Have you ever had one of those mornings when you saunter out of the house, travel mug in hand, whistling a tune as you hop into your car...only to pound your head on the steering wheel minutes later as you crank and crank and crank the key because your engine won’t start? Or have you ever left work late or been traveling somewhere miles from home, maybe even in the dark or rain, and had your car simply break down on the side of the road? Both of these events are frustrating, upsetting, and sometimes even scary. Do you sit in your car waiting for the tow truck or a helpful friend to rescue you, wondering what you might have done wrong? Were there any steps that you could have taken to try to avoid at least some of the most common car problems?
Well, we’re glad you asked!
Some of the most common car problems can leave you stranded out on the road, but there are things you can do to prevent them (or at least somewhat minimize the frustration when problems do occur).
Your Car Won’t Start: If you turn the key and the engine doesn’t start, it’s usually because your starter has failed or your battery is dead. (It could be that you’re out of gas, but this is an easy fix as long as you have a friend who owns a gas can.) This solution might seem obvious, but it’s smart to have your battery and the components of your starter checked periodically by a trusted auto mechanic. Car batteries are meant to last between three and five years, so when you buy a new battery, make a note of when you purchased it so you can plan to buy a new one before the current one wears out.
Your Car Has an Oil Leak: Have you begun to notice dark stains on your driveway or other places you park frequently? If your car has an oil leak, your oil filter might need to be changed or you might have a missing or misaligned oil plug. Ignoring a small oil leak now can lead to serious engine problems down the road. This is usually an easy problem to avoid: check your oil once a month when you fill your gas tank, and have your oil changed and oil filter checked/changed by your mechanic on a regular schedule.
You Have a Radiator Leak: Is your car leaving a trail of coolant in its wake? Has your AC started to act up? You might have a leaky radiator. Issues with your radiator can lead to serious overheating problems that can, at best, leave you stranded somewhere and, at worst, cause catastrophic engine failure. Make sure to have your mechanic check all the connectors and components of your cooling system, and have the fluids checked periodically.
Your Car Has a Low or Flat Tire: You can’t always avoid accidentally driving over a sharp object or hitting a bad pothole, both of which can easily cause a blowout. But tires can also develop slow leaks or lose air pressure over time, especially if you drive a lot over rough roads. We don’t mean to sound like a broken record, but it’s smart to check your tire pressure and tire treads regularly and have your auto mechanic inspect and rotate your tires according to the recommended maintenance schedule. Also make sure your spare tire is road-worthy and that you have the necessary tools to change your tire yourself if roadside assistance is spotty in your area.
You Get a Chip or Crack in Your Windshield: Now this one is maddening. You could be driving happily along the road on a perfectly clear day with minimal traffic and suddenly--BAM!--a rock or other road debris flies up and hits your windshield. This is likely to leave a chip or crack, and, if you’re particularly unlucky, the chip or crack can spread rapidly. Obviously, if your windshield has a large crack, you need to have it addressed immediately. But even a small ding can damage the integrity of your windshield, and you should have a trustworthy auto mechanic inspect the windshield so you can decide whether it can be repaired or if it needs to be replaced.
Now, is this situation preventable? Sure, if you leave your car parked at home in your garage and never take it anywhere...but that’s not exactly realistic. You can try to avoid driving on gravel roads or following too closely behind construction vehicles or other vehicles, like pickup trucks, that are obviously carrying debris. But other things besides road debris can cause windshield damage, including fender benders and even neighborhood kids playing baseball with your car standing in for home plate. The most important thing is to have your windshield inspected for cracks and dings whenever you have your car serviced; and, if you see any damage to your windshield, have it addressed promptly.
If you need your battery, starter, radiator, tires, or windshield inspected or repaired, or any other scheduled maintenance or repair, you can make sure your car is always running the way it should by having your car inspected and serviced regularly. We at Nordgren Automotive are serious about keeping you and your family safe on the roads. Give us a call to schedule an appointment at (763) 703-1365.