ATC Blog

5 Ways to Diagnose your Vehicle: What to Check and How to Check it

Being able to diagnose a problem with your car is a helpful skill that can give you leverage when you take your car to the mechanic’s shop. Knowing exactly what’s wrong will help with figuring out what needs to be done to fix the problem and estimate the price for repairing it.

Here are five problems you can diagnose in your car:

Look for leaks

Leaky fluid could just be water coming from your air conditioning unit, but depending on the color of the fluid, it could mean a variety of problems. Clear, slippery fluid means your brake fluids are leaking. Green, brown, or yellow liquid probably means your coolant is leaking. If your car is leaking a dark red fluid, it’s probably coming from your transmission or it’s power steering fluid. Black or amber liquid is mostly likely engine or gear oil.

Listen for screeches

Screeches are hard to miss, but it’s important to decipher when they occur to properly diagnose the problem. Screeching when you slow down means you have worn brake pads. Screeching when you accelerate is a sign that you might need a new fan belt. If you notice screeching when you’re making turns, you need an adjustment to your power steering belt.

Pay attention to how your brakes feel

Your brakes are some of the most important parts of your car, and any time you notice something wrong with them, you should immediately check them out. If your brake pedal feels springy instead of solid when you push it down, it’s likely that air got into your brake lines and they need to be bled. If your brakes vibrate or pulsate when you apply them and you don’t have an ABS, they your brake discs could be damaged.

Don’t ignore your battery¬†

Battery problems can be dangerous for your car and your health. If your battery has white powder on the outside, your alternator is overcharging your battery, and your car needs to be taken to a mechanic. The same urgency needs to be taken into account if you notice that the bulbs in your car keep blowing out. This means your alternator voltage is set too high, and your battery could be giving off dangerous hydrogen gas.

Check for Smoke

Smoke can mean several different things depending on where it’s coming from and what it looks like. Black smoke from your tailpipe means your fuel calibration is off, blue smoke means your car is burning too much oil, and white smoke means your coolant is leaking. Smoke coming out from under your hood most likely means one of your radiator hoses is cracked, but make sure you let your car cool down before you pop the hood and check.

Knowing what problems to look for when driving your car will help you diagnose issues and get your car fixed before it’s too late.

For more information on car problems or to sign up for class, contact Automotive Training Center.

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