Seven Signs of Car Trouble – And What You Should Do To Save Your Ride



There are a lot of things that can go wrong with your vehicle. That is why it is so important to keep the regular maintenance schedule up-to-date. But what happens if you have been doing that and something unusual like a thumping noise or a funny smell occurs? Well, those are quite simply warning signs of something wrong and if you ignore them, your vehicle may do something drastic to get your attention. So, here is a look at seven signs to pay attention to.


1 – Sluggish Acceleration

This is when you put your foot into it and the vehicle doesn’t quite respond as you would have preferred. There are a few reasons why your vehicle may be acting this way when you need it to go zoom past a slower vehicle or up a hill.

Using the right fuel for your car is vitally important and the lower the octane level in the fuel, the less performance will result. Premium fuels are typically the recommendation of auto manufacturers and that’s because they will keep your vehicle running in the best of condition.

Dirty air cleaners, clogged fuel injectors, low tire pressure, and general engine and transmission wear can all contribute to sluggish acceleration. This is where regular maintenance will make a difference.


What To Do

Take your vehicle to an auto service center as soon as possible so a qualified mechanic can diagnose the situation and discuss the proper repair program with you.


2 – Brakes That Are Noisy/Squeaky

Every vehicle requires good brakes but since you don’t see them, they may not be at the top of your priority list. What you should be doing is observing how your vehicle slows down and stops. When the brake pads get worn, small metal tabs on them can result in a squealing sound caused by friction. It is a sign that the brake pads need replacing.

The reason why you need to act on any type of noise coming from the braking action of your vehicle is that worn pads or shoes can result in costly damage to the rotor or drums. The squeaking can be from a defective rotor or drums so you should get them looked at as soon as you can as driving with faulty brakes is not only dangerous, it is illegal and can create additional mechanical damage.


What To Do

If you can drive the vehicle safely, get it to a mechanic quickly for repair. If the vehicle cannot be driven safely, have it towed to your nearest auto repair center.


3 – Smoke Coming From The Exhaust

This is not something you will want to pass off as a temporary situation that will pass. Smoke coming from anywhere in your car means something serious is happening. When it comes from the exhaust system there could be several reasons. Some are minor, others are not.

Poor fuel combustion may cause excessive black smoke in modern diesel vehicles. This is a result of faulty injectors or the exhaust system itself. Sometimes the smoke is a characteristic of older model diesel cars.

In petrol vehicles, too much fuel being fed into the engine due to a dirty air filter or faulty electronic sensor can produce black smoke from the exhaust.

Blue/grey smoke could point to worn engine parts such as the piston rings or cylinder bores.


What To Do

Take your car to an auto service center so a mechanic can properly diagnose the situation.


4 – You Can Smell Fuel Or Exhaust In The Cabin

This is an urgent situation if you smell either fuel or exhaust as the former presents a fire and health risk where the latter contains lethal carbon monoxide. What makes this an even more serious situation is that carbon monoxide has no odour.

However, there are a few possibilities why you may be smelling either of these inside your car. First, ensure that you are not smelling these things from a vehicle in front of you. Second, consider a possible leak in the exhaust system from anywhere between the engine and tailpipe. Fuel fumes can come from a leak anywhere in the fuel system between the tank, through the fuel lines and possibly in the engine compartment.


What To Do

Park your vehicle safely, turn off the ignition, stand clear of the vehicle and seek roadside assistance.


5 – Thumps And Other Unusual Noises

It is not always easy to pinpoint the cause of various other automobile noises that can be described as knocks, rattles, hisses, clunks or whines. However, some are fairly simple to identify. For example, a knocking sound from the engine can signal either low fuel octane or the need for a tune-up.

Whines can come from several places as can rattles. Clunks and thumps may be coming from the axle, universal joint, steering or even the engine mounts. One way to try to eliminate causes and narrow down where the sound is coming from is with a test drive and visual inspection. Just don’t be too surprised if the repair cost is somewhat more than you expected as the sound you’ve been hearing could be the sign of something serious.


What To Do

If you are unable to identify the source of the noise, take a friend on a drive to see if maybe they can narrow down the location of the sound. If this doesn’t produce results, take your car to a mechanic for service.


6 – Difficulty Starting

You turn the key and all you hear is a click. Or the engine cranks a little then quits. There could be a few possible sources for this. If the car battery is old or has loose connections this could be your culprit. A faulty fuel ignition system and even an empty fuel tank can prevent you from starting your vehicle.


What To Do

Purchase a new battery or have the vehicle towed to an auto repair shop for service.


7 – Excessive Vibrations

Vibrations can come from many places. It could be related to the wheels, brakes, axles or engine. Check the tires and ensure that they are properly installed. Loose nuts may be the cause. The wheels may be out of alignment, tire pressure may be off on one or more tires. The axles or driveshaft can be out of balance, and the list could go on.


What To Do

Your best bet is to take your vehicle to a trusted auto repair center for a mechanic to inspect and repair.