Cars are very complex machines and from time to time things go wrong. Problems with cars don’t often fix themselves either and get worse with times. So here are a few common symptoms and the most likely diagnosis so you can describe the problem better to your mechanic.
After prolonged idle periods in traffic my vehicle emits clouds of blue smoke. What is the problem?
Blue smoke is usually caused by engine oil getting into the cylinder and burning. Possible causes range from valve stem seals to a more serious broken piston ring. Either way workshop diagnosis would be required.
My brake pedal is vibrating/pulsating when I apply the brakes. Why?
The brake discs/drums are most likely damaged or warped and will need to be machined or replaced if necessary.
I am driving my car normally, but it feels like it has much less power. Why is this?
This is mostly due to faulty ignition timing or there might be a vacuum leak at the intake.
After my engine has warmed up, the car stalls whenever I come to rest and I have to start the motor again. What could be the problem?
It is most likely that your idle speed is set too low or not properly set and will need to be adjusted. Otherwise Look for a vacuum leak at the intake. For older cars, the carburettor may be flooding, or the points could be worn or not properly set.
When trying to start my car, nothing happens but the headlights are bright as normal. Why won’t the car start?
Firstly, if your car is an automatic, make sure the vehicle is in park or neutral. Otherwise, you may have a problem with your Ignition switch, starter motor or the starter motor solenoid. In most cases, the faulty component will need replacement.
Droplets of water are coming from my exhaust tailpipe when the engine is running at normal temperature. Is there anything wrong with this?
Unfortunately, there most likely is a problem. You could have a blown head gasket or a cracked or warped head. This is usually an expensive repair and will need to be done by a qualified mechanic.
My engine check light comes on intermittently. Is there a problem with my on-board computer?
Have the computer codes checked to determine the cause of the check light coming on. The computer will log the fault and keep it in the memory data section.
My engine is running rough and is shaking badly at idle speeds. What can be the problem?
This is generally the symptom of one or more cylinder not firing. This is most likely a problem with the ignition system such as a broken lead or faulty spark plug.
My engine won't start but the radio works. When I put the headlights on they are dull. Why?
This sounds like a battery problem. Check the battery posts for corrosion. Failing this, have the battery tested. (put a link to RACV battery here)
I turned my heater on this morning to warm up inside the car but the fan does not work. Why?
You may have a faulty or broken wiring connection in the heater circuit, a blown fuse or dirty fuse holder, faulty switch or a faulty fan motor. Seek advice from an auto electrician.
I hear a grinding/knocking noise coming from the front of my car when I am turning corners. Why?
If your car is front-wheel drive, your CV joints may be worn. If your car is rear-wheel drive, you may have a steering or suspension problem and you will need a repairer to check this.
My heater only blows cold or cool air into the cabin. What could the problem be?
The thermostat may be stuck open so the water in the radiator does not reach a warm operating temperature. Also, the heater core may be blocked and will need to be checked by a specialist.
There is a heavy knocking noise coming from the engine at certain speeds and when I accelerate. What is the problem?
The big end bearings inside the motor could be worn and will need to be replaced. The engine will need to be inspected by a qualified motor mechanic.
My indicator, stop lights and headlights bulbs are constantly blowing. Why does this happen?
The alternator voltage is too high, and an auto electrician will need to repair this.
When I rev up the engine there is a loud squeaking noise. This is worse when the engine is cold. Why?
This sounds like a slipping belt drive on the engine. Have a mechanic check the tension of all the belts.
The outside edges on my tyres are much more worn out than the centre. What causes this?
Either your tyre pressures are too low or the wheel alignment is not correct. Check that the tyre pressures are correct, otherwise you will need to have a wheel alignment done.
I recently had a wheel alignment and all tyres balanced but, on the freeway at 100km/h, I can feel vibration at the steering wheel. Why?
Have the tyres checked for run out (run out is a measure of how round the wheel is); it is not possible to balance an out of round tyre.