Avoiding Holiday Automotive Catastrophe

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santas ride

One word that can best describe the Holiday season is hectic. Between gifts, parties, and food, there is always something to be done and only you to do it. With so many things to do and time dwindling away, your vehicle is more important to you right now than ever. I mean, the last thing that you need is to face a catastrophic auto repair that could cost you thousands and (worse yet) separate you and your car for an extended period of time. Luckily, there are a few simple tools that you can use to avoid that last minute catastrophic Holiday auto repair.

  • Open your eyes; being more observant to things going on in and around your vehicle could help you to detect a small malfunction before it becomes a major catastrophe. A small puddle of oil underneath the engine could just be a loose oil drain plug, but left unattended it could result in a costly engine knock. The same is true of a small pool of coolant. What could be rectified by tightening a small hose clamp, now, could result in a cylinder head gasket job that costs thousands of dollars later. Open your hood periodically for a quick visual inspection. Check all of your fluid levels, inspect your drive belts, and take a quick look at coolant and vacuum hoses while you are at it.
  • Use your ears; abnormal sounds coming from your vehicle should be looked at as warning signals of impending doom. Front wheel drive vehicles often exhibit clacking sounds, when accelerating and turning the steering wheel, when a constant-velocity axle is at fault. Scheduling an appointment for a simple axle replacement is easier and less time consuming than if you allow the axle to break and you are stranded on the highway (waiting for a tow truck). A power steering pump that is low on fluid makes an unmistakable whining noise, alerting the driver to a condition that could prove catastrophic for the power steering pump if left unattended. Listen up and address strange noises promptly while they can be repaired economically.
  • Do you smell that? Your nose knows if there are strange smells permeating from your precious vehicle and it will let you know (if you let it). Never ignore abnormal odors and trust your natural instincts, especially when it comes to your car. After all, nobody knows it better than you. The sweet stench of antifreeze inside the cab of your truck can point to a leaky heater core, months before it drains completely into your carpeting.
  • Don’t deny your feelings; often ignored but never overlooked, strange vibrations from your ride may be pointing to more serious problems that can potentially be avoided. As a rule; vibrations that are felt in the steering wheel are located near the front axle and ones that are felt in the floorboard and seating are coming from the rear-end. A vibration could be something as harmless as an out of balance tire or as alarming as a bad universal joint.
S.M. Darby

S.M. Darby

I am a freelance author with over 25 years of experience as a professional, ASE certified automotive technician and shop owner, muscle car enthusiast, avid street racer, and classic car restoration specialist.