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How to Tell When Your Car Needs a Service

Most of us rely on our vehicles almost daily. We need them to get to work and appointments, to take our children to school, and to return home again safely at the end of the day. We also need them on weekends, to take care of errands or to enjoy a vacation break. How do we make sure our cars and trucks run well so our lives run well too? Here are a dozen tips to help you keep your vehicle in excellent running order.

1. Be aware of preventative maintenance schedule. When you buy a new car, review the manual and make note of what regular services are recommended. Most dealerships will work with you to remind you of what is needed when, such as oil changes and overall inspections. If you own an older car, establishing a good working relationship with a local auto repair La Jolla shop can be a big help in knowing how your car should be maintained. Learn to check your own oil level and tires regularly.

2. Pay attention to indicator lights. Don't ignore indicator lights on your dashboard especially those that require immediate attention, such as Check Engine, Service Engine Soon, Add Oil, or vehicle is overheating. Continuing to drive too long after these lights go on could permanently damage your engine.

3. Don't ignore unusual noises. If your vehicle is running loudly, making too much noise overall, it probably needs a new muffler. A grinding noise could mean you need new brake pads or rotors. Squealing sounds can mean your vehicle needs a new belt or belts. Since belts provide power to steering, water pump or alternator, they should be replaced as soon as possible. Strange knocking or pinging noises can mean your car needs a routine tune-up or fuel injector inspection.

4. Your gas mileage suddenly drops. If you find yourself at the gas pump too often, it could mean that your car needs a tune-up. You could have a bad fuel injector, a dirty fuel filter, or a problem with spark plugs. 5. There are oil spots or green liquid under your car. If your car is losing oil, there is a leak that needs to be fixed, and right away. Your car cannot run without proper lubrication that oil provides. Radiator coolant is usually dyed green. If it is leaking, have your cooling system checked to avoid overheating and expensive repairs.

6. Your vehicle is slow to start or stalls. If your car is slow to start, it's possible that your battery or fuel pump are beginning to fail and need replacing. Your vehicle may also need a tune-up. If your vehicle starts to stall, it could also need a tune-up. Pay attention to when it stalls, for example, does it stall when your air conditioning is running, or when it's hot or cold? These details can help your mechanic diagnose and fix the problem more easily.

7. Your car is hard to steer and wobbly. If you are having a difficult time steering your car and the steering wheel is wobbly or vibrating, your car needs a wheel alignment or even new tires. Sometimes this can happen after you hit a pothole or curb. If you hear a squealing noise when you turn the steering wheel, your car could need a tune-up or fluid replacement.

8. Your car slips, doesn't grip the road. If your vehicle slips and slides when you turn corners, then most likely you need new tires.

9. The brake pedal goes down too easily or your vehicle moves with the handbrake on. A "mushy" brake pedal means that your car's brake fluid, brake pads or rotors need inspecting, adjusting and possibly replacing. You should take care of this right away to avoid the danger of being unable to stop your car. If your car continues to move after you've set the handbrake, chances are the handbrake needs adjusting or repair. Have this checked as soon as possible.

10. You see or smell excess exhaust fumes. Excessive exhaust could mean that your oil and oil filter need replacing, your car needs a tune-up, or your exhaust system needs inspection and repair.

11. You have difficulty seeing at night. If your headlights are not illuminating the road ahead at night so that you can see well, they may need adjusting or replacing.

12. You notice a jerking feeling when shifting. If your car jerks during shifting, it may need a new transmission filter and fluid. Have this checked quickly to avoid more serious damage or to see if the transmission itself needs repair.

For a complete list of all the available auto services that can help resolve any car problem that may be troubling you, whether you need to fix your engine or get a ding repaired, the local La Jolla auto services businesses listed with Blue Book are ready to help you care for your car.

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