Top 10 Common Car Problems
There are the top 10 common car problems that many people face day to day with their vehicles. Knowing how to prevent, and even fix these problems will allow you to have a safer drive. Some of the more common car problems that can occur, and people will notice while driving are a flat tire, dead battery, blown fuses, leaks, burned out headlight, cracks in the windshield, bad brakes or shocks, a faulty heat or air conditioning system, and power steering failure which can be extremely dangerous if it goes out while driving. It is important for someone to keep up on their general car maintenance to ensure that their vehicle is in the best shape that it can be in. Driving in a car that has not had general maintenance done in a long time can prove to be extremely dangerous. One example of this is when the vehicle has very low tires, the pressure is low, and the tires are old. While driving down the street, there is a bump in the road, not a large one, just a small bump. It irritates the tire, the tire pops, and your vehicle is swerving back and forth through lanes and you cannot control it because the tire has blown. You're putting your life, the lives of the people in your car, and the lives of the other people on the road in danger because you failed to check or change your worn out tires. Also, general vehicle maintenance is great if you want to keep your vehicle in the best shape and have it last for a long time. Without this type of maintenance the body and engine of the vehicle is going to wear out just like anything will without the proper maintenance.
1. Flat Tire
If a flat tire occurs, safely move to the side of the road and put your four ways on to show other vehicles on the road where you are. Put the vehicle in park, and put the hand brake on to ensure that the vehicle does not roll. Get a spare tire, jack, leverage pipe, and lug nut wrench out of the trunk. If it is dark out, you may also want to grab a flashlight. Place a large rock or log in back of the other tires on the vehicle to prevent it from rolling. Remove the hubcap if needed using a screwdriver, sometimes a hubcap does not need to be removed to get access to the lug nuts on the tire. Loosen the lug nuts using the wrench, but do not remove them. Turn counterclockwise to loosen the bolts. Once the nuts are loose, use the jack to get the car up. The jack should be vertical and firmly planted on the ground, preferably a hard surface. Remove the lug nuts from the tire, and make sure to put them in a safe place such as your pocket. Remove the flat tire, and place it in your trunk. Place the spare tire on, make sure the pressure valve is sticking out. Turn clockwise to tighten the nuts, and make sure to put them on using a star or crisscross pattern. This is to ensure the wheel is placed on straight. Lower the vehicle by using the jack, and remove the jack from under the car. Tighten the lug nuts once again. Place the hub cap back on the wheel if necessary.
Preventing a flat tire can save you a lot of time if your tires are worn out and just might pop while driving. Not only that, but they can also make sure that you're safe at the same time. Make sure to check the tire pressure at least once a month to ensure that it is up to where it should be. You should not only check all the tires on your vehicle, but also your spare tire as well. If there is minimal tread on your tire, you should think about purchasing new tires. Old tires have more of a chance of going flat while driving. Try to avoid large cracks, divots, or anything that is in the road that might puncture your tire while driving.
2. Dead Battery
If you find that your vehicle will not start because you have a dead battery, it may be caused by leaving something on, or perhaps your battery was just old and needed to be replaced. You will need to find a friend or someone that will be able to give you a jump in order to get home. You will also need to find some jumper cables. If you can, call someone that has jumper cables so they can give you a jump. The cables should not have fraying on them, because this could become dangerous. Make sure to get the hoods of the cars close together in order to reach the cables from one car to another. Do not let the vehicles touch however, because this could be a bad situation. Turn everything off in the vehicles including the radio, the lights, the signals, vents, etc. Of course, if it is really dark out and you need the headlights this is OK, just make sure everything else is shut off. You will first have to open the clamps, attach the red one to the positive terminal on the good car, it could have a + sign or be marked with red. Attach the other red cable to the positive terminal of the other vehicle's battery, attach the black cable to the negative terminal of the good car's battery which can also be black or marked with a – sign. Attach the other black cable to a metal part of your vehicle, as far away as possible from the bad battery. This is the ground. Start the vehicles, and you should be good to go.
To prevent batteries from going bad, you should always make sure everything in your vehicle is shut off when you get out of it. This also means that the doors are completely shut when leaving the vehicle. A lot of times the overhead light inside the vehicle will stay on if you do not completely shut the vehicle's doors. You might also want to replace your battery every few years or so. This is to ensure the battery is in great shape so this does not happen. A car battery can become old, and might need to be replaced such as normal batteries, but just not as much.
There are 2 ways to check for a blown fuse. The first one is simple, you just remove the fuse in question and inspect it with your eyes. You should have an owner's manual that lets you know which fuse goes to which function within the vehicle. There might also be a diagram on the inside of the fuse panel. It will look blown, much like a light bulb. You can also use a test light to check all of the fuses at once. Once you find the broken fuse, you can then use a fuse puller or a pair of pliers to remove the fuse, and place a new one in it's place. You should then have no problem using the area in question.
To prevent fuses from being blown, it is recommended that you do not overload the fuse board. Try to use things that have as much power or less than the fuse has. It will blow if you have too much power going to the fuse. They are not equipped to handle a lot of power.
Finding a way to check what type of fluid is leaking might not be so hard to do if you know what types of fluids to look for. You should place an old light colored sheet or a white piece of paper under your vehicle so you can determine the color of the fluid. If it is bright green and slippery to the touch it is radiator coolant. Dark or light brown indicates engine oil, the dark means it has not been changed in a while, and light means it was recently changed. Bright blue, orange, pink, or yellow means windshield washer fluid. Light brown with a strong odor of rotten eggs is gear lube coming from the manual transmission. Red is automatic transmission fluid or power steering fluid but make sure to check where the fluid is coming from since it could also be long life fluid. If it is clear then it could be water coming from the A/C unit or power steering fluid. Light yellow is brake fluid, and amber colored is gasoline and it will have a strong gasoline smell. Make sure to notice where the leak is coming from as well. This could be a giveaway of what it is.
Always make sure to have your fluids changed. You should have them changed every 3,500 miles or each year. You want to maintain good upkeep on your vehicle so these leaks do not happen. Of course, diagnosing them early on will help you prevent anything further from going wrong within the vehicle.
5. Burned out Headlight
Burned out headlights happen all the time, but you could end up getting a ticket if you drive around like this. Determine which headlight, if not both, are burned out. You will be able to check in your vehicle manual on which type of light you will need to purchase to fix it. Depending on the vehicle, you might just need to get a halogen bulb or you might need to replace the entire headlight. You will want to twist the black plastic ring in the back of the light bulb to release it from the headlight. Pull the bulb out, and unplug it from the vehicle. Remove the new bulb from the packaging without touching the glass part, and place it into the headlight. Twist it into the plastic ring and secure it. Test it to make sure it is in right. To replace the entire head light, you will need to unscrew the screws around the metal frame. Do not unscrew the ones that have springs behind them. You might just need to take out one or two screws to replace the headlight. Pull out and unplug the headlight, plug in the new headlight in its place. Test the new headlight, and then screw the metal frame back onto the headlight.
Always check your lights every month to ensure that all of them work. You want to make sure that all lights, and not just your headlights are working. This means fog lights, parking lights, four ways, break lights, and signal lights. You should make sure they all work for your safety, as well as others on the road.
6. Crack in the Windshield
Having a crack in the windshield could mean a ticket if a police officer finds you on the street. You will want to assess the crack to find out if you're going to need to replace the entire windshield, or perhaps you can go with just fixing the crack itself. You will have to have the windshield replaced if the crack has been there for 30 days or more, longer than 12 inches, or is wider than 1/8 of an inch. A glass repair shop is going to be needed for the repair of the windshield. Sometimes insurance companies will cover the costs of the windshield repair.
Do not park your vehicle under a tree that has hard nuts or other extras that might fall and break your windshield. If there are kids around your neighborhood, you might want to park the vehicle in your garage or carport to prevent balls or other items to fall on the windshield. Make sure to clear the top of your vehicle of snow and debris before driving off so you do not break anyone's windshield while driving.
7. Bad Shocks
If you find that your vehicle is shaking, sagging, leaking, rattling, or perhaps it breaks then you might want to look further into the shocks. This is what holds your vehicle up and helps you not feel so much turbulence while riding over a bumpy road. You might want to have an auto mechanic look at it since they will have larger lifts for the vehicles in order to remove and replace the shocks, although you can do this at home if you're more mechanically inclined. Having the necessary tools for the procedure is essential, and knowing what you're doing is also important since doing something wrong on the vehicle could mean risking yours and others lives.
You will want to always listen and feel your vehicle for any changes. Once you notice a change in the way that it drives, you should have it checked out. Of course, routine yearly maintenance of your vehicle will allow you to have a better idea of what kind of shape your shocks are in as well. Knowing your vehicle, and how it drives is essential to noticing a problem with it.
8. Bad Brakes
Look up what type of brakes you will need for your vehicle, and purchase them. You will want to cool the vehicle down before trying to replace the brakes. Let it sit after driving it for awhile. Use a lug wrench to loosen the lug nuts up around two thirds of the way loose. Use a jack to put the car up to safe height that allows you to work underneath it. Remove the wheels for the brakes you're replacing by removing all of lug nuts. Remove the bolts from the caliper. Check the pressure of the caliper, and it should move a bit when you shake it. Use a piece of tie wire to hang up in the wheel well so the brake line does not break when removing the caliper. You want to check your brake fluid before continuing to ensure that there is enough. Remove the brake pads from underneath the tire, and make sure to pay attention to how you remove them so you can put the new ones on in the same manner. Place the new pads in place and use the lubricant that came with the pads sparingly to where they touch to the vehicle. Replace the caliper back into position on the vehicle. Put the wheel back onto the vehicle over the caliper and make sure the lug nuts are tightened. Start the vehicle and pump the brakes around 20 times to ensure that they are properly set in. Drive around a bit after installing them going no more than 10 mph. Listen for any abnormalities.
Always listen and feel for differences in the way your brakes react. You want to make sure you notice any differences beforehand. You should also make sure to get your brakes checked every year during the annual maintenance check up of your vehicle.
9. Faulty Heat/Air Conditioning
If you need hot or cold air throughout the year then you should look into the many problems that come about if you have neither. You have to take note and observe why you have neither. Perhaps it is blowing just cold air when you want heat, or maybe it is not blowing at all. These can be fixes that either a mechanic or yourself can do. If there is no heat coming out than it is most likely the blower motor. You want to locate the blower motor and check the outside of it close to the motor for a small plate that is held on by screws. There should be an electrical connector that is plugged into this using around six wires. Check the resistor before placing it in the vehicle. Check all of the speeds of the heat and air conditioning. Check the fuses for the fan speeds first and foremost to make sure this is not your problem. It is likely the blower motor if the fuses are all still good. You will want to locate the heater core if your vehicle is not putting out hot air. Remove the heater core without tipping it since this might leak fluid by unhooking the tubes connected to it. Reconnect the hoses to the new heater core and secure it into place.
Before it becomes hot or cold out make sure to check these things. Being prepared beforehand will provide you with the knowledge to know if something will need to be replaced. Having an annual maintenance check up will also give you an idea of how everything is being put into place on the vehicle, and if anything will need to be replaced in the near future.
10. Power Steering Failure
If you find yourself without power steering then you might be in trouble. Stay calm under the circumstances, and try to pull over to the side of the road. You might have to use force when steering the wheel since it is you controlling the vehicle now. You might also have to press down on the brake hard to have the vehicle stop if there are power brakes. You can then call for a tow truck and someone to come help. This is one way that you're not going to be able to control or steer the car to the place that you're going. You will want to contact a mechanic, or someone that is mechanically inclined to fix this problem since it is a detailed operation, special tools are needed, and if anything goes wrong with it; it could mean bad things for the driver.
To prevent power steering from going, you will want to make sure to keep up on maintenance of your vehicle. Normally there are not beginning signs of this, and it normally happens all at once. The best prevention for this is to know how to take care of the problem ahead of time, even if it never happens to you.
- Blown Fuses
- How to Detect and Replace a Blown Fuse
- Information About Car Windshields
- The Science of Windshield Cracks
- Cracked Windshield
- Symptoms of Bad Struts in Cars
- Suspension and Shocks
- Warning Signs You Need New Brakes
- Car Brakes: Do You Know When to Change Them?
- Air Conditioning Troubleshooting and Repair
- Heating and Air Conditioning
- Heating and Air Conditioning
- Troubleshooting Power Steering Problems
Written By: Edson Farnell | Email |
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