No vehicle lasts forever, but there is a lot drivers can do to make their vehicle run stronger for longer. First and foremost is performing regularly scheduled maintenance. This ensures your vehicle receives the care and attention it needs before it’s overdue.
Second is taking your vehicle to a qualified mechanic as soon as you notice signs of problem. Maybe the vehicle is driving funny. Maybe there is a bad smell, an unusual sound, of troubling indicator light. Early attention keeps minor issues from becoming major hassles. Here are some signs that indicate you need to get to a repair shop sooner rather than later:
Check Engine Light – Most makes/models made within the last 30 years have an indicator light that turns on when engine trouble is detected. If the issue is concerning but not necessarily an emergency the light will stay illuminated. But if your vehicle requires immediate attention the light may flash. Never disregard this clear sign that something is wrong with your vehicle.
Engine Smoke – Even though the average engine has an extremely hot operating temperature, it is carefully designed not to burn anything up. If smoke is coming from under the hood it suggests that something has malfunctioned, likely involving the cooling system. Seeing a mechanic is essential. But watch the engine temperature gauge on the dashboard to ensure you don’t overheat while driving to the shop.
Exhaust Smoke – It is normal for a little bit of smoke to come from the exhaust; particularly when the outdoor temperature is changing from hot to cold. However, if the smoke is consistent or excessive it indicates something is wrong. Sometimes you may not see the smoke. But you will notice a black residue on the bumper of the vehicle above the exhaust pipe. Take it in, and get it checked.
Transmission Problems – Transmission are complicated systems, and there are a host of issues that can lead to problems with performance. You already know how your vehicle drives normally. So, take notice when your vehicle struggles to get up to speed, accelerates faster than you’re used to, or makes sounds that seem unfamiliar. Unfortunately, transmission work can be expensive and time consuming. So, if you are having troubles, you will want to seek out professional attention immediately.
Leaking Fluids – Your vehicle depends on a variety of specialized fluids to perform as intended. If you notice fluids under or around your vehicle when parked it’s evidence of a serious issue. Keep an eye on the color of the leakage. Watch for green coolant fluids towards the front of the vehicle. Transmission fluid, engine oil, or brake fluid that will appear red or brown. Be aware that in the summer months your air conditioner will naturally leak water. That’s okay. The others are what should concern you.
Strange Sounds – One of the most reliable ways to tell something is off about your vehicle is when it begins to sound differently. A dragging sound could indicate a bad wheel bearing. And when your brakes need replacement, they will squeak loudly as you slow down. Instead of turning up the radio, get yourself to a mechanic.
Performance Problems – Even as cars get older, they perform largely the same as new. Or they should, anyway. If performance suddenly declines, it’s a pretty clear indicator that something is wrong under the hood. Notice when the engine seems to be chugging, shaking, or racing.
Working with a good mechanic is one way to save money on your vehicle, but it’s not the only way. You should also travel conscientiously so that you use less gas. Take a moment compare car insurance rates to save money on coverage. Another idea is to clean the interior and exterior regularly to avoid depreciation. And you should drive carefully to avoid accidents, damage, wear, and tear.
There is nothing you can do to protect a vehicle completely. But there is a lot you can do to extend its life and protect its value.