It tends to be nothing short of a living nightmare whenever a car develops a problem – most issues aren’t particularly cheap to fix and we always need our cars to be working so we can get around easily. Doing the school run and getting to and from work suddenly becomes a lot more difficult when our main (and usually only) form of personal transport is in the garage.
The key is often in identifying problems as soon as symptoms occur, but it can be difficult to identify a symptom as indicative of a major problem if it doesn’t immediately hinder the driving of the car. Here are some symptoms you might spot but not think anything of – you should act quickly to prevent and resolve the issues that they will lead to, though.
Why does my car windscreen keep misting up on the inside?
The most common cause of car windscreens misting up on the inside is coolant being drawn up through a leak in the heater matrix when the in-car heating is turned on. This turns into condensation which mists up the windscreen and can cause damp patches in the footwells.
The best way to fix this is to apply a sealing solution to the engine coolant – this should find the leak in the system and seal it, resolving the problem.
Why can I hear squealing when I apply the brakes?
A squealing sound when you press the brakes too hard is not uncommon, but the more regularly you hear it, the more likely it is that the brake pads are beginning to wear out. This is obviously dangerous if left unchecked, and a mechanic should be able to get underneath the car and identify the issue fairly quickly.
If you want to replace the pads yourself, the main challenge is taking off and replacing the callipers that hold the pads in place. After the callipers have been removed, use a c-clamp to compress the piston onto the calliper but be careful not to push the seal back in unevenly. This is also a good opportunity to check the rotors to see if they’re damaged enough to need replacing. After that, it’s a simple task to replace the pads and put the callipers back in place.
Why is there a puddle under the car?
A puddle of fluid under the car can mean only one thing: an engine leak. There are a number of different fluids that could be leaking from the engine and internal works of the car and leaving a puddle on your driveway. From oil and petrol to brake fluid and even ordinary water, the first step is to identify the leaking fluid and deal with it from there.
Catching the leaks early reduces the chances of the car being adversely affected by them – you can usually drive the car to the garage so that a mechanic can look at it, unless you suspect that the leak is brake fluid, in which case you should have it towed.
Why is white smoke coming from the exhaust?
White smoke exiting the exhaust can be either completely innocent or quite serious, depending on when you see it. White smoke is often expelled when the car is started up on colder mornings, but this is just condensation-caused steam. Excessive white smoke that is present after the engine has warmed up, on the other hand, is usually a sign of an internal coolant leak that only a sealing solution and the addition of replacement coolant will be able to sort out.
Why is blue smoke coming from the exhaust?
If blue smoke is being expelled from the exhaust, this usually means that the engine is burning oil in addition to fuel. This is usually due to piston heads becoming worn out and letting oil into the combustion chamber.
The issue can be rectified but tends to be expensive as it involves the replacement of a few internal parts. If it’s worth doing so, the car can be kept ticking along with regular oil top-ups.