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Five Telltale Signs Your Car Needs a Service

Nothing is more inconvenient than trouble with your car. Ironically, it always seems to strike when we are in desperate need to get somewhere such as our place of work. Many of us have experienced this annoyance, some even noticed something a little off but didnít recognise the warning signs. However, you can prevent future frustrations by learning to identify these five telltale signs for servicing your car.

1. Are You Having Difficulty Starting?

Trouble starting is a significant warning sign of an impending problem. Notice when you turn the key that it struggles to turn over or delays in firing up. If the problem is recurring or progressively worsening you need to stop by at a car mechanic.

Colder weather/winter months are much tougher on a carís starting system. Weaknesses become apparent through the strain, often taken to the breaking point.

2. Do You See Dashboard/Service Lights?

Almost all cars have dashboard lights to signify maintenance, service or low-level warnings. Modern cars have the most intelligent warning systems but older cars will still have a number of basic warnings.

When an indicator lights up, your car is trying to draw you attention to a potential issue. You should immediately grab your car handbook and look up the meaning of the symbol.

Some indicators may seem ambiguous, such as ďcheck engineĒ. In this case, you should take it to your mechanic for further diagnosis.

Sometimes itís a simple as a low fluid level that you can immediately remedy. Just be sure to keep a careful watch on the level for a while and check for leaks.

3. Do You Have Leaking Fluid?

Can you see any liquid marks or patches left on your regular parking spot? A small amount of residue may accumulate over time but excessive leaks must be addressed promptly.† The resultant low/empty fluid levels will cause significant damage.

You may be able to further diagnose a leak using a cover to catch and identify the liquid. Engine coolant often has a vibrant colour such as dark green.† Red, brown or black liquids could be engine oil, brake or gearbox fluid.

4. Can You Hear Unusual Noises?

Unfamiliar sounds/noises during starting, running or general driving often hint at mechanical problems.

-††† Droning/dragging noises are often caused by worn out wheel or differential bearings.

-††† Squealing/grinding when slowing down points to brake problems.

-††† If steering produces a squealing sound you may have low steering fluid and a leak.

-††† If your carís engine seems noticeably louder whilst running or acceleration, your exhaust system probably requires attention.

-††† Engine knocking/clattering is often caused by lack of engine oil. Pinging noises can be due to injector problems.

If you notice the addition of a strange noise, donít just neglect it.

Whilst your car appears to run problem free, it could still be causing damage that leads to a later failure.

5. Can You See Any Smoke?

Steam or smoke rising from under the bonnet is an immediate red flag. You could be on the verge of a major breakdown any minute.

Smoke from your exhaust can also signify serious problems. Burning oil produces dark/bluish smoke and a strange smell. Also, check for a large residue build up around the tailpipe. White smoke can be caused by a coolant leak, itís also a telltale sign of a blown head gasket.

Remember during cold weather, a small amount of smoke is to be expected from your exhaust. Only worry if you notice excessive smoke that is not caused by chilly weather.

published: 19/02/2016 09:05:46

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