We know how it is: you get busy and forget about the daily things that need to be done like laundry or watering the plants. Sometimes they just make their way down so far on the list of things to do that you don’t even think about it until a crisis occurs. Then you end up kicking yourself for not addressing the problem sooner. Trust us, we’ve been there. And that’s why you should learn from our mistakes and make sure you take care of these common car problems before they turn into issues you absolutely can’t ignore.
Broken or Warning Lights
There are many on the dashboard that alert you to potential problems. That orange check engine light might send you in a panic the first time you see it, but after driving for weeks without any issues, you may be inclined to think it’s just being sensitive. Ignorance is bliss, is it not? Please don’t be that person. It could be something detrimental to the overall workings of the car-OR- something incredibly minor. You won’t know until you bring it to your mechanic—or until your car leaves you stranded at the side of the road. Which do you prefer?
Any broken exterior lights should be addressed immediately. Not only is it a driving hazard, but it’s also a reason to get pulled over by the police. These are often easy fixes you can do yourself with the help of YouTube tutorials or online Chilton Manuals. Free help at your fingertips is worth the Saturday afternoon spent fixing something that could get you a ticket.
Low gas and low oil lights may not seem like they pose imminent dangers, but it’s not a good idea to leave them for too long. Running your car on fumes may feel like an accomplishment of sorts—knowing how far you can take it before refueling—but it’s not good for your car. Running out of gas can damage the fuel pump, leading to an expensive and labor-intensive repair if air sucked into the pump burns it out. And even though that low oil light isn’t keeping your vehicle from being drivable, ignoring it could potentially lead to engine failure. Get the oil changed at regular intervals and maintain the oil at optimum levels for best performance.
When the coolant warning light comes on, don’t think you can just add water to keep the engine cool. It’s possible that your car is telling you about a leak which could destroy the engine if it overheats.
The Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) light comes on if you‘ve got a worn tire or it’s losing air. Check and fill the tire if necessary, and monitor if the light comes on again. If it does, the tire may be suffering a chronic leak which will need to be fixed immediately.
Aside from looking bad, a chipped windshield can weaken the overall structural strength of your vehicle. In newer cars, the windshield is where driver assistant systems like blind spot monitoring and auto braking are maintained, so preserve your car’s integrity by fixing any chips or cracks that can inhibit its peak performance.
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Broken License Plate
If your license plate is broken or unreadable, you’re just asking to get fined by the police. Those plates are identifiers for the vehicle and obscuring them may mean more than laziness on your part. It might be a signal to authorities that you’ve got something to hide. Get those infractions fixed at the DMV or online, depending on the services of your state.
On a cold day, you may dismiss a slow start, but any other day, this is something you’ll want to pay attention to. Slow starts can indicate problems with the battery or possible issues with the starter/alternator. Unfortunately, this can be easy to ignore, especially if it continues to start days after you first notice it. The bad news is the problem has not resolved itself but is just continuing until it completely dies. So now you’re not just late for work. You’re missing either the whole or part of a day to get it towed, a new battery installed, or a starter/alternator replaced. Sucks to be you.
Make this a priority when you first hear them squealing, because really, how can you possibly ignore the only system designed to stop your car? Luckily, there are some warning signs when brakes are bad. As with other instances of procrastination, you’re only making it worse the longer you ignore it. A $200 brake pad/rotor replacement is much better than an entire brake overhaul.
Being an observant and responsible car owner means you’re checking what’s happening inside and out, including any leaks or puddles that occur in your driveway. These can be as innocuous as condensation making its way down from the windows, to something much more sinister. Be vigilant. Check fluid levels and contact your mechanic to perform the necessary inspections.
It might not seem like a big deal, but that little ding can affect resale value, and also lead to rust development over time. Take care of those issues when they first happen so it doesn’t become a problem down the line.
It’s easy to ignore the things that don’t pose an imminent hazard to your daily commute, but we encourage you to make these things a priority. Get these things fixed before they become something much bigger. Life is hard already without car troubles in the way.
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