Seven Causes of Car Breakdowns

Seven Causes of Car Breakdowns
  • Opening Intro -

    Your car usually runs great, but not today.

    For some reason it won’t start or perhaps it runs just fine until you hit highway speeds.

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Keep these common car problems in mind as you head back to college.

Certain car problems can be diagnosed by the owner with light repairs handled yourself apart from seeing a mechanic. There are a number of reasons why your car may not be running right including one of the following seven.

1. Fuel problems. Bad fuel can clog your fuel injector and cause your engine to run poorly. Engine pinging or knocking can be a sign that your car has bad gasoline as in not enough octane or too much water present. Drain the gasoline and dispose of it properly, then refill the gas tank with new fuel. Your car should then run fine. If the problem persists, then an oxygen sensor may be the blame, something your mechanic will need to replace.

2. Bad battery. If your battery is not working properly it won’t hold enough electricity to start your car. Batteries usually last about three years before needing replacement. In the interim, keeping battery posts cleaned and secured can ensure that it works properly. Scrub off the posts with a wire brush and apply petroleum jelly to keep it greased. Clamps and connections must remain secure.

3. Worn tires. Odd sounding noises coming from underneath your car could point to a number of problems. When accompanied by handling problems at highway speeds, your tires could be the culprit. Inspect your tires for signs of wear including cracking or cuts in the sidewall, bulges, blisters, and uneven or pronounced tread wear.

4. Bad spark plugs. Tune-ups may be a thing of the past, but your spark plugs need to be changed from time to time. Swap out intervals have increased dramatically, from 12,000 miles to up to 100,000 miles — check your owner’s manual for that information. Symptoms of bad spark plugs include weak acceleration, stalling and rough idling, resulting in a poor fuel mileage. Have your mechanic replace your spark plugs immediately; ask him to check the spark plug wires too.

5. Engine troubles. The battery is fine, the spark plugs are new and the gasoline is not an issue. Still, your car is just not running right. Could it be engine trouble? Yes, but it may not be as bad as you think. Instead of it being a cracked cylinder head it could be worn belts or hoses, therefore lift the hood and check both for cracking and peeling. If left untended it could lead to worse problems: such as engine overheating.

6. Bad brakes. What is that squealing noise? Why do your brakes grind or feel too soft? Brake pads and rotors are subject to wear and tear, more so if you do a lot of local driving. Brake pads or shoes may need to be replaced with drums or rotors resurfaced. Most drivers need to inspect their brake systems twice annually, a task any mechanic can handle.

7. Transmission problems. You’ll see a huge repair bill if you ignore transmission problems. A slipping or jerking transmission should be inspected. Hopefully, that check will be fairly routine as in replacing the transmission fluid. Low transmission fluid or leaks are among the most common transmission problems, but torque converter, solenoid and clutch problems might also be an issue.

Getting Help

If you cannot make repairs yourself, enlist the services of your mechanic. You might also keep your roadside service plan active, useful for jumping a dead battery, for towing your car, and for providing lock-out services.

See Also5 Used Cars for Under $5,000

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Categories: Campus Cars