Car trouble has a way of catching you out at the worst possible moment. Without regular servicing, a host of problems could build up over time and you might not even realise. These handy tips should help you spot the warning signs, avert disaster, and ensure your car won’t fail its MOT.
Warning lights on dashboard
The most obvious sign your car will give you is likely to be those little lights on your dashboard. They’re configured to come on when the system that they’re monitoring isn’t functioning to standard, and to give you an idea that a service is needed before a problem becomes major. Ignore them at your peril!
Unresponsive or over-sensitive brakes
Braking is one area of car design that has come on leaps and bounds in recent years. You should always feel a crisp response when you put your right foot on that brake pedal, so any major resistance, oversensitivity, knocking or strange noises means it’s time for a service. After all, brake pads, rotors and fluids are all items that will wear under the strain of everyday driving.
It could be a subtle movement or unavoidable shudder, but every vibration not caused by road surface is worth looking into. The cause could be something as innocuous as a loose piece of plastic panelling, or it could be something much more serious like over-worn or unbalanced tyres, the failing of a universal joint or loosening of a bearing.
Squeaks and squeals
If a high pitch squeak can be heard when you turn the ignition, then it could indicate that a belt has worn or come loose from its rightful position. If you hear it on the move, then you may need your power steering fluid replacing, or possibly look at getting your tyres rebalanced. Get a service, as otherwise your warranty may not cover you if your car gives up the ghost.
Unexplained stalls can be a serious risk when driving. If the car starts to cut out when pulling off from a junction but you’d found the right gear, then there could be hundreds of potential causes. However, the most common are faulty spark plugs and clogged fuel filters.
If your car coughs and splutters into life after repeatedly turning the key, or if it cuts soon after ignition, then you should get a professional opinion. Again, the range of potential causes is wide, but it could indicate that your battery is dying or your starter motor is defective.
Whether it’s clouds of smoke, leaking coolant or oil, a breach equals bad news. If the smoke is coming from under the bonnet, then you could have a problem with your radiator. Or, if it’s pouring out of the exhaust then it might be to do with oil leakage inside the engine. In any case, leakages are a good indication that things are about to go critical – so, get it checked!
The gearbox is another high-use system that will undoubtedly require maintenance and the replacement of fluids, filters and screens. Fortunately, it’s one of the most vocal of these warnings signs. So, if you hear a grinding when shifting gears, or have trouble changing up as the RPM rate rises, then it’s time to get a service.
Reduction in engine power or MPG
It would start as a subtle change, but if you notice that a tank of petrol isn’t getting you as far as it used to, then you should get it checked out. All engines decrease in efficiency over time, but this should be minimal for the lifespan of an average car, so it may indicate a stuck brake pad or a discrepancy with tyre pressure.
Vehicle owner’s manual
The vehicle owner’s manual is a comprehensive resource that lets you approach problems proactively rather than reactively – especially if your car is purchased new as you can pre-empt maintenance. The manual will also recommend a service at intervals determined by both mileage and time since the car came in to use.
So what’s the best way to avoid these warning signs? Book in for a regular service with your local Perrys dealership. You can also sign up to our Service Plan today and enjoy a full annual service for an easily affordable monthly price.