5 Signs Your Car is Going to Break Down and What You Should Do if it Does

broken down carSometimes we take for granted how many hours we spend on the road. As Americans, we spend a good chunk of our lives behind the wheel of an automobile. As such, you would imagine that we’d have a better understanding of how our vehicles work.

Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Many drivers are not equipped with the knowledge they need to fix a problem with their car, or to even see that a problem is coming. Being able to identify and solve an issue can save you a lot of time, money and trouble.

What are the telltale signs that your car is about to break down? It’s worth learning about. Read on, and we’ll walk you through a few key signifiers.

1. Lights Appearing On Your Dashboard

Your dashboard is there to communicate information between the car and you, the driver. And yet, many automobile users tend to ignore or misunderstand what these signals mean. It’s true that some lights that come on the dashboard might not mean much, or might not mean that your car is in imminent danger.

But others do mean this kind of risk, and so if a light comes on your dashboard, it’s something you should pay a lot of attention to.

For example: if the battery symbol for your car doesn’t light up when you start your car, or if it stays lit the entire time you drive, it could mean trouble. A flashing engine light could mean your engine is about to shut down. An exclamation mark inside of a circle could mean a wealth of potentially serious problems.

The bottom line is simple. If you see a strange light turn on within your dashboard system, take it seriously. It could save you ending up on the side of the road later on.

2. Chugging or Squealing From Your Car

A healthy car should drive with a nice, reassuring purr from the engine. You’ve spent a lot of time with your car, and you probably know what it typically sounds like when you take it out on the roads or on the highway.

Hearing different sounds than you’re used to from your car could indicate that trouble is around the corner. If your engine is making a chugging sound, it could mean that your battery is discharged or about to run flat. Time to get off the road.

High pitched squeals coming from your vehicle is usually a sign of a mechanical issue. Your fan belt may not be attached right, or your breaks might be worn down and need to be replaced. If you hear squealing, something likely needs to be replaced, and failure to do so could lead to bigger issues.

Hissing might be an indication of a more present issue: a leak or an indication that your engine is overheating. You should pull over right away.

3. Puddles Underneath Your Car

This telltale sign is helpful because you can actually notice it before you get out on the road. Do you walk into your garage and see a big puddle underneath your car? Where is that coming from?

Leakage underneath a vehicle can be an indication of potential problems. Most likely, that puddle is the result of coolant leaking out from your vehicle. A lack of proper coolant can lead to your engine overheating next time you take it out for a long drive.

You’ll want to take it to a garage and get that fixed right away so you don’t run into an even worse problem.

4. Metal Flakes

Where to look for another telltale sign of danger? In your oil. If you look into the oil of your vehicle and notice that there metal flakes floating around, it might mean that something has gone seriously wrong under the hood.

These metal flakes have probably come from somewhere in the vehicle that has corroded or has started to corrode. As you can imagine, some of your vehicle corroding away is bound to eventually cause some serious issues in the future.

The moment you find flakes in the oil in your car, it’s time to take it into a garage and see what’s going on. Early identification can help save you money and trouble in the long-run.

5. Smoke From The Exhaust

Smoke is one of the more obvious signs of trouble, but there are some drivers that still don’t take the presence of colored exhaust seriously. If there is smoke coming out of the back of your vehicle when the engine turns on, it could mean a variety of things.

White smoke usually indicates that water has leaked into the fuel reserves of the car. Dark smoke in gray or black may be an indication that the filter in your vehicle needs changing. That’s smoke coming out of the back of your vehicle.

Obviously, if smoke starts coming out from under the hood of your vehicle, there’s a more immediate issue. It likely means that your car is overheating, and you should pull over immediately to rectify the issue. Smoke of any kind coming out of your vehicle isn’t a good sign, but some situations are worse than others.

Signs That Your Car Is Going To Break Down

There are several signs to look out for that can tip you off that your car is about to break down. The above are a few of the most common.

Need more help determining what’s wrong with your vehicle? Read through our collection of manuals for more helpful information.