Car Care in Frederick, MD

Signs & Symptoms of Trouble--Superior Auto Service Center

The more you know about your vehicle, the more likely you’ll be able to recognize an issue or deteriorating condition before it becomes a problem. You can detect common vehicle problems by using your senses: visually checking out the area around and under your vehicle, listening for strange noises, smelling unusual odors and feeling a difference in handling or performance.

This list is for basic information use only, not a means of diagnosis.

If you notice your vehicle is showing one or more of the symptoms below OR any other abnormal condition not listed, we recommend having it checked by one of our ASE Certified Expert Technicians immediately.

Smells Like Trouble

Some problems are right under your nose. You can detect them by odor.

Burnt toast like smell (a light, sharp odor) often indicates an electrical short and burning insulation. To be safe, try not to drive the vehicle until the problem is diagnosed.

Rotten eggs type smell (a continuous burning-sulphur smell) may mean there is a problem with the catalytic converter or other emission control devices. Don’t delay diagnosis and repair.

Thick acrid odor can mean oil is being burnt. Look for signs of an oil leak.

Burning resin or acrid chemical like smell may signal overheated brakes or clutch. Check to ensure the parking brake is not engaged. STOP. Allow the brakes to cool after repeated hard braking on mountain roads. Light smoke coming from a wheel indicates a stuck brake. This vehicle should be towed for repair.

Looks Like Trouble

Small stains or an occasional drop of fluid under your vehicle don’t mean much, but wet spots deserve attention; check puddles immediately. You can identify fluids by their color and consistency:

Yellowish green, pastel blue or florescent orange colors indicate an overheated engine or an anti-freeze leak caused by a bad hose, water pump or leaking radiator.

Dark brown or black oily fluid means the engine is leaking oil. A bad seal or gasket could cause the engine to leak.

Red oily spot indicates a transmission or power steering fluid leak, often times from a seal or worn out power steering gear.

A puddle of clear water is usually no problem. It may be nothing more than condensation from your vehicle’s air conditioner.

Sounds Like Trouble

Squeaks, rattles, knocks, and other noises are usually clues to problems and maintenance needs.
Common malfunctions can be identified by the sound they make:

Squeal – shrill, sharp noise, usually related to engine speed commonly indicates loose or worn power steering, fan or air conditioning belt. Have a mechanic check to ensure belts are serviceable and properly installed.

Click – slight, sharp, rhythmic sound that increases with engine or vehicle speed is most commonly a loose wheel cover, bent cooling fan blade, stuck engine valve lifter or low engine oil. Be safe, get it checked.

Screech – high pitched, piercing metallic sound that occurs while vehicle is in motion and is more pronounced when applying brakes is probably brake wear indicators telling you to replace your brake pads.

Rumble – low-pitched rhythmic sound is most likely a defective exhaust pipe, catalytic converter or muffler.
It could also be a worn universal joint or other drive line component. This should be checked ASAP.

Feels Like Trouble

Difficult handling, a rough ride, vibration and poor performance are symptoms that almost always indicate
a problem:

Wandering, pulling to one side or difficulty steering can be an indication of misaligned front wheels and/or worn out steering components.

Poor cornering, vibration or rough over bumpy roads is most likely worn out suspension, like shocks and struts. While it may not feel like a big deal, worn out shocks and struts can pose a serious safety hazard.

Pulls to one side, brake pedal sinks to the floor, feel grinding or the brake pedal pushing back rhythmically with wheel speed means the brakes are worn out or malfunctioning. Do not delay getting the braking system inspected by a certified technician.

Difficulty starting, rough idling, stalling or poor acceleration are symptoms of engine trouble. Occasionally the “check engine light” will come on, whether it does or not, get these symptoms diagnosed and repaired immediately.

Abrupt or hard shifts, delayed or no response when shifting from neutral to drive or reverse, and failure to shift during normal acceleration often times indicates a transmission malfunction. This could be an actual component failure or a simple disconnected hose or sludge in the transmission fluid. Have Superior check it out immediately.

The safest bet is to give us a call, make an appointment online, or stop by if you notice your vehicle behaving abnormally, even if it’s nothing serious, better to be safe than sorry.