Blog Car Care Advice 12 Common Car Problems (And How You Can Solve Them)
Car Care Advice

12 Common Car Problems (And How You Can Solve Them)

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Having your car bail out on you on a busy morning, or driving with a shaking steering wheel is no fun. Car problems are something that every car owner will experience at one point or other.

Luckily we have suggestions for dealing with some general car problems.
This article explores 12 common car problems that may trouble you — and what you can do about them.

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Let’s roll. 

12 Common Car Problems and What You Can Do About It

From brake fluid leaks to bad spark plugs and tyre troubles, here are some common problems and their fixes:

1. Lit Check Engine Light

In modern cars, the engine control unit triggers the check engine light when car components malfunction, like a faulty catalytic converter, ignition coils, or spark plugs. This causes the check engine light to blink or stay on constantly. If it blinks and appears in red or yellow, you may have a serious issue.

How to Fix it:

The check engine light can come on for multiple reasons, ranging from an overheating cars engine to brake system issues. So it’s best to get help from a professional mechanic, diagnose the check engine light with an OBD II scanner and fix the problem accordingly. 

2. Dead Battery

Over time, the car battery slowly loses its natural ability to maintain a charge — leading to reduced electric current, eventually killing the battery. 

Other reasons for a dead car battery include:

Leaving your lights or air conditioning on for a long time can also drain your battery. 

How to Fix it:

You can revive a dead battery with the help of jumper cables and another car’s battery. But if your car battery doesn’t come back on even after you jump start it, you may need to get a new one. For a vehicle with manual transmission (common in older cars), you can try to push-start it. 

To avoid getting stranded, it’s best to get regular maintenance and replace your car battery after three years or 50,000 miles.

3. Alternator Failure

An alternator plays an essential role in running all electrical systems after you start your vehicle. It also helps supply enough electrical charge to replenish your car battery.

A bad alternator can:

How to Fix it:

Finding your car stalling with a lit check engine light and hearing strange sounds are some tell-tale signs of a bad alternator about to go out. 

It’s a good idea to get your car checked out by a mechanic before it fails completely. Your mechanic may use a digital ohmmeter to diagnose. If they get a reading below 12.65 volts, it could indicate alternator or car battery issues.

4. Broken Starter Motor  

The starter motor cranks up your car’s engine. So when the starter motor fails, you won’t be able to start your vehicle and may need to tow your car to the nearest auto repair shop.

How to Fix it:

Usually, a starter motor might malfunction when it receives low system voltage from the battery. In such cases, your mechanic may ensure your car battery, alternator, and cables work properly.

A starter motor can also go bad due to a damaged electrical solenoid or other electrical issues like a bad starter relay. As there can be many potential sources for a starter motor issue, it’s best to let a professional mechanic diagnose the problem. 

5. Flat Tire

A flat tire is a common problem, caused mainly by a puncture from sharp objects. In fact, nearly 7 tyre punctures occur every second in the United States. That being said, simple wear and tear can also cause a flat tire.

How to Fix it:

If you own a spare tire and know how to replace it, you can change the flat tire yourself. Alternatively, you can get it towed to the nearest auto repair shop or get hold of a mobile  mechanic. Depending on the puncture, they may fix it with a tire patch or replace your tires.

6. Uneven Wear on Tires

Although tires wear out over time, if you find your tire treads flattening out faster than normal or notice other symptoms, it could point to a potential problem. For instance, if vibrations in the steering wheel accompany uneven wear in tires, then your suspension may need alignment. 

Uneven tire pressure can also cause uneven tire wear across the different parts of the tire tread.

How to Fix it:

If the wear is severe, you’ll have to replace your tires.

To prevent uneven tyre wear and extend its lifespan, ensure you rotate your tires at proper intervals, and check the tire pressure and wheel alignment. Ideally, you should rotate your tires every 5,000 miles or when you get an oil change. 

7. Brakes Squeaking or Grinding

Sometimes, unusual brake noises like squeaking can be caused by something simple like overnight moisture or debris in your brake pads. 

A squeaking noise is usually caused by minor issues. But if your brakes start grinding, it indicates a severe problem that needs quick fixing. 

How to Fix it:

If the strange noises go away in a few hours or after some brake applications, it’s probably not a serious car issue. But if it lasts more than a day, you may need to consult an auto repair expert before a minor brake issue turns into a high repair costs issue.

8. Steering Wheel Shaking

If your steering wheel shakes immediately after you start your vehicle, damaged wheel bearings or suspension components may be the culprits. Wheel alignment and balancing problems can also cause your steering wheel to shake, especially at high speeds.

How to Fix it:

Here’s how a mechanic might solve the following shaking steering wheel issues:

9. Engine Overheating

Usually, engines overheat when something is wrong with the cooling system. Modern cars have a complex cooling system with multiple sensors to monitor coolant temperature, flow, and other components.

Coolant system issues, like coolant leaks, faulty radiator fans, or clogged coolant hoses, could result in overheating. 

How to Fix it:

Depending on what’s causing the engine problem, you may need to stop coolant leaks and fix or get a radiator fan, water pump, or thermostat replacement. To avoid such problems, you should get routine radiator flushes, change the water pump before it’s too late, and do regular car maintenance. 

10. Excessive Engine Oil Consumption

Of course, you need to top up your car with fresh engine oil regularly, but if you find yourself topping it more frequently than necessary — you may have an oil consumption problem at hand.

This may be caused by poor oil quality, broken seals, or worn-out piston rings.

How to Fix it:

If you don’t change your engine oil regularly, it can become sludge and make your vehicle work harder — leading to excessive oil consumption and reduced gas mileage. 

To prevent this, use good-quality oil and schedule regular maintenance.

You may have to get a mechanic to figure out the exact cause of the car issue. Your mechanic may check and replace the piston ring, head gasket, or seals, like the crankshaft seal, it they are broken. 

11. Slipping Automatic Transmission

The modern automatic transmission system consists of a head gasket, seals, and lines that can get damaged, blocked with debris, or leak transmission fluid. When such car problems happen, the transmission may not shift smoothly. 

Typically, an automatic transmission should last for around 200,000 miles if you stay on top of your car maintenance. 

How to Fix it:

Check your transmission fluid levels — if it’s low, you should top it off and look for leaks. 

Solenoid issues, clutch problems, broken transmission bands, etc., can also lead to a slipping transmission. You may need professional help to diagnose the right problem and fix it.

12. Sputtering Engine

For an engine to work best, air and fuel must mix and burn properly in the combustion chamber. Many fuel and ignition system parts, like ignition coils, work together to make this happen. 

A sputtering engine could mean you’re running out of fuel, or in worst-case scenarios, you have a lean fuel mixture in the combustion chamber. This may be caused by clogged fuel lines or bad filters. 

How to Fix it:

Your mechanic may clean, repair, or replace the following parts:

It’s best to get regular engine service to ensure all parts are working properly.

Final Thoughts

Whether it’s worn brake pads, a bad spark plug, or a complicated catalytic converter issue, it’s better to catch problems early before they lead to high repair costs.

And for best results, it’s important that you get it checked out by a reliable mechanic — AutoNation Mobile Service!

AutoNation Mobile Service is a mobile car repair and maintenance solution, available seven days a week. We offer upfront pricing, convenient online booking, and a 12-Month, 12,000-Mile warranty on all repairs.

Contact AutoNation Mobile Service if you have car troubles, or need to schedule regular maintenance or engine service — and our experts will be ready to deliver top-notch car repair right in your driveway!