More than two-thirds of car owners reported having a mechanical issue with their vehicles. While this number is staggering, the truth is worse. Many participants in this study likely had car issues but weren’t aware of them.
As a car owner, it’s guaranteed that something will go wrong with your car. Pieces break down over time, and some cars have defects right out of the gate. If you ignore common signs of vehicle problems, it could turn a minor repair bill into a large one.
That’s why you should be aware of some of the most common car issues. All it takes is a sharp eye or ear to tell when something’s wrong. Read on to discover 11 common car problems and their symptoms.
1. Cloudy Headlights
Headlights typically last for 100,000 miles. However, the acrylic cover oxidizes over time. This causes headlights to become less effective as the lenses turn yellow and cloudy.
But you don’t need new headlights to fix the problem. You can purchase cleaning kits online or at automotive stores. Your mechanic also has access to powerful cleaning agents that erase the cloudy film.
2. Dead Battery
Your car’s battery starts the engine and powers headlights and peripheral devices. If you notice your car struggles to start, there’s a good chance your battery may be on its last legs.
A typical battery has a lifespan of 50,000 miles. But if you don’t drive your car often, it will lose its charge capacity at a faster pace. A mechanic can check the charge to confirm if your battery is to blame.
When you want to replace your battery, you can do it yourself, take it to a mechanic, or have it replaced at most automotive stores.
3. Squeaking Brakes
Car problems often have tactile or audible symptoms. As far as your brakes are concerned, they should never squeak.
The only exception is if your vehicle has been sitting for several days or if it’s recently rained. Even so, these sounds should quickly fade away.
Your vehicle’s braking system is one of its most important components. If your brakes are malfunctioning or in need of replacement, it’s imperative you take it to a mechanic right away.
Failure to do so could lead to grinding, damage to your braking system, and the inability to stop your vehicle.
4. Vibrating Steering Wheel
Is your steering wheel shaking or vibrating? That’s a sure sign of car trouble. A variety of minor and major car complications can cause this shaking to occur.
It could be as simple as uneven tire wear, something that’s bound to happen when you don’t rotate your tires. However, it also suggests an issue with your suspension or braking system.
5. Transmission Troubles
An automatic transmission is responsible for shifting gears and transferring engine power to the tires. It’s a complicated system with plenty of seals, gears, and components — many of which won’t last forever.
You’ll know there’s an issue with your transmission when your vehicle has trouble shifting gears. Jerky shifts during a gear transition are common. “Transmission slipping” is another sign of car problems, which is when the gear seems to shift of its own volition.
If you experience any of these complications, take your vehicle to a mechanic right away. This is one of several car repairs you should never do yourself.
6. Leaking Radiator
Sometimes radiators can corrode and allow coolant to escape. Even a short drip will cause problems in the near future. Without enough coolant, your engine can’t maintain a safe operating temperature.
There are two clear signs of a radiator problem. If you see a liquid pooling up under your parked car, it could be coolant dripping from the radiator. Look at your fluid levels to see if you’ve got a leak.
The other issue is more serious: Your engine is overheating.
7. Car Issues Indicated by Warning Lights
There are dozens of warning lights on most vehicles. Although the check engine light is the most feared, there are others just as concerning. The warning lights can tell you when you need oil, a battery replacement, or even a tire rotation on some models.
Don’t ignore a warning light. Mechanics have access to special devices that determine the cause of the warning light.
If it’s nothing, great. But if it’s something more serious, you’ll be glad you took it in.
8. Damaged Windshield
Windshields take a lot of damage over time. Even small rocks can leave micro-tears on your windshield. While they may not be visible during the day, they’ll catch light during night driving and restrict your vision.
Bigger cracks are more serious concerns and are likely to grow as time passes.
9. Broken AC
If you have a pre-owned vehicle, problems with your air conditioner are on the horizon. AC has a lifespan of about a decade.
At first, you may notice the air from your AC isn’t as cold as before. Before too long, it’ll only blow hot air. However, there’s a possibility your AC just needs a simple recharge to function again.
A trained mechanic will be able to diagnose the situation.
10. Smoking Components
You’ll know something has gone wrong when smoke is billowing out from your car’s hood. Maybe there’s an undiagnosed radiator leak, or you’re low on coolant. But the engine isn’t the only component that can overheat.
For example, your braking system can seize up from friction. Instead of smoke coming from the engine, it’ll blow out of the wheel well. If your vehicle emits smoke of any kind, it’s time to get it serviced.
11. Stripped Tires
Too many car owners ignore their tires. But that small strip of rubber is the only thing keeping your vehicle off the road and in control. When the tread wears away, you’ll have a harder time stopping your vehicle and be at risk of hydroplaning in inclement weather.
And stripped tires aren’t your only concern. If you don’t drive often, you’ll also have to contend with rot since rubber degrades over time. If you see hairline fractures on your tires, replace them ASAP.
Stay Safe on the Road
Car issues aren’t just an inconvenience. They can increase your odds of being involved in an accident, putting your life at risk as well as those around you. By staying alert to signs of vehicle problems, you’ll be in a better position to resolve them before they worsen.
For more advice to keep your vehicle on the road, check out the automotive section of our blog.