Car problems

7 Warning Signs That Your Car Is in Need of Service

Cars are sophisticated pieces of machinery that contain hundreds of individual moving parts. If even one of these parts is damaged, compromised, or used improperly, it could cause irreparable damage to your vehicle and potentially put your life in danger. When you notice clear warning signs, it’s important to take your car in for service immediately.

But what are those warning signs and how can you ensure you notice them?

Signs Your Car Is in Need of Service

Your Car Is in Need Service

Some of the most common signs that your car is in need of service include:

1. Warning lights are on

Most modern vehicles are equipped with a host of different warning lights, including lights advising you on specific issues and general warning lights indicating that something is wrong. It’s true that occasionally, these lights can malfunction, and provide you with a signal for a problem that isn’t there. But even this is an issue that needs to be corrected eventually. Some warning lights are issues you can handle yourself; for example, if the pressure in one of your tires is low, stop at a nearby gas station and fill it up. Other lights are more complicated or more ambiguous, such as the “check engine” light. Most people will need professional assistance if they see a light like this.

2. You hear a strange noise

Cars naturally make some noise, but when you notice a noise that’s out of the ordinary, it could be a sign that something is severely wrong with your vehicle. There are too many issues associated with strange noises to list here, so instead, focus on capturing the noise to the best of your ability so you can inform your mechanic about what’s going on. Pay attention to when the noise happens, what the noise sounds like, and where you hear the noise emanating from. Better yet, take an audio recording or a video so you can demonstrate the noise itself.

3. Unexplained liquid is dripping

There are some occasions when dripping liquid from a car is perfectly acceptable; for example, after a heavy snow or rain, you can expect to find a puddle under your car the next morning. However, if you notice dripping liquid with no other explanation, it’s a sign you should take your car in for service as soon as possible.

4. Your brakes aren’t working the way they used to

vehicle’s braking system

Your vehicle’s braking system is a bit more complicated than you might think – but there are usually only a few potential culprits if your brakes aren’t working the way they once did. The most likely scenario is that your brake pads have worn down and now need replacing, but it’s also possible that you’ve lost braking fluid. In any case, your brakes are some of the most important safety features on your vehicle, so if they aren’t working at full capacity, it’s a significant safety issue.

5. Your car’s power is inconsistent or failing

Do you notice that your car is stalling or that you experience inconsistency in the power available to your vehicle? This is a sure sign that something is off internally. The fix could be as simple as replacing a spark plug, but it’s a good idea to take your car in for service to be sure.

6. You notice smoke

heavy smoke while driving

No one wants to see smoke releasing from their vehicle, especially if that smoke is thick, black, and overpowering. But even a thin trickle of white smoke is something to be concerned about. If you notice heavy smoke while driving, pull to the side of the road and contact emergency services, leaving the vehicle as soon as possible. If you notice thin wisps of smoke that aren’t as concerning, simply get to a mechanic as soon as you can.

7. There are significant vibrations when driving

vibrations when driving

Cars naturally vibrate very slightly when driving, but if you notice significant shaking, it’s a sign that there’s a much more serious problem at play. It could be a tire balance issue, but it could also be something much worse.

Depending on the severity of these problems, you may be able to get away with delaying service for a couple of weeks, but it should still be a major priority for you. Problems in vehicles tend to get worse, not better, so the sooner you get your car in for service, the sooner you’ll be able to drive safely again.

On the other end of the spectrum, if you’ve already been dealing with the problem for a few days or a few weeks, or if you notice the problem is getting more intense, you need to take your car in for service before you attempt to drive it again. There’s no reason to risk your life and the lives of others just to procrastinate a trip to the mechanic.

The Importance of Preventative Maintenance

It’s also important to recognize the value of preventative maintenance. Taking your car in for service at least twice a year is generally a good idea. During this periodic service, an automotive expert can change your oil, rotate your tires, and give your vehicle a thorough inspection to flag any potential issues that might be wrong with your car. It’s much easier and less expensive to prevent issues or correct them when they’re small than to deal with the aftermath of a catastrophic failure. In the future, make sure your car is serviced and inspected regularly.

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