We all tend to take our cars for granted and expect them to work smoothly for us continually. While you may do all the right things when it comes to servicing and otherwise maintaining your vehicle, problems can and do occur, even in newer cars.
To avoid getting stuck on the side of the road anytime soon, it’s essential to watch out for common signs that a vehicle breakdown is imminent.
Very High Mileage
If your car has a high number of miles on it, it’s obviously more worn than newer vehicles, and more likely to have potential issues go wrong with it. Once you hit the century mark, in particular, and have 100,000 or more miles on your vehicle, there’s a higher chance of the car breaking down.
Some cars do run well for longer, though, so use other factors to help you determine the state of your vehicle. If you see multiple issues, it might be time to consider investing in a new car.
Dashboard Fault Lights Come On
Another notable sign of an imminent car breakdown is when dashboard fault lights illuminate. Some people ignore the warning lights but do so to their detriment. Some of the lights relate to standard maintenance factors, but sometimes they’re letting you know something more dangerous is afoot.
For example, if the battery icon doesn’t light up when you first start your car, or if it stays lit while driving or while the engine fails to start, this indicates there’s a problem with the battery charging system or the battery itself. It’s likely time to buy a new car battery.
Also, if the check engine light pops up, take your car to the mechanic or service dealer. If you see the oil light, it’s best to pull over and call for help as you can significantly damage your vehicle if you keep driving it if it’s run out of oil or has a significant oil leak. All of these problems can cause a car to break down and leave you in the lurch if you ignore them.
Difficulty Starting the Car
Car breakdowns don’t always happen when we’re out and about, driving, either. You may have trouble starting your car, which means you can’t leave home, or you get stuck at another destination. Alternatively, you may have difficulty starting the car but eventually get it running. In the first instance, call for a roadside patrol or tow truck to help you, and in the latter, take your car to a mechanic or dealer.
When cars don’t start, this can stem from a variety of problems. For instance, there may be an issue with the battery or with its connections, or you may have a faulty fuel or ignition system that needs attending to ASAP.
If your car starts okay, but you notice its acceleration seems abnormally sluggish, slower than usual, this is another indication your vehicle isn’t healthy. It should be looked at for diagnosis and repair. Some of the problems which may lead to this change in operation are clogged fuel injectors, transmission and engine wear, dirty air cleaners, and using the wrong fuel for your vehicle (which can cause a raft of issues).
Excessive Vibrations or Jerking
Do you feel like you’re being jerked around or notice excessive vibrations in the car when driving? These signs are telling you that your car needs work done on it and could go kaput soon if you don’t have it repaired. You may notice these signs if your car has a warped brake rotor, out of balance or damaged driveshafts or axles, or worn-out CV (constant velocity) joints, among other things.
Obvious Visual Indications
Often you’ll see visual indications on and around your car that alert you to its possible demise. For example, if you see puddles under the vehicle, especially green or blue ones, these could be from leaking coolant and cause your car’s engine to overheat. Green powder around the battery indicates damage or corrosion, while metal flakes in the car oil signify corrosion, too, all of which can cause problems both straight away and over time.
As you’d imagine, noticing any kind of smoke coming from your vehicle’s bonnet or other spots, or the smell of fuel or exhaust in the cabin, is a clear warning sign something negative is going on.
You could have worn engine components, faulty electronic sensors, dirty air filters, broken air-conditioning compressors, or other issues at hand. Pullover ASAP and exit the car to avoid carbon monoxide fumes as well as potential fires.
If you’re worried your car is on the brink of a breakdown, book it in with your local garage or dealer, or call a roadside patrol for on-the-spot repairs. Hopefully, though, knowing the signs to pay attention to will help you to avoid costly repairs and keep you on the road when you need to be.