Feels Like Trouble
The more you know about your vehicle, the more likely you'll be able to head off repair problems. You can detect many common vehicle problems by using your senses: eyeballing the area around your vehicle, listening for strange noises, sensing a difference in the way your vehicle handles, or even noticing unusual odors.
Trouble To Look And Feel For:
Difficult handling, a rough ride, vibration and poor performance are symptoms you can feel. They almost always indicate a problem.
Misaligned front wheels and/or worn steering components, such as the idler or ball joint, can cause wandering or difficulty steering in a straight line. Pulling - the vehicle's tendency to steer to the left or right - can be caused by something as routine as under-inflated tires, or as serious as a damaged or misaligned front end.
Ride and Handling
Worn shock absorbers or other suspension components - or improper tire inflation - can contribute to poor cornering.
While there is no hard and fast rule about when to replace shock absorbers or struts, try this test: bounce the vehicle up and down hard at each wheel and then let go. See how many times the vehicle bounces. Weak shocks will allow the vehicle to bounce twice or more.
Springs do not normally wear out and do not need replacement unless one corner of the vehicle is lower than the others. Overloading your vehicle can damage the springs.
Balance tires properly. An unbalanced or improperly balanced tire causes a vehicle to vibrate and may wear steering and suspension components prematurely.
Brake problems have several symptoms. Schedule diagnosis and repair if:
The vehicle pulls to one side when the brakes are applied.
The brake pedal sinks to the floor when pressure is maintained.
You hear or feel scraping or grinding during braking.
The "brake" light on the instrument panel is lit.
The following symptoms indicate engine trouble. Get a diagnosis and schedule the repair.
Difficulty starting the engine.
The "check engine" light on the instrument panel is lit.
Rough idling or stalling.
Poor fuel economy.
Excessive oil use (more than one quart between changes).
Engine continues running after the key is removed.
Poor transmission performance may come from actual component failure or a simple disconnected hose or plugged filter. Make sure the technician checks the simple items first; transmission repairs normally are expensive. Some of the most common symptoms of transmission problems are:
Abrupt or hard shifts between gears. Delayed or no response when shifting from neutral to drive or reverse. Failure to shift during normal acceleration.
Slippage during acceleration. The engine speeds up, but the vehicle does not respond.