The 7 Most Common Car Repair Problems You Need to Be Aware Of
Every year, around 6 million cars are sold in the United States — and nearly everyone owns a vehicle for personal use. However, regardless of how well we take care of our cars, it’s inevitable that they will need repairs eventually. While some common car repair problems can be caused by wear and tear, others can be caused by accidents and other external factors, such as a cracked windshield.
If your car isn’t running as it should or if there is an obvious problem that needs to be repaired, don’t hesitate to talk to a mechanic. Most common car repair problems can be handled easily, but if left unrepaired, they can go on to create additional problems and potentially more expensive repair bills. To help mitigate this risk, here are some of the most frequently encountered problems to be on the lookout for.
1. Failing Brakes
Your brakes are one of the most important parts of your car. However, they won’t last forever, which is why they find themselves as one of the most common car repair problems. Eventually, they will need to be replaced, though the frequency of this will depend on how often you use them.
Typically, those driving in urban conditions will require more frequent repairs due to the constant stop and go of traffic. Consider how often you use your brakes while driving. Driving fast and then braking will create a lot of friction that can wear down brake pads faster. The same can be said for riding your brakes while going downhill.
To help get the most life out of your brakes, consider removing any unnecessary weight from your car. This will ensure that your brakes don’t have to work harder to stop your vehicle. Similarly, when approaching a stop, remove your foot from the accelerator to slow your car before braking. Known as “engine braking,” removing your foot disengages the engine and helps lessen the work that your brakes have to do.
Even with brake-conscious driving, you’ll likely need auto brake repair at some point. When this happens, there are a few key things to look for. If you start hearing a squealing or grinding sound while stopping or feel a scraping or vibration, it could be a sign that your brakes are worn down. Likewise, if you have to press harder on the brake to come to a full stop, it’s time to see your local mechanic.
If left unrepaired, you could risk damaging your rotors or overheating your brake system causing failure. Both issues are dangerous and will end up costing much more than the price of new brake pads. So it’s best to get your brakes replaced at the first sign of trouble than to wait and risk more significant damage.
2. Flat Tires
Most everyone has had or will have a flat tire at some point, making this another one of the most common car repair problems. Whether you drive over a sharp object or hit a pothole too hard, tire repairs are a common problem facing drivers. While there isn’t any sure-fire way to prevent against a flat entirely, it’s important to check your tires frequently and pay attention to any tire pressure warning lights in your car.
If you have a flat tire, don’t try to drive the vehicle unless you have installed a spare. Driving on a flat can cause poor vehicle control, as well as damage to your rims and other important components. Your rotors, brake lines, and suspension components can all be put at risk of damage if you drive on a flat. If you’re not sure how to change your own tire or if you’re unable to put the spare on yourself, consider investing in a roadside service that can take care of this problem wherever you are. Some insurance companies include this service with their policies. However, if yours doesn’t, it’s worth investing in extra coverage just for peace of mind.
While you can’t predict what will happen while out on the road, you can control the likelihood of getting a flat while parked at your home. Make sure to sweep and clean your parking space frequently, as well as repairing any potholes that you may have on your property. For instance, if your driveway is old and contains many potholes and cracks, consider asphalt driveway paving to ensure that your car has a safe smooth place to park.
3. Faulty Fuel Injectors
A failing injector is another one of the most common car repair problems and it’s also one of the easiest to overlook. While a flat tire or brake problems may be more evident, signs of a failing fuel injector can be as subtle as starting issues, poor idling, and increased fuel consumption. For this reason, it is important to always take note of issues, no matter how minor they may seem, and to look for subtle changes when driving. For instance, if you’ve noticed that you’re having trouble starting your car, instead of writing it off, speak with your local mechanic to ensure there isn’t a more serious underlying problem.
If failing fuel injectors are left alone for too long, you could be putting your vehicle at risk for catastrophic engine failure — which will cost much more to repair overall. Leaking is another problem to be on the lookout for. A leaking injector can usually be easily repaired. But if the leak is external, due to a cracked body, it is a fire hazard and usually cannot be fixed. If this is the case, then a full replacement will be necessary.
4. Bumper Pull Problems
One of the most common car repair problems found among those who haul heavy loads, this issue stems from the damage caused by hauling more than your car can handle. For this reason, it’s important to know your vehicle’s limits, as well as how to properly and safely haul heavy loads. The most common type of hitch that people use is the bumper pull. This type of ball hitch is what the trailer’s tongue fits over to connect the trailer to the vehicle. While this method is used frequently, hauling a load heavier than what your vehicle can pull, or hauling a load with uneven weight distribution, can cause damage to your vehicle.
Similarly, if the trailer is pitched too far up or down, you can put additional stress on your axles, tires, and brakes. This can cause additional wear that could otherwise have been avoided and it may cause you to need repairs sooner than you otherwise would. Using the wrong sized ball can also cause damage, especially if the trailer your hauling slips off during transport. If this happens the trailer could begin swaying and potentially flip over. If the security chains aren’t attached it may even disconnect and cause damage to other drivers.
Before hauling any large loads, make sure you know what your car can handle, as well as how to connect everything as securely as possible. It’s always better to cover all of your bases before a visit to a bumper repair expert becomes the least of your problems.
5. Dead Batteries
Possibly one of the most common car repair problems, a dead battery is something many drivers experience at some point. There are many things that can cause a battery to die. Running the car for too long, corrosion, and old age are some of the most common reasons why batteries fail. When this happens, you won’t be able to start your car and will need either a jumpstart or get a new battery before you’re able to drive again. This is one instance where a roadside assistance membership comes in handy, as they will be able to offer jump start services wherever you are. This is helpful, especially if you find yourself with a dead battery far from home.
Signs that your battery is dying can include dimming lights and electrical issues, a slow engine start, or visible corrosion to the batteries connectors. If corrosion is the culprit behind your problems, you can use a small amount of Coca Cola poured over the corroded areas to remove the build-up. This can be a temporary “fix” until you can drive to your local repair shop. Your local mechanic will be able to properly diagnose what exactly is wrong, as well as install a new battery in place of the old or damaged one. However, new batteries can also be purchased from an auto parts store and installed yourself if you know enough about the process to safely replace it.
6. Cracked Windshields
Another of the most common car repair problems is cracked windshields. This can happen when something impacts the glass either when you’re driving or when it’s parked. Even the smallest shards of debris, if kicked up hard enough, can cause cracking. While some cracks can be filled and repaired easily, others may warrant the entire replacement of your windshield.
If you have a small crack, it’s important to get it looked at as soon as possible. If left alone, it can continue to grow bigger and create more significant problems. If caught soon enough, you may be able to forgo a full replacement. But if the crack is too large or if it compromises the structural integrity of the glass, you shouldn’t drive with it until it’s replaced. This is especially important if the vinyl resin — the center safety layer responsible for holding the glass together during an impact — has been breached. If this layer is compromised and you get into an accident, your windshield will less likely to protect you. In this case, full glass replacement will be necessary to ensure your car is safe to drive.
While there is no guaranteed way to prevent cracks, there are a few things you can to mitigate your risks. Be sure to leave ample space between you and cars in front of you while driving. This can help prevent gravel or other debris from hitting your car if it’s kicked up by the leading car. If you’re worried about something hitting your car while it’s parked, try to keep it close to your home or in your garage to mitigate damage from impacts.
7. Lighting Problems
By far one of the most common car repair problems that all motorists face at one point or another are issues with headlamps and directional signals. It can sometimes be difficult to known when one of your bulbs has burnt out unless either another driver, your mechanic, or a police officer points it out. This can create safety issues is your brake lights, headlights, or turn signals aren’t working the way you think they are. While most times this repair involves replacing the bulb, sometimes wiring issues or corrosion can exist creating additional problems.
To mitigate the risk of creating dangerous situations, take time to check all of your light periodically to ensure they are all working as they should. In most cases, mechanics will handle this during your regular oil changes, However, you should still keep an eye out between visits.
If you’re changing your bulbs yourself, look out for any warning signs of corrosion or wire damage. If you think anything is wrong, contact your local mechanic and have them properly diagnose the problem. Even if you’re able to get the bulb working, if there are additional problems, you may risk another burn out if the underlying issues aren’t fixed. You should never attempt to repair any wiring problems yourself unless you absolutely know what you’re doing. In the case of electrical problems, it’s best to leave it to the professionals at the automotive repair shops.
Staying Safe on the Road
While many of the most common car repair problems are unavoidable, you can help yourself stay safe by being aware of your vehicle and noting any changes in how it’s performing or behaving. For instance, if your brakes have started making sounds or if your car is having a harder time starting, don’t wait for more serious signs to occur. Stop by your local auto shop and get your vehicle looked over. The best case scenario is that there’s nothing wrong. This peace of mind is worth more than the anxiety of wondering “what if?”
While we all hope that our vehicles last as long as possible, keeping in mind the most common car repair problems can help prolong your car’s life by alerting you to minor problems before they grow into bigger issues. When it comes to getting the most out of your car, be sure to address these problems as they come, and never hesitate to ask a professional for help.