Monday, March 10, 2014

5 signs there might be something wrong with your car

You don't always need to visit the workshop to find out if there is something wrong with your car. Just pay attention to the signs.

The cars of today aren’t the unreliable, poorly built, rust buckets their ancestors were. In terms of reliability, service life and safety standards, the cars of today are light years ahead of the humdrum econoboxes they were derived from. But because of these reasons, many believe that spotting problems with modern cars is something best left to the professionals.

Though this is true when it comes to engine and gearbox performance, other issues don’t require a degree in Mechanical Engineering to figure out something is wrong. Here are five signs that there is something's gone wrong:

Sign 1: Difficulty in turning the steering wheel

Has it become increasing difficult to turn the steering wheel? There could be a number of reasons why this happens. The first could be due to having under inflated tyres. Pump them to recommended levels and you should notice a difference.

If your tyres aren’t the problem than it might be more serious than initially expected. It could be that there isn’t enough power steering fluid (this only applies for hydraulic power steering systems) in the system or that there might be a leak somewhere. If it just requires topping up, take a crack at it but if you aren't confident, take your vehicle to the mechanic.

Sign 2: Difficulty in starting the engine

If it feels as though your engine is struggling to turn over, you might have a weak battery. Neglecting to get it checked can result in a fully flat battery, meaning your stranded.How long it takes the engine to turn over depends on how much of charge is left in the battery. If you hear the usual cranking noise but the engine doesn’t want to fire up, the problem could be due to a failed fuel pump.

Sign 3: Blue smoke from the exhaust

Occasionally, once you've started up the engine, get someone to sit in the driver’s seat and rev it a few times while you watch the exhaust tip for smoke. If you see faint blue smoke coming out, that’s bad news. This is a clear indication that your engine is burning engine oil.

Engine oil is used to lubricate moving parts within the engine such as the pistons. It is never used in the combustion process. Its only when it manages to seep through the sidewalls of the pistons does it come into contact with the air fuel mixture and burns along with it. That’s why you see blue smoke. Mending it is going to be expensive but needs to be done.

Sign 4: braking power has decreased

There could be a number of reasons but there are two that you most know about. The first, it could be due to worn brake pads. Over time, through continuous use, brake pads loose their thickness. The more worn they become, the further the brake pedal needs to travel towards the floor. The second reason could be due to a leak in the hydraulic brake system. In either case, it’s a serious matter that needs to be tended to immediately.

Sign 5: headlights aren’t as bright as they used to be

The simplest explanation for this is that your headlights need polishing. If that’s not it, then it’s a more serious problem. It could be that your alternator has failed and your vehicle’s electrical systems are relying on the battery to keep them alive. Because the alternator isn’t working, the battery isn’t being recharged. The more you drive the car, the weaker the battery becomes till eventually everything dies on you.