Sensing Trouble: Using Your Senses to Notice Car Problems

Your senses are a great tool to begin pinpointing your car problems to help your technician diagnose the repair. Understanding the problem will help our experts fix the problem and get you back into your vehicle faster. Here are some ways to use your eyes, nose, and ears to begin troubleshooting car issues.

Seeing is Believing

Small drops are nothing major but a puddle could mean trouble. Checking the puddle will help determine what fluid could be leaking:

  • Antifreeze leak or overheated engine: yellow-green, pastel blue, fluorescent orange liquid. These could be a leaking hose, water pump, or radiator.
  • Engine oil: dark brown or black oily fluid. Could be caused by a bad seal or a gasket.
  • Transmission or power steering: red oily liquid.
  • No problem: water. Could be condensation from the air conditioner and nothing to worry about.

What’s That Smell?

Detecting odours can be a helpful tool in diagnosing vehicle issues. When you smell something funky, it’s best to investigate and/or take it to the experts for a professional diagnosis.

  • Burned toast: likely electrical short or insulation burning. It’s best not to drive it and get it diagnosed right away.
  • Rotten eggs: usually catalytic converter or devices that control emissions. Get this diagnosed immediately as well.
  • Thick pungent odour: burning oil. Check for a leak.
  • Fuel: If your car won’t start and you start to smell gasoline, you may have flooded the engine. Give it a few minutes and try again. If it still stinks, there could be a bigger problem like a fuel system leak and it needs to be inspected right away.
  • Burning resin or pungent chemical odour: overheated brakes or clutch. Stop. Check your parking brake or e-brake. If your brakes are lightly smoking, they could be stuck. Get it towed for repair to your nearest dealer.
  • Sweet stench possibly accompanied by steam: coolant leak. If your indicator lights are not warning you of your engine overheating, keep an eye on the gauges and drive to the nearest gas station or rest stop. If you notice a metallic scent in addition to heat and steam, your engine has overheated and needs to be serviced immediately to prevent further damage.

These are some of the most common smells, but if you notice anything out of the ordinary, give us a call and we will do our best to help you determine if it requires immediate attention.

All The Feels

In many cases, you can feel when there is a problem. In fact, there are many instances where you will feel a problem before you see it. Let’s go through some of the symptoms you can feel.

  • When you can feel your vehicle wandering or pulling to the left or right, your vehicle could be suffering from misaligned wheels, worn steering components, or underinflated tires (which will also damage your tires). An inspection is recommended.
  • Your brakes are pretty expressive when there’s an issue, but you can also feel problems. If your brake pedal sinks to the floor when you maintain pressure, you feel scraping, your vehicle pulls to the side when brakes are applied, or the obvious brake light on the dash lights up, you have a brake problem. Bring it in to get checked out.
  • When you’re driving around the city or on the highway, poor cornering can be a symptom of weak or worn suspension components. Unbalanced or improperly balanced tires can cause vibrations and premature steering wear.
  • Engine issues can be severe, it’s best to get any issues checked out right away to avoid expensive repairs or replacements. Some common engine symptoms include starting difficulty, poor acceleration and fuel economy, stalling or rough idling, excessive oil use, or the obvious “check engine” light is lit up on your dash. Any of these engine symptoms require a professional look.
  • Transmission failure could be something small like a hose or something big like an essential component. Transmission repairs can get expensive so we will look at the simple things first to see if there is a disconnection or plug. You’ll notice an issue with your transmission when there’s hard or abrupt shifts between gears, delay or lack of response when shifting from neutral, lack of shifting while accelerating, or if the engine speeds up but the vehicle doesn’t respond. Highly recommended to bring the vehicle immediately to our Service Department for a diagnosis.

Three out of five senses were covered in this blog, we’ve discussed common car noises previously, so check it out for a reminder. And lastly, we don’t recommend using your sense of taste to determine any car issues. That’s just a bad idea.

When you visit Capital GMC for any type of service, the work will not be done until you approve it. Any diagnosis will be indicated to you and you can let us know if you want it fixed right away by us or if you’d like to wait. If the issue is serious, we will offer our expertise and if you choose to have it fixed at Capital, we will do our best to resolve the issue. It’s important to note that on larger components, such as transmissions or engines, it may be cheaper and more effective to offer replacement instead of repair and we will indicate your options to you including cost.

If you’re interested in talking to one of our friendly Service Advisors about a concern with your vehicle or to book it in right away, give us a call at 306-525-5211 or click here to book online. We will confirm your appointment and ask for more details if necessary.

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