No matter how meticulous you are when it comes to taking your car for routine check-ups and tune-ups, minor or major malfunctions are bound to happen when you least expect it. When these occasional hiccups happen, you might panic and ask yourself what’s wrong with my car? In order to prepare you for such situations, we compiled a list of signs and symptoms that will help you recognize the most common car problems, as well as tips on how to solve them on the fly. Follow these tips, and you’ll be able to continue your journey or at least get yourself and your vehicle safely to the nearest mechanic.

Brake Pad Wear

One of the most important safety precautions is having fully functional brakes that can stop your car in any given moment. If you’re worried about the state of your breaks but the indicator on your dashboard is not lighting up, checking if everything is in order requires just a quick glance and can be done without even removing the wheels. Visually inspect the brake pads and check how thick they are. If the brake pads on your car appear to be very thin, it’s time to replace them. Replacing the pads by yourself is feasible, but we suggest a quick visit to a certified mechanic just to make sure everything is done by the book.

Brake Fluid

Aside from inspecting your brake pads, you’ll want to check the brake fluid as well. This is among the most neglected car problems and something drivers completely forget about, consequently compromising their safety on the road. According to manufacturers, brake fluid should be flushed and replaced every 24 months to assure your vehicle will stop properly.

Oil Leaks

Newer cars depend on high-quality oil as their lifeblood. It’s essential for keeping your vehicle running smoothly and efficiently. Postponing your oil changes is one of the worst things you can do for your car and can cause significant engine damage in a short period of time. Make sure to follow manufacturer recommendations and replace your oil accordingly. However, sometimes the oil light on your dashboard might light up sooner than expected. In cases like these, you’re probably experiencing a leak of some sorts. We strongly suggest you pull over and check the oil levels under the hood, or if your car is parked, examine the pavement underneath it and look for dark oily stains. To avoid these situations, make sure to replace your car’s oil filter during your next oil change.


car oil leak and drop on floor

Bad Gas Mileage

If your car is burning more fuel than it used to, you should probably check a few things. Bad gas mileage is a tell-tale sign that your fuel filters and air filters need to be replaced. Also, spark plugs play a key role in fuel economy as they are responsible for sparking combustion in your engine. If all of the above are working as intended, check the tire pressure. As long as you conduct regular maintenance and replace the necessary parts, your cost per mile should decrease.

Dirty Air Filter

Modern internal combustion engines rely on air filters to prevent various types of debris getting inside, while also providing sufficient airflow so that the proper combination of air and gasoline may occur. The system works like clockwork as long as the air filters are not clogged. If the air filters get dirty, you’ll notice a drop in performance and an increase in fuel consumption. Another sign that your engine might be compromised is black smoke coming from the exhaust pipe. Cleaning or replacing the air filters will quickly remedy the issue.

Clogged Transmission Filter and Transmission System Failure

The fluid in your transmission system is responsible for keeping the moving parts lubricated and working correctly, allowing you to shift gears smoothly. In order to keep the fluid clean and grime-free, manufacturers include a specialized filter. Like any other filter, it can get dirty over time and needs to be cleaned or replaced to ensure the entire transmission system does not fail. If shifting into gear feels clunky or you notice an unusual sound, it’s probably a good idea to immediately drive yourself to the nearest workshop for transmission repair work.

Suspension Misalignment

Balancing tires and having your suspension aligned is crucial if you want your vehicle to perform efficiently. The easiest way to notice suspension misalignment is to inspect your car’s handling or steering. If it’s a bit clunky, you may need to drive your vehicle to the nearest certified mechanic and have him realign your suspension and wheels. Another indicator is uneven tire wear. Tires tend to take the biggest hit from even the slightest deviation from the correct alignment. If you’re looking to make the most of your new tires and save some cash in the long run, have your car checked for misalignments on a regular basis.

Engine Overheating

While engine overheating is not a common occurrence with newer cars and trucks thanks to their modern cooling systems, it can still happen, and the number one cause is a faulty radiator. A radiator that’s malfunctioning or is leaking can result in severe damage to your engine so paying attention to the warning lights and acting quickly will save you from receiving a hefty bill from your mechanic. Also, the coolant liquid needs to be flushed and replaced during routine maintenance in order to stay on top of possible engine overheating.

Battery Failure

Even though they are rechargeable, car batteries do not last forever and need to replaced every 3 years or so. That being said, car batteries can go flat even before their expiration date for several reasons. Faulty connectors, exposure to excess heat during hot summer days, or leaving the radio on during the night can result in a completely drained battery. The primary purpose of the car battery is to power up the starter which is responsible for starting the engine. With a dead battery, your efforts to start your car will be rendered futile unless you call someone to help you jumpstart the engine.

car warning battery light

Alternator Failure

Aside from the car battery, the alternator is a key component responsible for supplying your car’s electrical systems with electricity and keeping them running once the engine ignition is switched on. The alternator also recharges the battery, keeping it fully charged at all time while the engine is running. Thanks to this, your vehicle’s electrical systems will keep running even when the alternator starts malfunctioning. This will buy you some time and will allow you to drive for another twenty or so miles. Make sure to use those miles wisely and drive to the nearest repair shop to quickly replace your alternator before your battery drains completely.

We hope this list helps you identify and solve common vehicle problems. Remember to always pay attention to the warning lights on your dashboard and resolve the potential issues as soon as possible. Comment below which tip helped you the most in fixing your car and getting back on the road. For more articles related to road safety or general driving tips, make sure to keep up with our blog. If you find yourself in a jam and require immediate road assistance, Phoenix Towing Arizona is one call away.