If you own a car you probably already know some of the common car issues that come with it. Of course, you do, and you probably hate those moments too – because these issues usually pop up when you least expect. Do you do the repair work yourself or get someone else to do it? While getting a hired hand seems like an easy way out, you would need deep pockets to keep up.
It is a great idea to develop auto skills so you can join the DIY club; it saves time and resources. Read on to learn the how-tos.
Keep in mind that you will need a garage toolkit to perform most of these fixes, and be sure to wear appropriate safety gear before performing any of these activities. That said, let’s fix some common car issues!
Excess Oil Consumption
It is a common principle to change your car oil from time to time. Generally, the time frame should be around 3-4 months or after going 4,500 – 8000 kilometres. But if you find that you have to pour fresh oil more often than normal there’s a problem. A drop in performance is another sign of this car issue.
What to do?
Ensure you’re using the right type of oil as specified in the car manual, anything foreign would result in reduced lubrication, oil leaks, and will shorten engine lifespan. You should also change the oil filter during every oil change and tighten the bolts well.
Most times, excessive oil consumption is caused by a leakage so you’d have to trace it. You may need to Jack up the car to find the source and it could be anywhere from the engine (front or back), the oil pan beneath the engine, a loose oil filter bolt, etc. Once the source of the leakage is found, change the damaged part or seal it up as the case may require.
Uneven Tire Wear
Tires generally wear out with use and when they do, they can’t wear in. It’s worse when all four tires don’t wear out evenly. This causes poor handling and reduces overall car performance. Worse still, the worn-out tires would require a change before the other tires.
What to do?
What you can do is to rotate your tires by switching front tires to the back after every 8000 kilometres or so. An uneven tire could also be the result of misalignment. This requires a more hands-on approach if you decide to do it yourself. Getting a portable wheel alignment system should suffice here. Be sure to follow the instructions on the manual but it really is not a difficult process.
Tires also wear out unevenly when they’re over-inflated or under-inflated. For inflation, deflate the affected tires to the prescribed pounds per square inch given in the car user manual; and pump up the tires if it’s an under-inflation issue.
A dead battery is one of the most common car issues every car owner faces, and while it’s an unpleasant situation, it’s relatively easy to fix. Before we get to the solutions though, it is best practice to replace your car battery every 3 years for better performance. Also, testing your battery regularly using a multimeter will help you know if it’s still good or going to surprise you soon on the road.
What to do?
If – or should we say – when your battery fails on the road, you can use another car with a good battery to jump it “back to life”. This is done by attaching jumper cables to the terminals of both batteries and attaching an end to a metal part of the dead battery engine. Then you start the engine of the good battery for a few minutes and your battery should be working again.
If you find this method a little too much, there’s an easier workaround. Use portable jumper cables. You don’t need another car for this, just connect the cables to the appropriate terminals and turn on the portable jumper. But you should know how to do it right to avoid any safety issues. For a manual transmission car, you’d need to push-start it to get the battery back up.
A flat tire is one of those common car issues that mostly spring up when you least expect, so you have to be prepared at all times. You are prepared for this scenario if you have a spare tire, jack, and a lug wrench in your trunk. These are the tools you would need to fix a flat tire.
What to do?
To begin, park on one side of the road (preferably on a flat surface), turn your hazard lights on, apply the handbrake and ensure the car is in park. Now follow the following steps to correctly swap a flat tire:
- Take off the hubcap (the disk covering the central part of the wheel) and loosen the lug nuts with the wrench, but not totally.
- Now place the jack under the vehicle, close to the tire. It’s a good idea to refer to the car owner’s manual to discover the jacking point.
- Get the car at a comfortable height above the ground, remove the nuts, and install the spare tire by mounting them on the lug bolts.
- It’s precautionary to place the flat tire under the car while installing the spare tire.
- Now attach affix the lug nuts back on the spare tire and tighten them a little by hand.
- Lower the jack and finish tightening the lug nuts, this time with the aid of a wrench.
- Then reattach the hubcap and you can be on your way
Faulty Spark Plugs
Dwindling gas mileage, a misfiring engine, throttled acceleration, are some of the effects of a bad spark plug. Once you determine that your spark plug is the culprit, fixing it is a walk in the park. To avoid situations like this, however, you should heed the manufacturer’s advice and replace the spark plug after reaching the specified car mileage.
What to do?
To replace it, open the hood of your car and locate the spark plugs. Remove the spark plug wires and anything that might impede the replacement process. Use the spark plug socket to unscrew and remove the plugs, then apply copper grease on the threads of the new plugs to help prevent corrosion and seizing.
Now screw the plugs in and use a torque wrench to fasten them in till they match the specifications highlighted in your car owner’s manual. Don’t forget to connect the spark plug cables again to the new set of plugs.
When you turn the key in the ignition your battery supplies the charge that starts the car, and after that, the alternator takes up the baton and keeps the car running. A failing alternator will speed up the decline in battery performance, make headlights flicker and dim, and affect other systems in your car that are powered by the alternator; talk about the radio, AC, dashboard lights, and others.
What to do?
To fix this common car issue, begin by removing the battery cables and the wires connected to the alternator. Then remove the serpentine belt (otherwise called the alternator belts), and finally remove the alternator bolts.
It’s a good idea to separate the bolts as a way to remember where each was taken from because they are of different lengths. When this is done, you can now install the replacement alternator and reverse the process to finish up your work. Congratulate yourself because you’ve just saved about CA $90 on this.
Dwindling Gas Mileage
A car that inordinately consumes gas signals a problem with the engine. If you do not tackle this common car issue head-on it would only get worse and that means more money out of your pocket for top-ups. Falling gas mileage is caused by irregular engine maintenance which includes replacing the oil filter, changing the oil when due, replacing worn-out spark plugs and engine filters, and a number of other things.
What to do?
Generally, routine engine servicing will help prevent and keep your gas mileage at the normal levels and also resolve any other issues.
Headlights Go Out
Those light bulbs won’t stay on forever, a time will come when they just die a natural death. But certain driving and maintenance habits can make them lose their shine early on. When they do, it’s really easy to fix them in less than 30 minutes.
What to do?
The headache lies in finding the appropriate replacement bulbs, and yes both bulbs should be replaced at the same time regardless of which one goes out first. Refer to the car manual to get information on the type of bulb to buy and when you’re ready, have with you a screwdriver with 4 different tips and a wrench set.
Make sure the car engine is off, open the hood and reach for the headlight bulb through the engine compartment. you will find a metal clip holding the bulb in place, release it and remove the old bulb. Now check that the replacement bulb matches the old one, and if it does, go ahead to put it in place. Cover up and you’re done.
As long as you own a car, even if you don’t drive it, these common car issues will come up. It helps to develop auto repair skills as they will save you money and frequent visits to a mechanic. Bookmark this page and always refer to it whenever you have a need to fix a malfunction, and the more you do the repairs yourself the better you get at it.