What Can I Tell My Mechanic?

Confused Guy

Wondering how to explain to your mechanic what is going wrong with your vehicle?
Here are some brief descriptions to assist you when communicating to your mechanic and helping them properly diagnose what need repair..


Fluid Leaks
You can identify fluids by their color and consistency:
• Pastel Blue, Yellowish Green, or Florescent Orange colors indicate an anti-freeze leak or an overheated engine caused by a bad hose, water pump or leaky radiator.
• A dark brown or black oily fluid means the engine is leaking oil. A bad gasket or seal could cause a leak.
• A red oily spot indicates a transmission or power-steering fluid leak.
• A puddle of clear water usually is no problem. It may be normal condensation from your vehicle’s air conditioner.

Smells Like Trouble
Some problems are right under your nose. You can detect them by their odor:
• The smell of burned toast — a light, sharp odor — often indicates an electrical short and burning insulation. To be safe, try not to drive your car until the problem is looked at and diagnosed.
• The smell of rotten eggs or a continual burning-Sulphur smell — this usually indicates a problem in the catalytic converter or other emission control devices. Be sure to get this diagnosed and repaired right away.
• A thick acrid odor is most likely burning oil. Look for sign of a leak.
• The smell of gasoline vapors after a failed start can mean you have flooded the engine. Wait a minute or two before trying again. If the odor continues, chances are there’s a leak in the fuel system — this can prove to be a dangerous problem that needs attention immediately.
• If you smell a burning resin or an acrid chemical odor this may signal overheated brakes or clutch. Check your parking brake. Stop when it is safe and allow the brakes to cool after repeated hard braking on mountain roads. Light smoke coming from a wheel indicates a stuck brake assembly. The vehicle should be towed for repair.
• A sweet, steamy odor indicates a coolant leak. If the temperature gauge or warning light does not indicate overheating, drive carefully to the nearest service station, keeping an eye on your gauges. If the odor is accompanied by a hot, metallic scent and steam from under the hood, your engine has overheated. Pull over immediately. Continued driving could cause severe engine damage. The vehicle should be towed for repair.

Sounds Like Trouble
Rattles, rumbles, squeals, squeaks and other sounds provide valuable clues about problems and maintenance needs. Here are some common noises and what they mean:
Squeal — A blaring, sharp noise, usually in connection to engine speed:
• Loose or worn power steering, fan or air conditioning belt.
Click — A slight sharp noise, related to either engine speed or vehicle speed:
• Stuck valve lifter or low engine oil.
• Loose wheel cover.
• Loose or bent fan blade.
Screech — A high-pitched metallic  sound; usually occurs while the vehicle is in motion:
• Caused by brake wear indicators to let you know it’s time for maintenance.
• Rumble — a low-pitched rhythmic sound.
• Defective exhaust pipe, converter or muffler.
• Worn universal joint or other drive-line component.
Ping — A high-pitched tapping sound, related to engine speed:
• Usually heard when using gas with a lower octane rating than recommended. Check your owner’s manual for the proper octane rating. If the problem continues, engine ignition timing could be at fault.
Heavy Knock — A rhythmic pounding sound:
• Worn crankshaft or connecting rod bearings.
• Loose transmission torque converter.
Clunk — A random thumping sound:
• Loose shock absorber or other suspension component.
• Loose exhaust pipe or muffler.

Feels Like Trouble
Rough ride and difficult handling, vibration and bad performance are all symptoms you can feel. These symptoms almost always are due to a problem.
• Worn steering components like the idler or ball joint and misaligned front wheels can cause wandering or difficulty steering in a straight line.
• Pulling — when tends to steer to the left or right — can be caused by something as routine as under-inflated tires, or as serious as a misaligned or damaged front end.
Ride and Handling
• Improper tire inflation, worn shock absorbers or other suspension components — can contribute to poor cornering.
• Keep in mind there is no hard and fast rule about when to replace shock absorbers or struts, try this test: bounce the car up and down hard at each wheel and then let go. If your vehicle bounces twice or more you need of new shocks..
• Springs do not normally wear out and do not need replacement unless one corner of the vehicle is lower than the others. Overloading your vehicle can damage the springs.
• Balance tires properly. An unbalanced or improperly balanced tire causes a vehicle to vibrate and may wear steering and suspension components prematurely.
Brake problems have several symptoms. Schedule diagnosis and repair if:
• Car pulls to the side when the brakes are applied.
• The brake pedal sinks to the floor when applied and pressure maintained.
• You hear or feel grinding or grinding during braking.
• Most obvious of all is “brake” light on the instrument panel is lit.
The following symptoms indicate engine trouble. Get a diagnosis and schedule the repair.
• Difficulty starting the engine.
• The “check engine” light on the instrument panel is lit.
• Rough idling or stalling.
• Poor acceleration.
• Poor fuel economy.
• Excessive oil use (more than one quart between changes).
• When turning off engine continues running even after the key is removed.
Transmission problems maybe actual component failure or simply a disconnected hose or plugged filter. Make sure the technician checks all the simple items first; transmission repairs are expensive. Here are some of the most common symptoms:
• Hard or abrupt shifts between gears.
• Delayed or no response when shifting from neutral to drive or reverse.
• Doesn’t shift during normal acceleration.
• Slippage at acceleration. The engine revs up, but the vehicle does not respond.

Do you find yourself having to explain engine troubles to your mechanic a little too often? Or, have you been stuck on the side of the rode one too many times? Perhaps it is time for a different vehicle. Check out Highway Motors inventory of Used Cars for sale. Our online inventory can help you evaluate your next model. All of our vehicles are reconditioned and come with a 90 day or 3000 mile warranty.
Happy Driving!

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