Diagnosing common car symptoms

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

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ALTHOUGH women are usually good at detecting what is wrong with a sick child, and often have a remedy for it, many of us begin to panic the moment our cars become sick. This fear and uncertainty of what's happening under the hood has caused many women to run to car service centres for simple problems that they could probably have fixed by themselves, or prevented in the first place.

Auto mechanic Humphrey Dempster helps us to identify some common symptoms that car owners are likely to come across, and gives prescriptions for remedying them.

YOUR CAR WON'T START

Likely cause: Your car battery is dead

If your engine cranks up when you turn your key, but nothing happens after that, the most likely culprit is your battery. It might be caused by something else, like your starter, but this can be investigated afterwards. The immediate solution would be to try to get a jump-start if you are on the road, and do some investigations at home, such as testing with another car battery.

YOU NOTICE STEAM OR SMOKE COMING FROM YOUR BONNET

Likely cause: Your engine is overheating

Check the engine temperature gauge to confirm this. Your engine may simply need some more coolant,which you can refill by yourself. If it just runs out again, or this does not bring the temperature down, it might be that you have a leak or your radiator fan is not working, which would need to be checked out by a mechanic.

SCREECHING BRAKES

Likely cause: Your brake pads are worn down, or loose

You might want to have these changed by a professional, as they can be a bit tricky to do on your own. A certified technician will also detect if it is something else that is causing your noisy brakes, such as dust in the brake drum.

THE CAR FEELS SUDDENLY UNSTEADY AND UNEVEN

Likely cause: You need to change a tyre, or four

You might have a slow-leaking tyre which needs to be changed, or one or more of your tyres might be uneven. You can check the pressure distribution in your tyres with a tyre pressure gauge. Also ensure to change tyres as soon as they are worn to the indicator.

YOU SMELL SULPHUR OR ROTTEN EGGS

Likely cause: You either have a leak, or your filter needs changing

Leaks become more likely as the car gets older and the metals start to oxidise. A leak could be anywhere in the system, and it's potentially dangerous, so it's best to get out of the car and call a professional as soon as you can. It could also be that either your fuel filter or converter need to be changed.

— Candiece Knight


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