You know the feeling of panic that hits when smoke comes out of the hood of your car or something hard hits your windshield? Just like when you’re dating, there are red flags when it comes to driving. Sometimes you can work through ‘em, but sometimes you’ve gotta cut ties right away. Or, in your car’s case, get it fixed…fast. So we teamed up with Safelite® to break down the signs that mean it’s time to get your car to the shop ASAP.
Your car is stalling
Have you ever been at a stoplight and your car takes a little longer to rev up (or doesn’t rev up at all) when you hit the gas? That’s…not great. It could mean any number of things from a faulty fuel pump to an ignition issue. All things you don’t want your car to be dealing with while you’re driving it. This isn’t the time to take a “let’s wait and see” approach. If you feel your car’s taking a long time to get going no matter how hard you put the pedal to the metal, pull over and call for backup.
There’s smoke coming out of the tailpipe
Your car might be dunzo (Laguna fans, that one’s for you). If you notice smoke, there’s almost definitely something wrong. But it can mean a few different things.
If the smoke is blue or gray, oil may have leaked into your engine’s combustion chamber (where the fuel/air mixture is ignited). If the smoke is black, your engine is likely burning too much fuel or your air filter is dirty. Thick white smoke could mean a damaged head gasket (which prevents engine fluid leaks), a cracked engine block (hint: what holds all the components that make up the bottom of the motor), or a small coolant leak, which can lead to overheating.
Pro tip: Check the lights on your dashboard to see if the engine or oil light is on. It could help you narrow down what the problem is.
Your windshield is chipped or cracked
This might not feel like an urgent matter, but anything from flying debris to a sudden change in temp can cause windshield damage. The crack might start out small, but it’s important to get it repaired before it grows. Because repairing the minor chip or crack is less $$$ than replacing the entire windshield.
Our friends at Safelite make vehicle windshield replacements and repairs a breeze. And they work with most major insurance companies too, so you can pay on your own or use your insurance. Snag an appointment in minutes online at one of their many convenient locations. In some cases, the technician can even come to you.
Btw, if you drive a newer model and replace your windshield, you’ll most likely need your advanced safety system recalibrated too. Because your car’s forward-facing camera is attached to the windshield, it will be moved during the windshield installation. The great news: The experts at Safelite will recalibrate the advanced safety system to manufacturer standards so features like emergency braking and collision warning continue to work properly.
You hear a knocking sound in your engine
If it sounds like there’s a pool ball rolling around in your engine, definitely don’t ignore it. Because that could cause your engine to blow. Scary, we know. That knocking sound might mean your spark plugs (aka what ignites the fuel-air mixture that gets your car going) aren’t working properly, or there isn’t enough octane in the fuel-air mixture, among other things. And these are all problems you'll need a professional mechanic to solve.
Your brakes feel spongy
Yes, this is a thing. When you hit your brakes, there should be solid pressure the whole time you’re pushing down. If at any point it feels “soft” or “squishy” when you push down, it could be a sign that your car’s master brake cylinder is failing. Ignoring that could cause your brake pads to wear down faster than they should, impact braking performance, and even lead to brake failure. So, yeah, it’s pretty serious.
Your headlights aren’t working properly
Uh-oh. While this might not feel like an emergency on a sunny day, it’s a definite no-go for nighttime driving. The likely culprit? A blown fuse. If this is a once-in-a-blue-moon occurrence, take your car to the shop to get that fuse replaced. But if this happens a few times, you might wanna get your whole electrical system checked by a mechanic.
Car trouble is the worst. But once you learn to recognize the signs of a potentially serious issue, you can handle ‘em like a boss — sans the stress and worry. And focus on getting where you need to go.
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