As much as you may like driving your car around town, it’s true that it relies on you just as much as you enjoy jumping in behind the wheel.
The question for Aussie mums to answer is how familiar are you with your vehicle? How do you know if your car needs to see a mechanic right now, and what can wait until your next scheduled service?
Here are the six signs to consider:
Let’s Start With The Basics
Dashboard Warning Lights: Most of us jump in the car, turn the ignition and zoom to school drop off, Saturday sport or the shops without even glancing down besides maybe to make sure we have enough petrol in the tank.
Routinely taking the time to watch the dashboard lights and signals will help you identify what lights are ‘normal’ and what lights haven’t newly appeared.
When you see a warning light of any kind on the dashboard, consult the owner’s manual first to find out a possible cause and if it’s something you can solve yourself, otherwise you’ll know by the description in the handbook if you need to have your car inspected by a professional mechanic.
TIP: If you have lost the owner’s manual, a quick google search with the make and model of your car can usually find an online pdf version, here is just one example site.
Signs of Transmission Trouble:
The following symptoms related to both manual and automatic transmission cars.
Signs to watch, feel and listen out for:
- Rough shifting between the gears
- Delayed shifting
- Burning smell or if the engine revs up and down before you have touched the pedal
Any sign of transmission trouble should be checked immediately. Please note, these are just some basics and other symptoms can appear. If you’re ever in doubt, it’s always worth having your usual mechanic check it for you.
Smoke or Burning Smells:
Should there be an unusual smoke or burning smell noticeable both inside and outside of your car, you should have this inspected by a professional mechanic immediately. If you’re in Melbourne, Australia for example, you can search for a mechanic here. You can find links to other states and cities there also.
Dark exhaust fumes that are not just condensation on a cooler morning also relates to this point and is another sign that at least a general service is required.
Leaning or Pulling:
Most Australian cars will slightly pull or “drift” to the left if you were to loosen your grip and see where your car starts to drift/pull too. However, if your car is pulling to the right or pulls in any direction that would require you to correct it quickly this is a sign that maybe your tyres need more air, or there’s a bigger mechanical issue that needs the attention of wheels and tyre specialist.
Squealing or Grinding Breaks:
This is one of the more noticeable symptoms your car needs attention. When you push the brakes to slow down and you hear a screeching-squealing sound every time, it’s a sign your brakes need attention. This can be temporary if there is a build-up of dust and can go away. However, recurring noise should be checked.
If you hear a metal on metal grinding noise, this is usually more severe and it’s time to take your car mechanic or have a mechanic come to you.
Vibrating or Shaking:
There are numerous causes when it comes to shakes or vibration coming through the steering wheel or across the car in general.
Vibrations can be caused by worn mounts, old or broken suspension, engine timing belts on older cars amongst other possibilities.
A new car should purr like a kitten, while an older car will have more vibrations naturally. If the vibrations are bigger than what you’d expect or suddenly worse, that’s your sign to book in an inspection.
Four More (Slightly) Advanced Symptoms to Look Out For:
1 – Sulfur:
Any smell of Sulfur might indicate battery issues. Have your car battery checked, or if you know it’s been several years you can consider having the battery replaced or along with your next regular service.
2 – Sweet Smell:
Be able to differentiate the smell from a car perfume and an engine coolant. This gives you the advantage of identifying issues concerning radiator leaks and engine coolant. Be sure to check your coolant levels regularly to prevent engine overheating in unnecessary situations.
3 – Steering Feels Loose:
When you drive your car every day or once a week, you know what your steering feels like to turn when the car is in motion and when the car is stationary.
Any noticeable change to your normal steering could be as simple as you having a flat tyre and it needed to be pumped up or changed. If after walking around your car and finding all the tyres look inflated, drive your car to your local mechanic if it’s safe to do so.
TIP: A screeching sound when turning the steering wheel could be easily fixed by topping up the power steering fluid to the level marked on the container under the bonnet.
4 – Ticking or squealing sounds:
Ticking and squealing sounds are indicators that belts that help run your car engine or different parts of the mechanics need replacing. The rubber belts themselves are not expensive however replacing them will require a mechanic for the average person.
These are just a handful of the most common noises, smells and other symptoms you can feel and encounter when driving your car.
It would be impossible to cover everything about every car available for import and sold in Australia. However, common sense will always need to be a factor. If you need to find a trusted mechanic anywhere in Australia you can search on this website.
If there’s a sudden change with your car or anything looks, feels or seems unsafe to you or to other people using our roads, book your car in for an inspection with a nearby and local mechanic.