Most common problems with cars and how to fix them
There are a range of common issues that can occur with your vehicle. Here, we take a look at the things that are mostly likely to happen to your carâ€”and what to do about them.
While some of these you can resolve yourself, some fixes will need a mechanic. Also, this depends on what kind of car you have, as some are easier to DIY than others. A new car
Why is my indicator clicking fast?
If you're indicating as normal, but the indicator is clicking/ flashing twice as fast, that's the sign that one of your bulbs has blown. This is a risk to your safety, as well as everyone else on the road, so resolve it fast. If you want to DIY, drive to your local car parts supplier and grab a salesperson. They can advise which light is out, and then sell you a replacement.
A mechanic should be able to replace this on the spot, so it's always an option to drive to your nearest garage and see if they can help you out. Some vehicles need you to remove the whole light assembly to replace the bulb, which can make it tricky for the non-technical person.
My car doesn't turn on, at all
If your car isn't even turning on, then your battery might be dead. A battery should last five to six years, around 100,000km, but after that there will be a decrease in performance. Where you might have been able to leave your car a week or two without using it, now it drains in a day or two, and a jumpstart simply doesn't last.
You can buy a new battery and install it yourself, if mechanically minded, or it should be a simple process for your mechanic. There are also other issues that may be affecting the longevity of the battery, so a mechanic will also check things like the alternator to ensure everything is running the way it should be.
My brakes are squealing
Brakes have a limited life span, and they will wear out over time. If they are squealing or squeaking, or maybe your brake pedal has gone soft, get it looked at as soon as possible by a mechanic. If you've just driven through a dusty road or muddy puddle, there may be stones or dirt caught up, but they generally self resolves within a few minutes.
You need effective brakes to be safe on the road. Don't put off this essential repair, and don't attempt to repair it yourself.
The steering wheel is shuddering or shaking
This could be a number of problems. It could be damaged wheel bearings, suspension, or tyre problems. If your tyres are pumped up to the correct PSI, then you need to go to a mechanic. It could be something as simple as rotating the tyres and aligning the wheels or it could be damage to some vehicle components.
Engine lights are on
This is a bit of a no-brainer, especially in more modern cars that diagnose the fault themselves. There are over 200 different warning codes, so a trip to the mechanic should give you a quick diagnosis. Whether you're low on oil or there's something more complex going on, the car should tell you all the answers.
My car is spluttering/ chugging
This could be a few different things, and they aren't all catastrophic. It could be as simple as changing a fuel filter, bad spark plugs/ connections, and a fault distributor cap. A leak in the vacuum system could contribute to rough running too. While this isn't dangerous to drive around town, you could be damaging the engine further, and it could cause problems at high speeds, so get it checked out sooner rather than later.
My headlights are dim
Time to clean those headlights back to bright again- and it's as simple as cleaning your plastic. Over time, plastic breaks down in sunlight, the plastic gets dirty, scratches build up, and it starts to make the headlights look foggy.
First, wash headlights with soapy water to remove all obvious dirt and dust. There's a couple of options; either use an abrasive cleaner or toothpaste to clean the plastic, or you can go for a professional finish. If the scratches are deep, you can use very fine wet sandpaper. You can then use an abrasive compound and use a drill with a headlight cleaning attachment to apply and buff those scratches out quickly.
My fuel mileage is worse than it used to be
There are many ways that your car is getting less mileage to the litre. Some mechanical, some not. Firstly, clean your car, and remove all extra junk from inside. If you've been hauling a bunch of books around, it makes the car heavier and requires more fuel. Then, make sure the tyres are at the correct PSI. Make sure there's been nothing added to the exterior of the car to stop aerodynamics, such as a roof rack.
If that is all fine, it's time for a trip to the mechanic. They may recommend replacing the air filter, spark plugs, or any number of any other small changes and repairs.
Some basic car maintenance goes a long way
Spending some time and money on your car now may go a long way to saving money in future. Addressing basic car needs now means the repairs are likely to be far less catastrophic than if you ignore that weird clunking sound and hope it goes away. So keep your tyres at the correct PSI and get them rotated, make sure the oil and water levels are correct, and while you're at it, ensure your car insurance is up to date. You can get an online quote here.