Just like how humans exhibit signs of exhaustion and weakness, modern cars can alert you of any potential trouble. Sadly, the latest survey by Utires reveals that about 92 percent of U.S. car owners delay their car repair tasks longer than they should. And as a result, the average U.S. car owner forks out an additional $1,193 over the car’s lifespan as a cost of delayed car repair.
Time and road miles wreak wear and tear on even the best-maintained vehicle. Thus, getting an extended warranty for cars over 100k miles makes perfect sense as a safety net against high-priced, unforeseen repairs. The onus also falls on you to pay attention to the warning signs often displayed by your car.
Here are four telltale signs that point to the need for car repairs:
1. Check Engine Light
You’re cruising smoothly when all of a sudden, a light pops up on your dashboard. The illuminated symbol appears like the outline of a car engine, and the term “check engine” is alongside it. That’s the check engine light.
Many car owners take the check engine light for granted. You may not even notice any immediate problems with your car. But that doesn’t mean you should ignore this warning sign. Have a professional mechanic check your car’s engine and fix the issue immediately.
Some of the typical reasons your check engine light pops up include a bad oxygen sensor or a loose or missing gas cap. The check engine light could also be a sign of emission issues r other serious engine problems.
Over time, the problem could exacerbate, leading to costly repairs down the road. For example, a defective oxygen sensor is one common problem attributed to 10 percent of all check engine alerts.
Replacing the oxygen sensor immediately may cost you around $350. But ignoring the check engine light prompted by a malfunctioning oxygen sensor may damage your car’s catalytic converter and result in more expensive car repair. Replacing the catalytic converter is six times more expensive than the oxygen sensor. And further delays may necessitate complete engine replacement, which costs $5100 to $8,800.
2. Increased Fuel Usage
The question of fuel efficiency hardly is rarely missing in any conversation involving car purchases since car owners always try to get the most out of their car fuel mileage. By now, you should know how far a tank of gas can take you, especially if you’ve been driving your car for a while. If you start seeing dips in fuel efficiency, you should be worried since it means losing money at the pump.
Several reasons might contribute to poor gas mileage. An example is a faulty oxygen sensor. The oxygen sensor monitors the oxygen level in the exhaust and sends the feedback to the engine computer, which regulates the air-to-fuel mixture accordingly. A defective oxygen sensor may mean the engine computer cannot accurately regulate the air-fuel mixture, resulting in poor fuel economy.
If you notice increased fuel usage contrary to what you often use, you should immediately take your car to a repair mechanic for further diagnosis and repair.
3. Tailpipe Emissions
Your car emissions should be thin and disappear once your engine revs up. However, thick, billowing emissions point to a problem with your car’s engine.
Different engine problems will generate different smoke colors. Regardless of the color of tailpipe smoke, you should drive to the nearest auto repair shop for your car to be checked out. Make sure to tell the mechanic exactly what the smoke looks like to help them pinpoint the exact problem.
For instance, black smoke signifies an incredibly rich fuel-air mixture in your car engine. It means the fuel injectors pump high amounts of fuel or the intake valves restrict the adequate flow of air. The problem may result from a leaky fuel injector, a clogged air filter, or a defective fuel pressure regulator.
Meanwhile, blue-tinged smoke points to an engine that’s burning excessive amounts of oil. The culprit could be the wear of internal engine components such as piston rings, valve seals, and PCV valves. The problem calls for extensive engine work from the mechanic.
Lastly, white or grey smoke that doesn’t go away indicates a problem with coolant leaking into the combustion chambers. A blown head gasket, cracked cylinder head, or cracked engine block are all possible culprits.
4. Slow Acceleration
Your car should naturally pick up speed depending on how hard you put your foot down on the gas pedal. Cars that receive adequate fuel and are well-tuned should accelerate as expected.
Combustion engines deliver fuel to the engine and drive exhaust fumes away from the car. There are numerous components and sensors that function together to make the combustion process seamless and propel your vehicle forward. A malfunction within the fuel system often leads to car acceleration problems.
Here are several reasons your car may not be picking up speed like before:
- A dirty or faulty mass airflow sensor (MAF) may send inaccurate data to the vehicle’s internal computer when computing the air-fuel ratio.
- A faulty oxygen sensor cannot adjust the air to fuel ratio in the engine.
- A clogged air filter prevents enough fuel/air intake in the engine and the realization of the ideal ratio of air and fuel.
- Malfunctioned catalytic converter creates an improper level of back pressure in the engine. This action restricts the engine’s proper flow and leads to acceleration difficulties.
You should take your sluggish vehicle to the auto repair shop immediately. Driving with this type of issue may pose a safety hazard to you and other motorists. Even if the problem is as simple as an air filter replacement, it’s better to exercise caution than endanger your safety. The problem could also worsen and cause the need for more intensive car repairs.
The Bottom Line
If your car displays any of the mentioned signs, don’t just ignore them. The cost of delayed car repair may become too much to bear in the long run. Contact your mechanic immediately for a quick diagnosis and schedule car repair if needed so you can get back on the road confidently.