One of the best ways to avoid car repair rip-offs is to have a good understanding of how your vehicle works and what some of the most prevalent car problems are. This means aside from knowing the importance of diagnostics tests, you also need to know how to pick the right mechanic and ask the right questions.
Detecting the Most Common Vehicle Issues
Detecting the most common car problems can be as straightforward as car audio installation. Below are some of the basic techniques you need to keep in mind:
Looks Like Trouble
The occasional fluid drops or small stains you can find under your car may not mean much. However, puddles and wet spots deserve your immediate attention.
You can determine fluids by looking at their consistency and color:
- Pastel blue, fluorescent orange, or yellowish-green: This can indicate a leaking radiator, antifreeze leak, or an overheated engine.
- Black or dark brown: This can be attributed to your engine leaking oil. A bad gasket or seal can cause the leak.
- Red oily spot: This often points to power-steering fluid or transmission leak.
- Puddle of clear water: This is often not a cause of alarm. It can be attributed to normal condensation from your vehicle’s air conditioner.
Sounds Like Trouble
Rumbles, rattles, squeals, and squeaks are important clues that can point to your vehicle’s possible issues and maintenance needs.
- Rumble – this low-pitched rhythmic sound can be an indication of a worn universal joint or a defective muffler, converter, or exhaust pipe.
- Ping – this high-pitched sound tapping sound is often caused by using a gas that has a lower octane rating than the recommended one. Refer to your owner’s manual for the correct octane rating.
- Heavy knock – this rhythmic pounding sound typically indicates a loose transmission torque converter or a worn crankshaft.
- Squeal – this sharp and shrill noise is often related to engine speed. Squealing sound can often indicate a worn or loose power steering, air conditioning belt, or fan.
- Clunk – this random thumping sound can be caused by a loose muffler, exhaust pipe, or shock absorber.
- Screech – this high-pitched and piercing metallic sound typically occurs while your vehicle is in motion. A screeching sound is often caused by a worn-out brake. This is also considered a clear indication it’s time to have your vehicle checked.
Not all car problems require major repairs. Below are some common car issues and the troubleshooting techniques you can use to identify and resolve those problems:
- Loose or corroded battery terminals can make your battery appear defective or dead. Consider cleaning the terminals and testing the function of the battery before deciding if it needs replacement or not.
- Loose wiring is often the cause of defective alternators. Check for loose connections and conduct an output test to determine if you need to replace the alternator.
- What can seem like a defective starter might just be a poor connection or dead battery. Check all the connections first and test your starter first before having the starter repaired.
- Tune-up. The conventional “tune-up” may not be relevant if you have a new vehicle. Very few parts, with the exception of hoses, filters, spark plugs, and belts, need to be replaced on newer models. Check and follow any tune-up recommendations indicated in the owner’s manual.
Having your vehicle maintained or repaired can mean expense and inconvenience like a routine visit to the doctor. However, just like regular check-ups, routine car service is crucial to your vehicle’s overall health and longevity.