Even perfectly maintained vehicles need to be repaired occasionally. While some repairs can wait if they're related to cosmetic or luxury features, there are other warning signs you should never ignore.
Check Engine Light
One of the most common signs of a vehicle problem is a flashing or steady light on your dashboard indicating a problem with your car's engine or another component. Take your car in for service as soon as you can if you notice your check engine light has come on.
If the engine light is flashing, the problem is usually more urgent. A flashing check engine light typically indicates that the engine has misfired and has likely caused damage to the catalytic converter. If your engine light remains steadily lit, the problem isn't likely as severe, but you should still have your vehicle inspected at an auto repair establishment.
Continuing to drive a car in need of repair can result in more serious problems that often require more money or time to fix.
Most drivers are familiar with the benign noises their vehicles make when they're starting up or running. New or strange noises can be one of the first indicators that something is going wrong and your car is in need of repair.
If you notice your brakes squealing or grinding, you most likely need to have them repaired or replaced. A knocking or grinding sound in your engine can indicate that you need an oil change or a tune-up, or it can be a sign that you need more extensive engine work. A dragging or squealing noise from your wheels can signal a bad bearing.
Any kind of visible smoke coming from your vehicle means you should take it in for service as soon as you can. Your exhaust shouldn't be belching smoke — while a hazy vapor coming from your exhaust might be noticeable if you're looking for it, if smoke starts coming out while you're driving it could mean you need an oil change or that your engine is in need of repair.
If you see smoking coming from under the hood, your engine is likely overheating. Don't drive any further than necessary to get yourself to safety if your car starts smoking while you're on the road.
Your vehicle needs many fluids to keep it running properly, and any sign of a leak is a good sign that something is in need of repair. Check under your car regularly so you'll spot any leaks promptly.
Fluid pooling under your car could mean an oil, coolant, transmission fluid, or brake fluid leak. All leaks should be repaired promptly to minimize the chance of further damage or safety issues on the road.
If your vehicle shows any signs of needing prompt service, refrain from driving it as much as possible until you have an experienced mechanic diagnose and repair the problem.
For more information, contact an auto repair service in your area.