Joe Carbon is a former driving instructor and crew chief for the internationally renowned Skip Barber Racing School and current kart and motorcycle racer. His automotive repair company, “Good Old-Fashioned Auto Repair”, in Mooresville, North Carolina pairs his over 40+ years of automotive service and repair experience with well over 3 million miles of driving experience in all types of vehicles. Joe's insight from road and track will help you stay safe on your “road of life”.
Using your senses-eyes, ears, nose, and feel, could help you to detect a problem early possibly avoiding or minimizing an expensive automobile repair during the Holiday season.
Look at your vehicle as you approach it for use. Are there any puddles or spots underneath?
Visually inspect the under carriage for leaks or hanging components (be sure to include brake backing plates).
Visually inspect under the hood for the presence of fluids along with frayed belts and nicked, cracked, or distorted hoses.
Visually inspect tire tread for gouges and uneven wear, check tire sidewalls for cracks and gouges.
Check air pressure in tires.
Visually inspect the front wheels for excessive brake dust on either side. This could indicate accelerated brake wear and a potential brake malfunction.
Turn all exterior lights on and inspect them, replace bulbs as necessary. Don’t forget the brake lights and reverse lights.
Check all fluids and add the specified fluid as required.
Listen closely to your engine at start-up. Do you hear any strange noises? Engine knocks or ticks? If so, shut the engine off immediately and check the engine oil level. A ticking or whining transmission can also be the result of a low fluid condition.
Do you hear any hissing or bubbling noises from under the hood, particularly once the engine is warmed up? This can indicate an engine overheating condition.
Do you hear squealing upon braking? Do you hear a squeaking while driving that increases with vehicle speed? Do you hear a clicking, mostly while making tight turns (front wheel drive only)?
A sensitive nose is a powerful tool. Do you smell engine oil burning from dripping on a hot exhaust? It emits a very offensive odor. Do you smell differential gear lube burning? This is a noticeably different smell from engine oil. Do you smell antifreeze leaking on a hot engine? It emits a sickly sweet odor.
Do you feel vibrations, pops, clunks, or jerks? Do they change with speed, turning, braking, or acceleration? Do they happen consistently under any of these conditions or are they intermittent? Does weather and/or temperature affect when they happen? These can start small but worsen quickly, especially in colder weather as metals respond to different temperature conditions. Quite often, they can be accompanied by various noises. Pay close attention to these things when operating your vehicle.
SO USE YOUR AUTO SENSE. IT WILL SAVE YOU DOLLARS, AND MAYBE YOUR HOLIDAY!