Just as you show the symptoms of being too sick to go to work; your vehicle has a few ways of letting you know when it`s not fit for the road. The answer is to keep your eyes, ears, nose -- and hands open in order to find out if you own a non-roadworthy car.
Look out regularly for oil leaks or any other type of leak. It could be a leak from your coolant, engine oil, and brake or transmission fluid. It`s not worth ignoring leaks because lack of fluids can really damage your engine. Leaks can also be a sign of other big problems with, say, your brakes.
Always check for faulty lights. Sometimes you can`t do this on your own. Get your friend, partner or other friendly folk to check the headlights, front and rear parking lights, indicators, brake and reversing lights. Lights are small things, but your vehicle is not roadworthy unless they work.
Last, you need to check your screen (and we don`t mean your cellphone). Your windshield should be free of all damage including cracks, chips, scratches or any strange colours. It`s even more important that the area in front of you, the driver, is clear. Windshield wipers and washers must be working. Who has driven with a dusty windshield because they`ve run out of water?
You need to have well trained ears to know what you`re listening for. Usually if your brakes are squeaking, it`s time for new brake pads. The sound you hear is the exposed metal tab rubbing on the brake rotor. The longer you wait to replace the brake pads, the louder the noise and the worse your ability to brake. Chirping or squeaking is usually a problem with brakes; squealing comes from the engine and could be the belt.
Listen for squealing drive belts and timing belts. If there`s a squealing or chirping noise under the hood, the timing belt may be worn down.
If you smell smoke, there`s definitely a problem. The most common reasons are fluids leaking and burning on hot surfaces, electrical problems or a brake caliper that has seized. Smelling any kind of smoke while driving is serious – you don`t want your car to catch fire.
Another bad smell can come from your exhaust. If your exhaust is stinky, it could be a failure of the catalytic converter or the wrong air/fuel mixture.
Roadworthy vehicles always have good tires. This is because worn or damaged tires can`t keep a grip on the road. Check the condition of the tire and sidewalls, and make sure they have the recommended tread and air pressure. Tires are the only thing between you and your automobile -- and the highway.
Seatbelts must be working well. If they are worn, don`t spring back properly, or don`t clasp neatly round your precious body, it`s a roadworthy problem.
Finally, it sounds obvious but, if you`ve had an accident in the car there may be things you fixed temporarily. Perhaps you put the wing mirror back on with sticky tape. It`s time to get that fixed.
Some states do ask you to have a regular vehicle check each year. Meanwhile, checking it regularly yourself will help you become more familiar with how it works. But if your car keeps breaking down, perhaps you`ve bought a lemon. Greenslips.com.au explains how that could leave a nasty taste in your mouth!