with your vehicle can be frustrating, expensive and even mysterious,
particularly if you have little automotive experience. However, there are some
auto problems that can be diagnosed and remedied relatively easily if you know
where to look and how to examine the working parts of your car. Below, we'll
walk you through the five easiest issues to troubleshoot on your vehicle.
- Without a good battery, your vehicle is dead in the water. How do you tell
if your battery is dead? Generally, if you try to crank your car and it
makes a clicking sound instead of starting up, you have a dead battery. This
issue can be caused by leaving headlights or interior lights on overnight.
Interior corrosion or long periods without use can also lead to battery
failure. Regardless of the cause, batteries can be replaced easily, but make
sure you have a mechanic check the charging system to ensure that the
problem was only the battery and it's not an issue with your alternator.
- Most vehicles have some sort of temperature gauge on the dash to help you
monitor the engine coolant temperature. Your vehicle should hover somewhere
in the middle of that gauge during normal operations. (On cold winter days,
it may take several minutes for your vehicle to reach the optimal
temperature). However, there may come a time when you notice the needle
climbing higher. If your vehicle is overheating, stop the vehicle, turn it
off and let it cool down. Once the engine has cooled, check the radiator or
radiator reservoir. Chances are good you're low on coolant. Fill it up and
then take it to your mechanic to have it fully inspected. Leaking hoses and
pinhole leaks in the radiator itself can cause low coolant - these are
relatively easy fixes.
- You attempt to put your car in "drive," but it doesn't budge.
First of all, don't panic - chances are good that this has nothing to do
with your transmission. The most likely cause is a failed brake light
switch. Many modern vehicles are designed so that they will not move if the
brake light switch has failed (it's responsible for lighting up your brake
lights when you depress the brake pedal). This is an easy repair for a
mechanic, though you'll have to have your car towed to the shop in most
cases. While it's frustrating, realize that this issue is simply a safety
precaution that has been intentionally installed on your vehicle.
- Most vehicles no longer come with a cigarette lighter. Instead, they
have power outlets. Drivers use these to charge cell phones, to power
portable DVD players, to power up their GPS units and more. If your charger
doesn't seem to be operating, the problem is most likely with the power
outlet. There are two common causes for outlet problems - obstructions in
the outlet itself (coins, paper, etc.) and a blown fuse. Visually inspect
the outlet for obstructions and if you see none, remove the driver-side fuse
box cover and check to see if the fuse is blown.
- It may be alarming to see your check engine light come on while driving
down the road. Your first instinct may be to pull over immediately and turn
off the car, but that is not necessarily the right action. First, take a
second to look, listen and feel what's going on. Do you hear anything out of
the ordinary? Do you see anything (steam/smoke/fluid)? Does the car feel
like it's driving any differently? If you don't notice anything out of the
ordinary, it's best to drive on to your mechanic so he or she can diagnose
the problem. If you do notice anything out of the ordinary, pull over, turn
off the car and call a tow truck.
knowing a few basic automobile hang-ups can keep you on the road and out of the
mechanic's garage. Sometimes your vehicle just needs a simple fix. Most of all,
it's important to pay attention to how your car is operating and responding. If
anything ever seems suspicious or potentially dangerous, take your car to your
local mechanic to get it professionally inspected.
Elfrink is the owner and operator of AutoMatStore,
an auto floor mat company based out of Columbia, Missouri. Before
AutoMatStore.com, Elfrink was the operator of a company that produced automotive
accessories. AutoMatStore.com focuses on all-weather, logo, carpeted and molded car