Car Repair

While modern vehicles are able to stand up to a great deal of wear and tear, the truth of the matter is that they are not immortal. Even the most rugged of designs will fall victim to age and abuse if they are not cared for properly. Thankfully, not all tasks require the help (and costs) of a professional mechanic. You have much more power than you may realise in terms of basic car maintenance. This will help to keep your unit running efficiently while protecting your safety alongside that of your passengers. So, what are some easy tips and tricks that can maintain the functionality of your car?

Car Maintenance


Tires will naturally take the brunt of the bumps and bruises associated with the open road. So, they need to be periodically checked for damages, wear and abrasions. Pay particular attention to their tread. If it appears worn, you will likely need a new set of tires in the near future. Uneven wear can be a sign that you need an alignment (from a mechanic). Maintain adequate internal pressure; failing to do so will shorten their lifespan. Check to see whether or not you have all-weather tires. If not, you will need to purchase different variants for summer and winter.


Do you notice any dust around or within the hubcaps of your tires? Are these hubcaps very hot to the touch after you have been driving? Do you hear squeaking or grinding when applying pressure to the brake pedal? These are all signs that your require a brake replacement. If the pedal feels sluggish or “spongy”, there may be a problem with the master cylinder (the portion of the engine that holds brake fluid). Make sure that this reservoir is full and that there are no leaks.

Interior Concerns

The interior of your vehicle is just as functional as it should be aesthetically pleasing. If you fail to care for this area properly, unsightly damage will inevitably occur over time. Every month (and perhaps twice a week during the summer), take some time to care for surfaces such as leather, wood and vinyl. There are different topical formulations for each variant and entire kits can be purchased at most car care centres. Applying a protective spray to any upholstery will also help to avoid any unsightly stains from setting in. Wash all foot mats and any other items that are able to be removed.

In terms of safety, make sure that all dials and indicator lights on your dashboard are working as they should. Find the fuse box and examine the fuses. Look for any blown units and replace them as necessary. Check to see whether all seatbelts are working properly. These simple steps can make certain that you and your passengers are safe at all times.

Underneath the Bonnet

The engine can be a particularly tricky area to service and yet, there are several do-it-yourself tasks which are easy to accomplish. Check the level of all fluids (brake, transmission, oil and coolant). Top-up these fluids as may be necessary. Check for leaks around all joints. Examine hoses for frays or signs of wear. Make sure visible connections are firm (such as from the distributor cap to the spark plugs). Gently pull on all belts (such as the fan belt and the serpentine belt). If they feel loose, they may need to be replaced. Turn on the engine and let it run for a few minutes. See if you detect any acrid smells. This could be a sign that there is a leak which is not visible to the naked eye.

Exterior Beauty

Regularly buff, was and polish the painted areas of your car. Clean all windows with an ammonia-based solution. Check for early signs of rust on any chrome parts such as the bumpers. If you encounter any minor imperfections, repair kits can be purchased for less than 20 dollars. A small touch-up on a Saturday afternoon is much better than waiting for the problem to advance and being forced to take your vehicle to an expensive detailing clinic.

Common Car Problems

Even modern cars will encounter issues from time to time. Unfortunately, some of these will need to be addressed by a qualified service professional. There are still a few symptoms of issues which you may be able to address yourself. If not, providing the mechanic with as much information as possible will help to rectify the issues as soon as possible. This article is meant to serve as a quick reference guide if you happen to note that your vehicle is not running as it should.

The Car Fails to Start

When you turn the ignition, does the car entirely fail to start? There could be a number of root causes to this situation. If the engine does not turn over whatsoever, the chances are high that your battery may be dead. If it turns over but no combustion takes place, you may have an issue with a part that is known as a starter. Your spark plugs could likewise need to be replaced.

The Engine is Overheating

If your engine consistently overheats, the first step is to check the level of coolant and refill the reservoir if necessary. Also, make sure that the oil has been changed and that the correct amount is present. The oil cap normally tells you the type of oil which your car uses as well as how many litres the engine requires.

Coolant Leaks

A coolant leak can be another common issues especially with vehicles that are more than five years old. Small leaks can normally be addressed with the use of a powdered sealant (this can be found at most automotive repair shops). However, this is usually a temporary solution. The seal could become damaged and in the case of a larger leak, a mechanic will be required. An overheating engine, white smoke emanating from underneath the bonnet and a greenish liquid found below your car are all signs that you may have a coolant leak.

Strange Noises

Cars are known to make a number of strange noises and these can obviously be difficult to diagnose in some cases. Let's look at some common noises and their probable causes.

  • A grinding or squeaking sound when you brake: this indicates that your brake pads may be worn and require a replacement.
  • An engine which emits an unsteady “bang” could signal that not all pistons are firing correctly (or some are not firing whatsoever).
  • A “knocking” noise underneath the bonnet can be quite serious. It may indicate a loose part or signal that an engine mount has broken. In such a case, perform a visual inspection and take the vehicle to a mechanic as soon as possible.
  • A “grinding” sound when changing gears is a sign that there could be issues with the clutch. In automatic cars, a similar grinding may be indicative that the transmission needs to be examined.

These are some of the most common sounds although there are certainly many others which can occur. The bottom line is that if your vehicle begins to make any strange noises, it is best to see a mechanic at your earliest possible convenience.

Strangely Coloured Smoke from the Exhaust

You can think of the exhaust as the “barometer” of your vehicle. In most cases, you should see little or no smoke while driving. Different colours can be used to help diagnose equally different problems. Some observations can be seen below:

  • White smoke can indicate that coolant is being vaporized in the combustion chamber. It may also signal that your petrol is not being burned completely.
  • Bluish smoke is normally a hint that you have an oil leak.
  • Black or grey smoke is another sign that fuel is failing to be burned.
  • Brown smoke is commonly seen when there are problems with a transmission in automatic vehicles.

These are nonetheless not always absolutely certain signs that there can be trouble. Professional diagnosis is therefore your best option.

Braking Issues

Squeaking, grinding or grating sounds will normally indicate that your pads are worn. In particular, grinding is often associated with damaged rotors (this can occur if the pads are not replaced at their recommended mileage limits). If such noises are then combined with insufficient or sluggish stopping power, the chances are high that your brakes need servicing.