The Big Bang Theory’s Penny may be endearing, but chronically ignoring your check engine light is just one of the few things you shouldn’t do. Vehicles are complex machines more so than every with constantly upgraded electronics and (soon) auto drive options. Any time you notice something “off” about your car, take it to your trusted mechanic. There’s only so much complaining a vehicle can do, if at all, before it gives up.
From addressing that chip in your windshield to noticing when your car starts to favor a certain side of the road, it’s tossing up all kinds of red flags. However, the best way to avoid a major disaster is to take it in for regularly scheduled maintenance two to four times per year. Here are some of the biggest issues that often come with warning signs:
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It’s an automatic but seems to have trouble shifting
Obviously this is true of a manual vehicle, too, but many people with automatics think that shifting problems can’t happen to them. Remember that your car shifts (or is supposed to) “automatically”, so it’s indeed shifting gears. This is often a sign that something’s amiss with the transmission, but don’t avoid the mechanic for fear of a high price. It could be something as simple as a worn out cable that’s a very affordable fix (as long as you don’t let it damage the actual transmission).
A strange smell
Whether you think it smells like gas or something’s just weird about it, don’t gamble with this kind of sign. A car can emit all kinds of smells, some of them great according to CBS but still toxic, and you know your ride best. A smell is an obvious sign of a leak, and that can lead to all kinds of danger.
It struggles to start
There are certain times you can blame the cold weather, especially if you have a vintage car, but for the most part this should be a simple and seamless task your car can do. If it’s getting tougher and tougher to start each day, it’s letting you know it might not be up for the challenge tomorrow. Get it taken care of before you get stranded.
Most importantly, make sure you have a good mechanic in your corner. To start your research, follow this tip from Lifehacker and make sure they’re on the up and up.