In today’s hustle and bustle society, our cars are becoming more like second homes. With long commutes and more impacted freeways, we spend hours in our cars daily. We depend on our vehicles. Our cars are a part of our livelihood so it is without a question that we need our cars to be reliable and dependable pieces of machinery. Unfortunately, no matter how new or old your car is you are going to eventually run into issues. Not only will this bring you a load of stress but also a hit to your pocketbook. Thankfully, for the most part, a lot of common car problems can be avoided with simple maintenance.
Top 20 Most Common Car Problems
1. Poor Gas Mileage
If you are noticing that your car is no longer getting the stellar mpg it once had when it freshly rolled off the lot it could be due to a lack of maintenance. This common problem is easily remedied with regular oil changes, changing your air filter, and making sure your vehicle receives a spark plug change when it’s time. With these minor and relatively inexpensive fixes, you’ll be able to spend less time at the gas pump and more time on the road.
2. Worn Brake Pads
Worn brake pads can cause more problems than just losing a few dollars to get the problem fixed. Worn brake pads are a dangerous thing to ignore. Maintenance on your brakes is vital, you need a car that can reliably stop. This is not something that you take your chances on to save a few dollars. Worn brake pads will often squeal or make similar noises when they are pushed too hard. In addition, worn pads can wear out your brake rotors. Not good.
3. Shaky Steering Wheel
If your steering wheel shakes this could be because of bad wheel bearings or because of a worn-out suspension. If you notice that even when driving on smooth roads your steering wheel is shaking then it’s time to take your car in to be inspected. At high speeds, this problem can become dangerous and can cause a serious accident. Your wheels and suspension should be inspected. You should also make sure you have proper alignment and your tires should be checked for proper tire pressure
One of the worst things that can happen to any car owner is stalling out when you are driving. Not only is this terrifying to experience it is also incredibly dangerous and can cause a serious accident. Most of the time when a car stalls it is due to a lack of simple maintenance. Faulty filters, a bad fuel line or defective spark plugs are all common reasons for stalling.
Coolant is a necessary component of a working car. Coolant has one purpose and that is to cool engine blocks by displacing excess heat to the radiator. When coolant leaks, less coolant reaches the engine block thus leading to your car to overheat. Ignoring a coolant leak can lead to further engine problems if not fixed. If a car happens to overheat you are at risk of items like the head gaskets or thermostat also going the way of the dinosaurs. This is an issue with a waterfall of effects!
6. Warning Lights on Dashboard
Those lights that show up on your dash actually do serve a purpose besides being an annoyance that won’t go away. These lights can indicate problems ranging from low tire pressure, battery problems, overheating or that you are low on fuel. Most modern cars are even equipped with ECU (engine control unit) sensors that are attached to various engine components. Always check with your owner’s manual to confirm what the warning lights indicate on your specific make and model.
7. Smoke From the Exhaust
Smoke from your exhaust can be caused by a variety of issues, none of which are good.
White smoke is generally due to coolant that has leaked into the fuel of your car usually due to a blown head gasket. Blue or grey smoke is due to burning oil or an oil leak in the combustion chamber. Any smoke coming from your exhaust will need immediate attention and can result in your getting a fine from the local police! Yes, that’s right, time to get it fixed.
8. Dead Car Battery
Sometimes you can receive a lemon battery from the factory and sometimes a dead battery can be because of human error. Leaving interior or exterior lights on will always result in a dead car battery. Although a simple jump from another car can remedy this problem it is still recommended that you replace the battery. Car batteries should be changed every three to six years as part of regular maintenance.
9. Starter Issues
A faulty starter means that you are now the owner of a very expensive lawn ornament. Without a working starter, your car will be non-operable. Considering that you are not able to drive your vehicle, it’s pretty obvious that your car will need to be taken in to have this problem fixed. It is not the worst of problems that you can face but an annoyance no less, especially if you’re in a situation where you are in a rush or without cell service.
10. High Oil Consumption
When a car starts to consume a higher than usual amount of oil this can be a sign of a more serious problem. Ignoring high oil consumption can lead to corrosion of your engine- a problem that is easily avoidable. High oil consumption is usually due to a clogged oil filter. Regular oil changes are a necessary part of your car’s maintenance and overall health. Keeping your oil clean and at proper levels will keep your car in optimal health.
11. Uneven Tire Wear
I think it goes without saying that the tires on your vehicles take a huge brunt of wear and tear daily. If you are in need of an alignment, have not had your tires rotated, or are driving without your tired inflated at the proper PSI you run the risk of uneven tire wear. If you are driving with uneven wear this can be dangerous in poor weather conditions as you will not have proper grip on the road. These are all easy fixes, keeping your tires in proper working condition is imperative and a part of general maintenance every car owner will experience.
12. Cracked WIndshield
A cracked windshield is more of an issue than just the glaring cosmetic issue it may seem to be. A crack, no matter how small will compromise the structural integrity of your windshield. This is a more serious problem than it appears to be and should be handled in a timely manner to avoid any further problems. As with other maintenance issues, you can also get a ticket from the police for a cracked window. This will cause you to have to get it repaired before the issue is out of the court! Don’t mess with this in any way.
13. Transmission Problems
Any issue related to your transmission needs to be taken very seriously and checked out immediately. The transmission is responsible for the conversion of power that is produced by the engine into a rotational force. This rotational force is what is responsible for the movement of the vehicle. If the gears do in fact wear out, this can cause serious damage that can cause the car to become inoperable.
Another issue that can present itself with a transmission is transmission fluid leaks. Over time small holes can become present in the transmission system which results in leaks. Not only will this cause inefficiency in your transmission but it can lead to transmission failure.
14. Cosmetic Issues
While cosmetic issues like, scratches in your paint, yellowing or fogged up headlights may be annoying, these issues are simple to repair and will cause no actual damage to your car. These annoyances are cheap to fix with a bit of touch up paint or a headlight restoration kit. Finally, something inexpensive and easy to repair by yourself!
15. Problems With Lights
Lights not only help us see at night, but exterior lights are also there to help keep you, the driver safe! In some cases, poor wiring or corrosion can create issues with the function of your exterior lights. Lights should be inspected and in the event you have a faulty light it should be changed immediately not only to avoid a costly ticket but most importantly to keep you safe.
16. Faulty Power Windows
A power window that doesn’t work is frustrating to say the least. Although this is not an issue that will cause any real damage to your vehicle, this is an annoyance. Power windows that fail to work will eventually need fixing as it can lead to leaks and water damage if ignored.
17. Clogged Filters
The Transmission is meant to be a closed system and a clogged filter can drastically reduce the performance of your transmission. When pollutants are present it can clog your transmission filter over time. Not replacing this filter can create irreversible damage. Again, maintenance is so incredibly important.
18. Bad Car Speakers
One of the most frustrating things that can happen to any car is a speaker that is bad. A bad speaker has symptoms like intermittent poor sound quality, buzzing or crackling sounds. At times this can happen when the stereo system itself is powered off! Typically a speaker becomes bad due to either being played too loudly for too long, a short in the wiring or due to physical damage within the cars interior. Water damage can also cause a speaker to go bad. Although the repair is not always expensive, it can take a professional to diagnose and repair. Overall an annoying but fixable problem.
19. Radiator That Leaks
There are a plethora of reasons why a radiator may leak and cause issues for you. Among the many reasons are physical damage from road debris, a leaking or corroded core or even a leaking cap. Another issue that can often appear like a leaking radiator but actually isn’t relates to the hoses that enter and exit the system. These hoses have friction clamp connection and are made of rubber that can degrade over time and leak. In addition, your overflow tank may also be leaking fluid! These are often made of plastic and fail on a regular basis due to heat and corrosion. This problem is often a rabbit hole and can cause even the best mechanic to spend hours diagnosing the issue.
20. Peeling Exterior Paint
Does your car look like it’s peeling from a bad sunburn? Well, you’re actually not too far off! One of the greatest enemies of your car is the sun and the physical effect of peeling paint is due to the UV damage from our sun. Your paint is made of several layers and the top layer (clear coat) is often the victim of the blistering suns rays. Poor maintenance and a poor waxing routine will typically result in peeling exterior paint. Sometimes, there are issues with the paint as it comes directly from the manufacturer! Many Honda and Toyota products from the late 90’s and early 2000’s suffered from peeling paint. This is an expensive fix and will require a completely new paint job. Word to the wise, a cheap paint job is cheap for a reason!
Through the course of this article there has been one recurring theme- maintenance is important! So many expensive repairs can be so easily avoided, saving you time and saving you money. Yes, it’s a hassle to take your car back down to the dealer. I know no one wants to wait around in an uncomfortable waiting room while you wait for your oil to be changed. Who wants to watch lousy day time TV while their tires are being changed out? Absolutely no one. These are the pains of owning a vehicle, but these are also mandatory hassles we as car owners have to endure to make sure that our hunk of metal on four wheels stays reliable so that it can perform it’s honorable duty day in and day out. Take care of your car and your vehicle will be there to take care of you.