The majority of modern vehicles have very little need for a mechanic in-between services, but on the odd occasion you may need some expert help. And if your vehicle is no longer under warranty, you’ll want to pay close attention to the warning signs. Here’s what to look out for:
This may seem like an obvious point, but there are many people who either don’t notice warning lights or assume they’re not urgent. Make a point of checking the dashboard when you switch on the vehicle – if any warning lights are showing, first check what they are . Depending on which light is showing, make the call if your car can be driven or not. If you’re unsure what the warning light means, it’s best to contact the manufacturer or dealership. Engine warning lights, for example, can indicate a very serious problem and you could cause major and expensive damage if you ignore it.
Yes, sometimes it’s as simple as something just not sounding ‘right’. Most drivers know their cars well (we spend a lot of time in them), and if you pick up any sounds that seem concerning, it’s best to get it checked by an expert. First check that it’s not something rolling around in the boot though (happens to the best of us).
If you notice any liquids leaking out of your car, it needs to be checked. Some cars tend to leak a little bit of coolant or water, especially if they’ve been driven over long distances, but regular puddles under your car could indicate a bigger problem. If it’s clear that the liquid is fuel or oil, it’s best to call your mechanic and ask how to proceed. If it’s a fuel leak, or serious oil leak, you might not be able to drive it at all and will need to have the vehicle towed.
If there is any kind of smoke or steam coming out of the engine, pull over and call an expert. There are rare cases where a little bit of excess oil is burning off, but as a rule you should never see any smoke or steam coming from the engine – no matter what car you drive.
Any loss of power can indicate a fault with the engine. It might be gradual, or you may notice an overnight difference, but if your car suddenly becomes sluggish when you try to accelerate it’s a clear warning sign that the engine needs attention. In some newer cars it could simply require a software adjustment, but it’s best not to take any risks.
Small electronic ‘glitches’ will make their way into most vehicles over time. The radio might be sluggish to switch on, or the windows might not open as smoothly as they used to. If your car is showing a number of electronic glitches, it may mean there’s a bigger underlying problem. So, if you start picking up unnecessary delays or certain functions are unresponsive, your car definitely needs to be looked at.
As with any other ‘appliance’, you need to pay attention to your car and be aware of signs that could indicate yours need some attention. Even minor things, such as electronic glitches, can be a sign of a serious underlying problem that can leave you stranded if you don’t get it looked at as soon as possible.
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