Using Your Senses to Detect Car Trouble

20 10 2011

Dale BertramWe get calls all the time from customers that tell us their car “sounds like” or “smells like” this or that.  Often customers feel self-conscious about doing this but it truly is helpful to us.  Our vehicles are really good communicators.  I know we have dash lights that illuminate to tell us many things but our senses are great at it too.

For example, if you notice a puddle under your car that is dark brown or black and oily looking in appearance, that is most likely engine oil.  This tells us you might have a bad seal or a loose oil filter.  If you see a red oily spot it is probably a transmission or power steering fluid leak.  A clear puddle of fluid is most likely air conditioning condensation, and is the only puddle you don’t need to be concerned about.

If you notice a smell of burnt toast it could be an electrical problem.  A smell of burning sulfur usually indicates a catalytic converter or emission control system problem.  An acrid odor could be burning oil or oil leaking onto a hot engine part. A chemical or resin-like odor might indicate a “dragging brake” or an emergency brake that’s been left on by mistake.  A sickly-sweet smell coupled with a fogged inside windshield is a strong indicator of a heater core failure.

Hearing the following sounds definitely means your vehicle wants attention! A squealing or scraping sound when you apply the brakes, knocks or pings from the engine when you accelerate or climb a hill, your muffler making a rumbling or hissing sound, the thumping of a tire due to a flaw, the clicking of a worn CV joint when you make a tight turn, an engine that keeps chugging when you’ve turned off the ignition.  All these noises indicate trouble!

If you are noticing any of the above, contact your car care provider so you can use your senses for more pleasant things like noticing the tantalizing aroma of fresh-baked bread or cookies!

Happy Motoring,






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