If you haven’t experienced a car problem already, you will likely experience one at some point in your life. When it does happen, it will disrupt your daily routine, do some damage to your wallet and make you want to tear your hair out. However, if you know what to do when a problem occurs, you can make the situation just a little less stressful for yourself.
The good news is, you don’t have to be a mechanic in order to identify the most car problems. In some cases, you might even be able to temporarily fix the problem yourself.
In this blog, we’re going to take a look at five of the most common car problems that you’ll encounter. We’ll discuss how you can identify these problems and what you need to do when you run into them.
For most of these issues, we recommended visiting your local car service shop for professional advice. A trustworthy mechanic will ensure that your car is fitted with the right parts and is properly maintained.
1. Drained battery
A drained battery is one of the easiest problems to identify. If you’re struggling to start the engine or if the engine won’t start at all, your battery might need to be recharged or replaced. You might also notice problems with the car’s electrical components like the headlights or the radio.
The most common causes of a drained battery are:
- Leaving the headlights on
- Not using your car for a long period of time
- Extreme changes in weather
- A bad alternator
If your car has vital safety features that rely on electricity, it’s important to make sure that the battery is in working condition. If you don’t, features like blind spot sensors, automatic braking systems or tractional control systems will not work properly. This could increase your risk of getting into an accident, especially if you’ve become reliant on such safety features.
If you can’t start your car, see if you can jump start the engine with jumper cables. Beyond this, it’s best to visit a mechanic as soon as possible. Car batteries can leak corrosive and poisonous substances, which, if handled improperly, could cause injury or damage to your vehicle. At your local car service shop, a qualified mechanic should be able to advise you if the battery can be recharged or needs to be replaced.
2. Overheated engine
The engine is the heart of your vehicle. Unfortunately, there are plenty of issues that can cause your engine to overheat. A coolant leak, a broken radiator fan and clogged lines can all cause your engine to reach extremely high temperatures.
If your engine starts malfunctioning, you’ll likely notice strange smells, odd noises or, worse, you might notice that you have less control of your car. This, then, increases your risk of getting into a serious car accident.
As a result, it’s important to recognise when your engine is getting too hot. If you’re not careful, an overheated engine will eventually sustain major or permanent damage.
Here are the most common signs that your engine is overheating:
- Coolant leaks
- Visible steam coming from the engine
- Strange thumping noises
- Unusual ticking noises
- The hood is hot to the touch
If you notice any of these signs, it’s recommended that you don’t tamper with the vehicle unless you’re really experienced with car engines. Additionally, for your own safety, it’s best not to access the cooling system while the car is running hot. Visit your mechanic as soon as you can and they’ll be able to help you with the necessary repairs or replacements.
3. Worn brake pads
Your braking system is the most important safety feature of your vehicle. As such, it’s essential that you do your best to take care of it as best as you can.
Unfortunately, over time, your brake pads will wear down and won’t be able to produce the appropriate amount of friction to stop the rotors effectively. As a result of this, you will be forced to apply more pressure on the brake pedal in order for your car to stop. On a busy road where you have to worry about countless hazards, this could end up being a serious problem.
The most common signs of worn brake pads are squeaking sounds, unusual vibrations, and an unresponsive brake pedal.
If you notice any of these signs, see a qualified mechanic as soon as you can. Not only will they be able to replace your brake pads, they’ll also be able to check the condition of the calipers, the master cylinder and the brake fluid.
4. Dim or broken lights
At night, it’s important for other cars to be able to see you. According to a report by the World Health Organization, poor visibility was a factor in 65% of car crashes in Victoria. Indeed, if your headlights are broken or slightly dimmed, you’re at a higher risk of getting into a serious accident.
Malfunctioning headlights can be caused by a variety of things. If one headlight doesn’t work, it’s likely due to a burned-out bulb. If this is the case, you can usually change the bulb out yourself by following the car’s service manual. In most cases, it’s probably best to change both bulbs to avoid having headlights of different brightness.
If both lights aren’t working, it’s probably due to a wiring fault inside your vehicle. In this case, we recommend that you visit a mechanic. Electrical repairs can be extremely dangerous if you’re not properly trained in the discipline.
If both headlights work but they’re a little dimmed, then it’s likely due to foggy lenses. If your headlights have only recently gotten foggy, when you might be able to restore them by yourself. However, if it’s been a while, you may want to visit a car detailer or mechanic.
5. Visible exhaust smoke
Seeing smoke coming out of the exhaust might be a sign that something is wrong with your car. With exhaust smoke, you’ll likely see one of three colours:
Black smoke is usually a sign that excessive fuel is being burned. This can be caused by clogged injectors, clogged air filters or a bad fuel-pressure injector.
In most cases, white smoke is actually vapour. If you see thin white smoke coming out of your exhaust, it’s likely nothing serious. However, if you see thick, white smoke, it might be a sign of a damaged cylinder, a cracked engine block or a blown gasket.
Grey smoke, on the other hand, is often due to excess oil consumption, a bad turbocharger or PCV valve failure.
If you see blue smoke coming out of your exhaust and you smell something burning, it might be a sign that your engine is burning oil.
If you’re having any of these problems, it’s best to see a qualified mechanic so that they can diagnose the issue for you.
There you have it, five of the most common car problems. With the internet nowadays, it’s easy to look up a tutorial and attempt to do a repair on your own. However, there’s a reason why mechanics have to go through extensive training before they can work as a qualified servicer. Repairing and maintaining cars is a much more complicated task than we’d like to believe. Because of this, it’s highly recommended that you leave the repairs to the professional.