“Drive it ‘til it breaks” — it’s a motto you’ve probably come across. Here’s the problem with that philosophy. What you’re actually saying is “drive it until there’s no longer any will in your vehicle to move down the road.” Which is a very, very bad policy.
What you’ve got to realize is, were you to stop driving your car every time anything broke, you’d have a very well-kept automobile indeed. There are varying levels of broken. The odd power window switch that won’t behave isn’t going to keep you from soldiering forth for a long road trip.
There are, however, certain indicators your ride is getting ready to leave you in a less-than-desirable position. When you notice these, it’s time to do the level-headed thing and get the car repaired as soon as possible.
- A Flat Tire
If you’re noticing one side of the car “wobbling” up and down, and a low-pitched noise like the blades of a helicopter overhead, pull over and inspect your tire as soon as possible. A tire blowout can be deadly, and it’s not something you want to risk.
- A Knock or Ping
If you’re not familiar with what a ping sounds like, it’s not hard to notice. Pinging is the sound of your motor trying to die. It’s a noise that occurs when engine internals that aren’t supposed to make contact with one another collide. You’ll want to mitigate this situation ASAP if you plan on driving your car much longer.
- A Cracked Windshield
With this one, there are varying degrees of danger. You’re safer driving with a rock chip in your windshield than a large crack across the entire thing, but both will earn you a ticket. If the windshield does have major damage, you’ll want to avoid the risk of a complete failure, which could result in debris being projected into the cabin. You’re better off fixing it right away than having it shatter on you at 65 miles per hour.
- High Engine Temperature
Cars today have exceptional cooling systems, so overheating has become less of an issue. It is still possible, though, particularly if there has been damage to your radiator or water jacket. Watch your gauges for signs of this. You can even run the heater and see if your engine temp goes down if you don’t trust your first reading. Of course, if you have the air conditioning on, it’ll go out before the car starts to smoke if you don’t have any coolant left.
- Low Oil Pressure
Like the last issue we mentioned, this one comes down to watching your gauges, and it doesn’t occur nearly as often as it used to. If your oil pressure gauge takes a dive, it’s possible something has broken and there’s no longer any lubricant protecting your engine’s vital innards. You’ll want to arrange a tow before things get smoky and your ride melts from the inside.
Even if something minor is making a noise — for example, your brakes are squeaking because the pads are low — you’ll win in the long run by taking special care of your car. These five are red flags, not to be taken lightly in any circumstance because doing so could leave your carless or, worse, injured.