Servicing your car is a thrill for some people and a nightmare for others. Going to the dentist and the garage can have the same provocative dread that keeps you from going until you absolutely have to. There are a couple of ways to look at the term “servicing your car.” Some people hear the term and think only of oil changes, fluid level checks, and tire pressure readings. At the same time, there are others who would say that everything from rebuilding the engine to painting the exterior is a type of service. Wherever your understanding of what constitutes a “service” falls, there are some signs and symptoms that must be acknowledged for the seriousness they represent.
Instrument Panel Indicators
Fortunately, in today’s technological era there are built-in warning systems that provide a platform for your success. Newer model vehicles have computer systems that integrate with the mechanical components of your vehicle with such precision and pervasive monitoring that the computers can even tell you when a tire is getting low on air pressure. With sensors built into major systems of the engine to include exhaust particle counts, cylinder misfire auditing, power conversion formulas and fuel usage the car industry has created vehicles that are nearly able to diagnose themselves.
While computers are great tools for mechanics to utilize, they do not replace troubleshooting. They can identify a misfiring cylinder, but they cannot tell you if it is the injector, a compromised fuel line, or a cracked injector cup. The data provided by a computer does help to narrow down the real culprit and saving the vehicle owner the costs of an expensive troubleshooting session. When your car sets off a warning light in the instrument panel, you are benefited by having it checked out.
Don’t Break the Bank
Not all cars are new, and not all cars are equipped with computers that monitor the systems. If you find yourself in a vehicle that does not sound off alarms when something is wrong, you may have to spend a little time researching your vehicle. Vehicle models have statistical reports that reveal the most common problems with their particular design. Get to know your vehicle and the typical problems that they are known for in a mechanical sense. The historical records can identify the types of problems and the costs associated with repairing them. The data can also be useful as a tool for knowing when to cash your car in against the cost of repairs and seek a different model. Always consult a competent and qualified mechanic for advice on this issue.
Signs and Symptoms
Believe it or not, your car talks to you. Performing your own maintenance can be challenging and rewarding. If you do have an opportunity to look your car over there are a few key indicators of serious problems to open your eyes and ears to. First, while your car is running in good condition listen to the engine as it runs. Learn what its normal sound is when it is running smooth so you can identify the noises that shouldn’t be there.
When you service your automobile or check your vehicle’s fluids be very observant. Never check your radiator fluids while the engine is hot or running and never rely on your overflow tank fluid level to always tell you if the coolant is filled. Take off the radiator cap and look at both the anti-freeze and the radiator cap. Try to identify any foreign elements like oil or debris that should not be there. When oil gets into the coolant, it will look like gray foam until it settles. Any oil is a big problem and should be checked further by a qualified professional. Conversely, if you identify any coolant in the oil when you remove the dipstick treat the problem as seriously as oil in the radiator. Mixing fluids is a severe issue.
There are innumerable problems to identify on a car and even more symptoms. One symptom can be indicative of any number of problems and can be very confusing. It is not easy to troubleshoot, even if you are a trained professional. When you listen to your car you can keep little problems from becoming huge problems. Tune into the historical truths about your car and know what to look for. Talk to a mechanic who specializes in your make and model. Foreign makes and models are as challenging as learning a foreign language and must be taken to someone who speaks their language. In the meantime, getting to know your car means learning to speak its language.
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The author, Ray Donato, has spent many years elbow deep in engines and cars and shares his insights on these essential vehicles through his writing. However, he can’t handle everything, and for those matters he can’t handle he turns to creechimport.com. You can learn more about Ray on Google+.