It’s easy to stress unnecessarily about car maintenance. Car terms are confusing at times and make the prospect of dealing with a maintenance issue seem intimidating. If you’re worried about properly caring for your car but lack comprehensive automotive knowledge, read through these signs your car needs servicing. They’ll get you on the right track regarding maintenance and keep you from stressing.
An obvious sign your car needs servicing is the presence of an illuminated dashboard alert. The orange check engine light is the most well known. A flashing check engine light indicates an urgent engine problem that needs immediate attention. Another common light tracks tire pressure. This is part of the Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) and appears as a cross-section of a flat tire with an exclamation mark. This alert’s activation, along with several other signs your tire is about to go flat, gives you notice so you can rectify damage to a tire. Additional lights that signal it’s time to assess your car closer include your oil pressure light and battery light.
Unusual Vehicle Noise
Abnormal sounds also provide important clues about needed servicing. Drivers often hear squealing, grating, and excessive vibration upon starting the car. A heavy squealing sound that goes away soon after ignition could mean you need to replace the timing belt on your engine. A squeal when braking is a surefire sign the brakes have worn and require attention. Friction when shifting gears indicates an issue with the gearbox. Listen for other sounds as well—no car sounds the same, and it’s safe to assume a sound you notice is one that shouldn’t occur at all.
Leaking Liquids Under Your Car
There are eight liquids your car utilizes to run smoothly: radiator fluid, motor oil, transmission fluid, gasoline, power steering fluid, air conditioning coolant, brake fluid, and windshield washer fluid. When they leak, you need to service your car to stop the leaking quickly. To assess what fluid is leaking, here is an automotive fluid color (and smell) guide.
- Radiator fluid: Yellow
- Motor oil: Brown
- Transmission fluid: Red
- Gasoline: Transparent (with a noxious odor)
- Power steering fluid: Amber (smells like burnt marshmallows)
- Air conditioning coolant: Very bright colors such as green, orange, pink, or blue
- Brake fluid: Yellow or brown
- Windshield wiper fluid: Blue or green (smells like glass cleaner)