7 Common Car Troubles You Should Regularly Check For

The most common problems you'll have with your car can all be avoided by doing fast and easy checks of your vehicle. That way you can spot the signs of the problems before they manifest into a mechanical breakdown, car accident, or other costly issues.

Whether you're someone who likes to do your own basic maintenance or someone who prefers having a professional mechanic do it for you, here are the 7 most common car troubles by Van Isle Auto Glass you can regularly look for.

1. Oil Leaks

Maintaining proper levels of clean engine oil is important to ensure your engine operates smoothly. When your engine oil levels drop enough, your engine loses important protection from the lubrication, cleaning, and cooling that oil provides. If you have a leak, you'll want to spot it before you lose enough oil to cause a breakdown of your engine.

So how can you check if your engine oil is leaking before your engine warning light comes on? After your car is parked for a while, you can see if there is an oily pool underneath where the engine is. You might also start to notice that your engine sounds louder. If either of these is true, you should do a quick inspection of your engine oil dipstick over a day or two. If you notice a big drop, you likely have a leak.

2. Low Tire Pressure

If your tires lose air pressure, it affects both the performance and fuel efficiency of your vehicle, as well as shortening the lifespan of your tires. It can also cause your tires to fail, costing you a lot more than just replacing the tire.

You can check the pressure levels of all your tires very easily with a tire pressure gauge. You can get your own to use at home, but most gas stations will have them as well. You can make it part of your regular routine — when you go to fill up your car with gas, also check your tire pressure. The recommended tire pressure should be between 30 and 35 PSI.

3. Misaligned Wheels

Once you make sure all your tires are properly inflated to an even level, you should also take the opportunity to test your wheel alignment. Having misaligned wheels can cause your tires to wear out faster, as well as affecting the steering and performance of your vehicle.

To check your alignment, you can take your car onto a flat road and keep a very loose grip on the steering wheel. If you find the car pulls to either side, it can be a sign of an alignment issue. You might also notice it a lot more as you brake. To be surer, you can look at your tires at a stop. Park your car with your steering wheel aimed straight ahead, then get out and see if any of your tires point to the inside or outside instead of straight ahead. Any obvious problem should be taken in for a professional inspection and repair.

4. Windshield Chips & Cracks

Your windshield is not just there to prevent debris from hitting you in the face, it's also an important part of your vehicle's structural integrity. Windshields nowadays are bonded through a special type of adhesive to the frame, helping it stay rigid in the event of an accident. If your windshield is damaged due to a crack or chip, it can make your windshield more likely to fail to maintain that structural integrity.

Most visible damage to a windshield will be obvious when you look through it as you drive. However, smaller chips or cracks can be more difficult to notice right away. Once a week, you should carefully inspect your windshield to see if you can find any smaller chips and cracks. That way, you can get them repaired easily and cheaply, rather than having to replace the whole windshield once they get too big.

5. Worn Brake Pads

Your brakes work by pressing brake pads against the brake disc, which causes the wheels to slow and eventually stop. Over time, your brake pads will wear out until they lose their effectiveness. To check your brake pads, take a look at them through the spokes of your wheels. Your brake pads should have at least 1/4 inch thickness to still be safe; beyond that, you should get them replaced.

You can also try to check them by paying close attention when you press the brake pad — if you hear high-pitched screeching, that's a sign that you need new brake pads. All brake pads come with a metal indicator piece that is exposed when your brake pads get worn down close to unsafe levels. That metal piece presses against the brake disc, creating the high-pitched screech.

6. Worn Tire Tread

Similar to brake pads, your tires are also important to the safe operation of your vehicle. If the threads get too worn over time, it affects how well your car can turn or stop safely. There's a very simple test you can do to check the tread, and you should do it once a month.

You can either get a special tool designed to test the tread depth of a tire or use a penny. Put the penny into the treads all around your tires — if you can see the full part of Abraham Lincoln's head, your tread has worn down past safe levels and should be replaced immediately.

7. Burnt Out Lights

Having functioning headlights, taillights, and turn signals help the safety both for you and cars around you. The easiest check is to turn on your car and your lights but leave it in the park. Your headlights and turn signals you can check yourself by getting out of the car and making sure they're working fine — make sure to test your high beams too.

To test your brake lights, you will need to have someone else stand behind the car while you press the brakes, and they can tell you if any of the brake lights don't come on. If you have any lights that are burnt out, it not only affects the safety of your car but you can also receive a fine from the police if you operate the car without proper lighting.

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