Which are the most common problems that we could have with our cars? What causes them and how to diagnose them easily? Those are questions that bother most of the drivers. No matter if you know something about car mechanics, or you’ve just bought your first car, most of the potential malfunctions could be diagnosed without visiting your mechanics. There are many ways to find out what troubles your vehicle. For most of them, you just need to follow your basic senses.
It is easy to notice strange vibrations, bad smell in the cabin, or to see that something leaks. Moreover, you can even feel by feet and keep your brakes from potential issues. Still, some problems could be more complicated, but not necessary incomprehensible. Here are some things that are always good to know.
First of all, we would like to mention some base tips that everyone should consider. For example, some strange smell inside the car could be noticed easily. One of the most common issues is a strange smell from your air vents. This is not a big problem, at least in most cases. Still, it is a clear indicator that you should check your coolant. Another common issue is a smell of gas. There are two types of smell. If you smell fresh gasoline, check for leaks on fuel supply system, somewhere under the hood. On the other side, burned gasoline indicates exhaust system issues.
Hearing odd sounds is also a clear indicator of potential problems. Creaking or squeaking sounds usually indicate problems with your suspensions. If there are screeches while braking, it is time to check brake pads.
If you notice some leaks under your car, the best way to diagnose issues is the color of the liquid. For example, clear fluids refer to the braking system. On the other side, your coolant is usually green, pink, yellow or brown. Dark red color refers to your transmission or power steering system. Finally, black color means that oil leaks from your engine.
Also, check the color of the smoke from your exhaust. Four most common colors are black, blue, white and grey.
This color is probably easiest for diagnosis. It usually means that your engine wastes too much fuel. So, check your calibration and parts like fuel injectors, air-conditioning filter, etc.
Blue color means your engine is burning oil. Years of driving will use up your gasket. So, oil usually starts to leak into the engine’s burning chamber. This color practically means that you should check your oil level much more often and pour some more if needed.
A small amount of white smoke usually means nothing more than a condensation inside your exhaust system. On the other side, if you notice a huge white cloud on your mirrors, be sure that your engine is in critical condition. The thing is that your coolant leaks into the engine and mixes with oil. The result is always the same – overheating, which leads you to expensive repairs of your valves, vents, engine block, etc.
This could become your nightmare. One thing is certain – don’t count on precise diagnosis, even after visiting mechanics. This color could mean a lot of things. Once again, it could be oil burning. Still, you could also count on increased fuel consumption. Hopefully, your car uses a naturally-aspirated engine since this color could also mean turbocharger issues.
Those are some basic ways to diagnose issues with your car. Still, there are many other things to check before visiting your mechanics. Here are some of the common issues that you can usually diagnose by yourself:
If you use the same battery for years, you can easily check its capacity by yourself. Of course, you will need an instrument called multimeter. By checking the voltage, you can diagnose the condition of the battery pretty accurate. If the voltage is around 12.7 A, your battery is 100% charged. Here are some parameters:
12.7 A – your battery is 100% charged
12.35 A – your battery is 75% charged
12.1 A – your battery is 50% charged
11.95 A – your battery is 25% charged
This method could give us some general picture of battery’s condition, but it is also important to check so-called cold-cranking amps, which means how much power you have for cold morning starts. This can be tested only with some more professional tools.
If your battery is not so old, but still don’t have much power, check car’s alternator, which is responsible for charging.
The engine is the most complex part of your car, so count on many potential issues. Although I would always recommend a visit to mechanics, there are several basic diagnosis things that you should know. For example, put your shifter on neutral and you can easily hear&feel if your engine doesn’t work synchronized. If you notice something, count on several potential issues. Some of the common problems are humidity of electric installations, stuffy valves, old air filter, etc. There are even more potential problems if your car doesn’t accelerate well. In this case, you will definitely have to visit your mechanics. Once again, count on problems with electric installations, but also with things like fuel pump, fuel injector, air flow, old or dirty spark plugs, ignition coil, etc.
Another issue is engine overheating. In this case, you should first check your radiator, because it is quite possible that there is not enough coolant in there. Also, check your oil level. Finally, check your fan, it could be damaged.
Wheels and Suspension Issues
First of all, check your tires. Edges should be evenly worn. If not, you have a clear indicator that something is wrong with wheels alignment. Also, it is possible that something is wrong with the steering mechanism. If your car goes out of control while braking, you should count on suspension problems. Most common are shock and spring issues, but you should also check your tires. Tire pressure should be the same on all wheels.
Of course, the number of potential issues is much bigger. Still, those that we have mentioned can be diagnosed pretty easy. On the other side, some problems can be solved only by a professional, but those are not so frequent cases. Most of these mentioned tips shouldn’t take much of your time. Moreover, I would highly recommend some of them to become a part of your daily/weekly/monthly driving routine. For example, tire pressure is something that you should check before every drive. Also, check visually for possible leaks under the car. Also, try to check the oil level on every 300 miles. Finally, 3000-mile control should include braking system, coolant level, battery condition, etc. All these checks are very simple, so don’t waste your money on such basic things.