Today’s vehicles are wonderful. Combined with modern roads, they allow us to go further and faster than ever before. Fuelling this advancement in travel is a rapid advancement in the cars themselves. We have come a long way from the first vehicles that were very basic in their design. Unfortunately, our cars are now so advanced that sometimes it is hard to tell if our vehicle is in need of car servicing, and more challenging yet to discern what to do about the problems that we do recognize.
Let’s start with a few of the most common problems. Most owners will clue in to the fact that their car has a problem when one of the following happen:
· The car won’t start.
· The car makes a loud noise.
· The car begins to vibrate while driving.
· The car’s “service” light comes on in the dash.
· Smoke or steam is seen to come from the engine compartment.
· The car loses power and begins running in a sluggish manner.
Taking these warning signs one at a time will help us understand how to tell if the car has a problem.
The Car Won’t Start –
Often a vehicle not starting is the most obvious sign to a driver that something is not working correctly. These are the most common causes of a vehicle not starting as it should:
A Drained Battery –
The battery of your car provides the energy that the vehicle uses to spin the starter motor and to give the first spark for the engine to start. If somehow your engine’s battery has been drained, then your car will do nothing when the ignition key is turned or button is pushed. Car batteries are rechargeable and do not fail very often. The usual problem of a drained battery is caused by the operator leaving the lights of the vehicle on for an extended period of time while the car is turned off. When your car won’t start getting the battery charged or changed may be in order.
An Empty Fuel Tank –
Your car won’t work without fuel. If your car is trying to start (the engine is making some noise) but won’t keep going, check to make sure that there is fuel in the tank. It is important that you do not allow your car to run until the fuel tank is empty because there is dirt that accumulates in the bottom of your tank. This dirt could be sucked up into the pump clogging the fuel filter. Never run your fuel tank dry.
A Corroded Wire or Loose Connection –
If you have fuel in your tank and the battery is charged (some cars have gauges that show you how much charge your battery has) then your car may have a loose connection or corroded wire. The first place to look is to check the post connections where the wires attach to the battery to make sure that vibration has not worked them loose or that corrosion is not keeping the current from flowing through the connection.
If the car still won’t start after you have checked these things it is time to bring in a professional mechanic to further examine your vehicle.
The Car Makes A Loud Noise –
If your car makes a loud noise while you are driving it is best that you calmly find a place to pull over check on what caused the noise and possibly call for experienced help. Loud noises in vehicles are never good. These are the common problems that can cause a loud noise.
An Exhaust System Failure –
Sometimes when a car gets older the exhaust system begins to develop rust and can, if it goes unnoticed, cause part or all of the exhaust system to break free from the vehicle. This causes a much louder engine noise as well as the noise of the exhaust parts falling and scraping against the road.
A Tire Failure –
When a tire fails, it causes both noise and severe steering wheel vibration. The noise produced by this failure can vary from sounding like a gunshot to sounding like a grinding noise as the wheel rim comes in contact with the road surface.
Catastrophic Engine Failure –
This is rare, but it can happen. Car motors don’t last forever. They are made up of hundreds of moving metal parts that over time wear down. If one of those parts breaks away inside of the engine, the engine will begin to make noise (sometimes violent noise) and suddenly quit running.
The Car Begins To Vibrate While Driving –
If you begin to feel the steering wheel vibrate while you are driving, it could be the sign of a problem with your vehicle. One thing to consider before turning your attention to a possible problem with the car is whether or not the road that you are driving on is flat and smooth. Obviously, a rutted road or a road with potholes will cause vibration that is not related to the operation of the vehicle. However, if your steering wheel begins to vibrate and the road that you are travelling on is relatively flat and smooth, you have a problem. Often the problem is this case is one of these:
Wheel Imbalance –
The tires on your car have to be perfectly round and perfectly balanced to give you a smooth ride. If one of your tires fails and goes slightly out of round (or loses one of the tiny weights that tire installers use to keep the wheel in balance) it can cause vibration.
Failure Related to the Steering and Parts that Hold the Wheels in Place –
The steering on your vehicle is made up of moving parts and these parts, if not maintained properly can fail causing violent vibrations. If you feel violent vibrations in your car pull over immediately to the side of the road.
The Car’s Service Light Comes On –
Most vehicles are equipped with a light that comes on in the dash alerting the driver to potential problems with the car’s operation. When this light comes on it is not necessarily an emergency, but it is important for you to find a safe place to pull over and to check your owner’s manual to see exactly what that light is telling you about the operation of the vehicle.
Smoke or Steam is Coming from the Engine Compartment –
If this occurs, it is essential that you pull over immediately and turn off the engine. Something is very wrong. Smoke means that something is burning. (example: wires, oil, fuel) If steam is coming from the engine compartment it means that the water and coolant is escaping from the engine and that the car is in danger of overheating. This could ruin the engine.
The Car Loses Power –
By “losing power” we mean that the driver is stepping on the gas pedal wanting the vehicle to pick up speed and nothing is happening. If your car loses power as you are driving it that means that there is something wrong. The problems can vary from a computer malfunction to a clogged air filter. However, this is not a problem that can be readily fixed or diagnosed. It requires a professional mechanic. Pull the car over to the side of the road safely and call for help. Car servicing is required.