Few things are worse than dealing with a broken down car.
One minute you’re driving along, on your way to work or do errands, the next thing you know, you’re stuck on the side of the road with a vehicle that won’t go. It’s stressful, inconvenient and getting it repaired can hit your wallet hard. That’s why a vehicle service contract, also known as an extended car warranty, can be a great way to help you cope with towing and unexpected repairs.
It’s important to know the signs of an impending breakdown. You may be able to save yourself the hassle of getting stranded and having to call for a tow. Here are some warning signs to look out for, and what to do.
What causes a vehicle to break down?
There are several vehicle components that will prevent your car from running if they fail. One example is a faulty alternator. If the alternator is not working, it will not charge the battery properly, even if the battery is in good condition. If the battery dies, your car will stop working.
An alternator is an electrical component that cannot be repaired and must be replaced.
If there’s a major problem with the vehicle engine, the vehicle will stop operating and cause a breakdown. These issues can be caused by overheating, lack of lubrication, dirty air filters or ignition related problems.
The transmission is also a vital part of your vehicle and if it fails, you won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.
How can I prevent a vehicle breakdown?
When you’re getting sick, you can usually tell; after all, you know your body best. The same goes for your vehicle. You operate it most often, and if something starts to go wrong, you’ll notice. Don’t ignore the warning signs of an impending breakdown. Putting off much needed repairs or maintenance will only aggravate the problem and it will cost more to fix; you’ll then have to deal with towing costs and other expenses.
Warning lights and gauges
Keep an eye out for activated warning lights on your instrument panel. If the check engine light comes on, and it’s not just a loose gas cap, it’s a good idea to get an engine diagnostic as soon as possible to determine the underlying issue. Be sure to pay attention to any lights that may come on during driving. One example is the battery light. If this light comes on while you are driving, this could signal a battery charging problem and a possible issue with the alternator. Speaking of lights, be sure to check that your headlights are shining brightly. If you start to see that the headlights are not as bright as they once were, that could also be a sign of a failing alternator.
Check the engine temperature gauge often. If the engine is running hot, there might be an issue with the car’s cooling system. Watch your oil pressure level as well to ensure there are no issues with the engine getting oil.
Are check engine repairs covered in the cost of extended car warranty? Read about the common check engine repairs covered with the right vehicle service plan.
Check your driveway for leaked fluids
If you are regularly seeing a puddle of fluid underneath where you usually park your car, don’t ignore it. The liquid could be any of the myriad fluids it takes to keep your car running. Green or blue tinted liquid could be engine coolant, which your car needs to keep from overheating. An oil leak may appear as a light brown color, ranging to black, depending on the age of the oil. Transmission fluid will have a red tint, bright or dark. Any sign of these fluids leaking, and you should take your vehicle to a repair shop right away.
Changes in vehicle performance
When your car begins to experience issues with the drivetrain components, you will probably see a difference in the vehicle performance, beginning with turning your key in the ignition. If your vehicle has always started up smoothly and quickly, you’ll notice if it’s taking longer than usual to start up and sounds rough or vibrates while idling.
When driving, the vehicle may shake or shudder when switching gears or when coming to a stop. You may also hear strange noises when operating the vehicle, such as knocking, hissing or popping. Any of these noises should be investigated to find out the underlying cause before it becomes worse and leads to a vehicle breakdown.
Don’t disregard strange smells
If you notice your car smells funny or different from usual, take heed. A burning smell emanating from your car is never a good thing. This could indicate an electrical issue. An oil leak will also cause a burning oil smell due to the fumes. You may also see smoke coming from the vehicle’s exhaust.
A sweet smell may sound pleasant, but coming from your car it’s not. This smell is the coolant and it can mean that you have a leak in the car’s heating system.
The odor of burned rubber indicates that you could have a loose belt that is close to breaking, and it should be replaced immediately.
If your brakes are under a lot of stress, it will smell like burned carpet. This can happen when driving in high altitude areas. It can also indicate that you have a dragging brake wearing down the brake pads.
Check under the hood
Look under the vehicle’s hood regularly to check for any issues. Check around the battery for any corrosion, which will appear as a colored green or white powder around the battery. Change the battery immediately if any signs of corrosion are present.
Check the oil dipstick to ensure the oil looks good. If the oil smells burnt, looks thick or lumpy, or has metal flakes in it, this needs to be investigated further before it causes an issue.
Always ensure the vehicle fluids are at a good level. Keep track of how often you’re putting in fluids, because a sure sign of a faulty engine is the vehicle using more fluid than it normally should. If you find yourself topping up the oil and coolant frequently, there could be a bigger issue. This includes fuel, as reduced fuel economy is another sign that your vehicle isn’t performing as it should.
Good maintenance is key
Taking care of your vehicle is important to ensure that it will continue to function properly. It may seem obvious, but we get busy and life can get in the way. Check your vehicle owner’s manual for recommendations on what maintenance to perform and when. Many vehicle breakdowns can be prevented by keeping the oil changed, getting tune ups, and ensuring that all the filters are replaced when needed. Continuing to operate a vehicle that has dirty or low oil, fouled spark plugs, or worn belts can lead to much bigger issues. The cost of keeping these components maintained is much lower than the cost of a major transmission or engine repair. You can always plan ahead for the cost of vehicle maintenance to help you save money in the long run.
Be prepared for anything
Even if your car is in great condition, it’s always a good idea to be prepared in case your car stops working and you become stranded. Keep an emergency kit in your car with water, energy bars, flares, and a flashlight with extra batteries.
Roadside assistance is an invaluable service. Many car insurance companies offer 24-hour roadside assistance along with your policy, so check with yours to see if this service is offered. Keep the phone number and any details regarding the roadside assistance plan in your car so that you’ll be able to use it when you need it. Some vehicle service plans will offer perks like roadside assistance. Uproar.car has you covered, because you’ll get free 24-hour roadside assistance with all of our Vehicle Repair Protection plans.
Uproar.car has created vehicle breakdown coverage that is simple, trustworthy and affordable. Transforming the extended car warranty marketplace through technology and transparency, Uproar.car offers a full suite of worry-free, no haggle car care plans through low-cost, 100% online, monthly subscriptions that drivers can sign up for in less than five minutes. Get an instant quote today!