constant velocity joints needs to be replaced.
- Tapping: A tapping or clunking sound that is coming from under your hood is usually caused by a problem with your vehicle’s valves, pistons, or rods.
These are just some of the many strange sounds your vehicle could make when it is experiencing a problem. If your vehicle starts to make any type of unusual noise, don’t drown it out by turning your music up louder.
Instead, pay attention to what the noise sounds like, where it is coming from, and whether it is triggered by certain actions, such as braking or accelerating. Then, contact a mechanic and provide them with this information so they can look into the issue.
Dashboard Warning Lights
The dashboard warning lights are designed to notify you of problems with your vehicle. However, seeing a dashboard light turn on does not necessarily mean you need to get your car serviced.
Some dashboard lights are used to notify you of minor issues such as an open door or unfastened seat belt. There are many dashboard lights, however, that signify something far more serious. You may need to contact a mechanic if one of these dashboard lights turns on:
- Maintenance required light: This usually means that it’s time to get an oil change.
- Check engine light: This light could turn on for a number of different reasons, so you will need a mechanic to diagnose the issue.
- Brake light: If your emergency parking brake is not on, this light could indicate that there is an issue with your braking system.
- Oil pressure light: Your vehicle will turn this light on when the oil pressure in your engine is too low, which could mean there is an oil leak or issue with the pressure sensor.
- Engine temperature light: Also known as the coolant temperature light, this indicates that your engine is overheating, which is a serious problem that could cause extensive engine damage.
- Battery light: This light will automatically turn on whenever your battery’s voltage drops below its normal level, which means there is an issue with the battery, alternator, or another component of the charging system.
Look in your owner’s manual to see what symbols are used for each of these warning lights. This ensures that if a light turns on in your dashboard, you will know exactly what it means and how to handle it.
Your vehicle needs a number of different types of fluids in order to run properly. If these fluids start to leak, it’s important to contact a mechanic who can identify the source of the leak and make the necessary repairs.
Some leaks are more serious than others. To identify the type of leak, look closely at the color of the fluid.
Clear fluid is usually condensation dripping from your vehicle’s air conditioner system. Condensation collects in the air conditioner system when it’s running and then exits your vehicle through a small tube located underneath the car. In other words, it’s perfectly normal to see a puddle of water underneath your car if you’ve been using your vehicle’s air conditioner.
If you see a puddle of brown or black fluid directly underneath your engine, this likely means your vehicle is leaking oil. Engine oil leaks can occur as a result of a faulty gasket, seal, valve, valve cover, or oil pan. If you see this type of fluid leak, let a mechanic identify the source of the leak, make the necessary repairs or replacements, and check your engine oil level.
Transmission fluid has a reddish tint, but it can turn brown as it ages, so it is often confused with engine oil. Transmission fluid may start to leak due to a gap in the transmission, a faulty pan, or loose seals. Transmission fluid lines could also start to leak if they are damaged by debris in the road.
Red fluid could also be power steering fluid. One way to tell the difference is to look at the location of the leak. If the leak is coming from the front left side, this means it is most likely power steering fluid. Regardless of whether it is power steering or transmission fluid, the issue needs to be addressed right away or it could lead to serious damage.
Brake fluid is typically light yellow and transparent, but it can slowly turn brown over time. Your vehicle needs this fluid to safely come to a complete stop, so you should not ignore a potential brake fluid leak.
Bright green, orange, blue, or pink fluid is coolant, which is also known as antifreeze. Coolant is responsible for absorbing excess heat and keeping your engine cool. Your engine could quickly overheat if your vehicle does not have enough coolant. To avoid extensive engine damage, contact a mechanic right away if you spot this type of leak.
There are certain smells that could indicate that it’s time to see a mechanic, including:
- Musty: If there is a musty smell coming from your car’s vents, there is probably mold or mildew growth in the air conditioner system.
- Sweet: Coolant has a sweet smell, so this scent could indicate that there is a coolant leak somewhere in your vehicle’s cooling system.
- Sulfur: Smelling sulfur or rotten eggs in your vehicle typically means that your vehicle has an engine problem that has damaged or broken your catalytic converter.
- Burnt toast: Electrical issues such as short circuits or overheated insulation often smell like burnt toast. These issues could potentially cause a vehicle fire, so you should get your car serviced right away.
- Gas: You shouldn’t worry if you smell gas when you first start your vehicle. However, if you still smell gas after running the engine for a while, this could mean that there is a gas leak or the evaporative emissions system is clogged.
- Burning rubber: Oil leaks, overheated clutch plates, and drive belt problems can all produce a burning rubber smell.
Don’t try to ignore unusual smells by filling your car with air fresheners. It’s important to get your car serviced right away to address the issues that are causing these unpleasant odors.
Poor Gas Mileage
Keep track of how often you need to stop for gas. If you notice that your car has been consuming more fuel than usual, this could indicate that there is a problem that needs to be addressed by a mechanic.
Poor gas mileage could be caused by various problems, including:
- Low tire pressure
- Faulty oxygen sensors
- Bad engine air filters
- Worn-out spark plugs
- Faulty fuel injectors
However, poor gas mileage is not always caused by a serious problem. For example, your vehicle’s air conditioner system is powered by gas. If you have been using the air conditioner more often than usual, this could explain why your car is suddenly consuming more fuel.
Certain driving habits, such as revving your engine, idling for long periods of time, or quickly accelerating, can also increase your vehicle’s fuel consumption.
If you haven’t changed your driving habits or you are experiencing other issues with your vehicle, it’s best to contact a mechanic to figure out the cause of your car’s poor gas mileage.
Change in Vehicle Performance
If you notice a sudden change in the way your vehicle drives, it’s time to contact a mechanic. This may include difficulty accelerating, veering to the right or left, an increase in braking distance, suddenly stopping and starting, or engine hesitation.
Each of these changes could indicate that there is something wrong with your vehicle. For instance, if your car is slowly accelerating or jerking while accelerating, this could be caused by dirty fuel injectors or worn-out spark plugs. An increase in braking distance could occur as a result of worn-out brake pads or a low brake fluid level.
Tell your mechanic as much as possible about the symptoms your vehicle is exhibiting. Describe how your vehicle’s performance has changed, when it first began, and whether it only happens at certain times such as when you first start your car or try to accelerate. This will ensure your mechanic has the information that they need to investigate the issue and determine the cause of the problem.
Auto Repair Near Me: Mobile Mechanics vs. Auto Repair Shops
Each of these signs could indicate that there is something wrong with your vehicle. Depending on the problem, it may or may not be safe to drive your vehicle until it is fixed. Instead of paying to have it towed to an auto repair shop or interrupting your schedule, contact a mobile mechanic for assistance.