Even though we often take them for granted, there's no denying that cars are very complicated pieces of machinery. There are so many systems and bits of equipment under the hood it can boggle the mind of the less mechanically inclined motorist. While the inner workings of your vehicle may stymie and confuse you, the good news is you don't have to be a mechanic to notice when things are going wrong. Your car will talk to you, and if you know what to listen for, some of these common indicators can alert you to potentially more severe maintenance problems.
Check engine light
The most notorious auto indicator is also probably one of the most poorly understood. This concerning orange light can be triggered by any number of things, and as a result, many people end up driving around with this light on for months. It can point to a variety of potential issues, and while some of them are fairly simple fixes, they all warrant immediate attention to prevent further complications.
If you're lucky, the check engine light could just be trying to tell you that your gas cap is loose – if this is the case, fixing it won't cost you more than a few seconds of your time. Of course, as AutoTrader.com noted, it could also represent anything from a problem with a spark plug to a damaged catalytic converter, which can be serious.
The next time you roll up to a stop sign, take a quick listen. If you hear a squeak when you hit the brakes, that's a bad sign. It's not mice in your car, it's actually indicative of worn-out brake pads. This can reduce your brakes' effectiveness, which is a major safety concern. Once the squeaking upgrades to a more ominous grinding sound, you should head to the mechanic's shop immediately – your car isn't safe to drive.
A bouncy ride
Those who live in an area with poorly paved roads may notice their car dipping and tilting when they brake, accelerate or turn. Far from normal, this can be an indication that your shocks are on their way out. Your shocks absorb and dissipate the impact of driving, protecting your suspension from warping and improving your car's handling ability. When they wear out, your car's suspension can often follow it, which can have a big impact on its handling.
If your car needs maintenance, make an appointment with the NJ State Auto Auction Total Car Care Center. The skilled mechanics can help diagnose car problems and expertly perform maintenance needed to keep your ride on the road.