9 Common Signs It’s Time To Visit An Auto Repair Shop

You rely on your vehicle to get you from one place to another, so having to leave it at a repair shop can be really inconvenient. However, there are times when you should take your car in for professional auto repair. Whether you know your way around an engine compartment, or you don't know your oil dipstick from a windshield wiper, these signs are an indication that you need to have your vehicle checked.

9 Common Signs it's Time to Visit an Auto Repair Shop

1. Your Vehicle Shakes or Shimmies

While some vibration may be perfectly normal in a vehicle, an abnormal amount of shaking is not. There are plenty of reasons this could happen. Pay attention to when the shaking happens or is most noticeable to help with diagnosis.

If you notice shaking or hesitation, there could be a problem with the fuel system, spark plugs, or sensors. A noticeable vibration on stopping may be a sign that it is time for new brakes or that you have a problem with your anti-lock braking system. Suspension, tire, and wheel issues can also lead to a generalized shaking or pulling sensation.

2. There Is a Stain in Your Parking Spot

There are gallons of fluids within your vehicle, and any of them could potentially leak. Take the time to peek at your parking space on a regular basis. If you notice a new spot after you've been parked there, check under your vehicle to see if there are any leaks.

If you notice any wet spots, it is probably a good idea to schedule an auto repair appointment to get the leak fixed. At the very least, be sure your fluid levels are all within their recommended limits before driving to avoid any additional problems.

3. The Engine Is Making an Unusually Loud Noise

Unless you are driving a fully electric vehicle, it is going to make some noise when running. Over time, you get used to the sounds of your own car, which makes it easier for you to hear something out of the ordinary.

Pay attention to when the noise happens most. Is it when the vehicle is shifting? If so, that could be a sign of a faulty transmission. Clicking or whirring when you start the car could mean the starter is starting to go. Any knocking or pinging sounds also warrant a closer look to determine their cause.

If you hear hissing sounds, especially if the car appears to be overheating, you should turn it off immediately and let it cool down. You may have damage in a hose or the radiator, and continued operation could cause serious damage.

4. The Temperature Gauge Is in the Red Zone

Under no circumstances should you allow the temperature gauge in your car to get to the red (or danger) zone. That means the engine is overheating, probably as a result of low or empty coolant.

There are a number of reasons your car could overheat. A blown water pump, low coolant, or faulty thermostat are all potential culprits. Regardless of why it is overheating, the end result could be warped cylinders and potential damage to the engine block or head gasket. Those are all major fixes, so don't wait. As soon as you notice your engine overheating, turn the car off and call an auto repair professional to have it checked.

5. You Are Adding Air to the Tires on a Regular Basis

Air levels in your tires will change a little as the outside temperature fluctuates. This will be more noticeable when there are big shifts between daytime highs and nighttime lows, or when the temperature shifts drastically from day to day. In cases like that, go ahead and add air to your tires without thinking twice.

If you find yourself needing to top them off more than once every week or so, you probably have a slow leak somewhere. Schedule an auto repair appointment to have the offending tire checked. It could have a small nail or other sharp object embedded in the treads.

Another possibility is that there is a leak around the valve stem. That is especially likely if you noticed the problem right after having the tires changed or rotated.

6. Dashboard Warning Lights Are On

Car designers don't add all those cool lights to your dashboard for visual effects. They are to alert you to a problem in one of the numerous systems of your vehicle. If one of them comes on, you should, at the very least, learn what it is trying to tell you.

Take a few minutes to find the warning light section in your owner's manual. If you don't have the original paperwork, look on the auto manufacturer's website. Learn to identify each warning light and what a solid vs. flashing signal means. Hint: one is usually more serious than the other. Now, identify what light is illuminated in your vehicle and see what the recommended action is.

7. You Notice a Drop in Fuel Economy

Over time, you get a feel for how far you can go between filling your fuel tank. When that changes, and you are stopping more often, it could be a sign of trouble.

Check your air filters to see if they are clogged. That could cause a decreased fuel economy. If they are clear, go ahead and schedule an auto repair appointment to see if the spark plugs, fuel injectors, or sensors could be responsible. Of course, it may be that you are suddenly driving differently, or blasting the air conditioning, so be cognizant of those factors as well.

8. Brakes That Are Overly Sensitive or Unresponsive

The brakes are an important feature of your vehicle. Think about it; with a gentle push, they can stop thousands of pounds of rolling metal. So, any problem with your brakes should be addressed as soon as you notice it.

There are three main problems that can indicate something wrong with your brakes. The first is audible. If you hear screeching or squealing coming from your wheels when you brake, they may need to be replaced. You could also have dirt, dust, or grease caked onto the brake pads, but it is best to have them checked to be sure.

In some cases, brakes can become suddenly sensitive to pressure. The slightest tap of the pedal and they apply hard. This can make judging your stops difficult and could lead to an accident. Your brakes may also seem to need a longer time to stop your vehicle. Unless you are towing or carrying a heavy load, this probably means they are due to be replaced.

9. It's Been a Year or More Since Your Last Service Appointment

You don't have to wait for a warning sign from your car to take it in to an auto repair station. Every vehicle has a specific timeline for scheduled maintenance. Check your owner's manual to learn what services should be performed at each routine visit.

Schedule Your Auto Repair Before Small Problems Grow Bigger

Small problems, like a minor leak, can quickly lead to major ones. Don't let that happen to you. If you notice any of these warning signs, contact the auto repair professionals at Faithfull Tire & Auto in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, to have your vehicle checked. They can help you find the problem and offer solutions to get it fixed, so you are back on the road quickly and safely.

Written by Faithfull Tire and Auto