Owning a car is a significant responsibility that goes beyond merely filling up the tank and washing it occasionally. Regular maintenance and servicing are crucial to ensure that your vehicle runs smoothly and remains safe on the road. 

In this article, our team at Natrad Autocare will outline the warning signs that indicate your car is in desperate need of a service. We’ll explore proactive maintenance, how important it is to get your car regularly serviced, and tips for ensuring your vehicle remains in the best condition possible. 

How long can you go without servicing your car? 

While it's technically possible to go without servicing your car for an extended period, it's not advisable. Regular servicing is essential to maintain the longevity, performance, and safety of your vehicle. Neglecting maintenance can lead to a cascade of problems, potentially resulting in costly repairs or even a breakdown. 

Routine car servicing involves essential tasks such as oil changes, brake inspections, fluid checks, and component inspections that help identify and address issues early, preventing them from escalating into major problems. By sticking to a recommended maintenance schedule, you not only ensure that your car runs smoothly and efficiently but also save money in the long run by avoiding expensive and preventable repairs. 

Does my car need a service? - Signs to look out for 

Not sure if your car needs servicing? While regular logbook servicing usually tells us when to get our car serviced, there are still times when delaying it may lead to more complicated issues down the track. Therefore, it’s important to stay aware of the warning signs associated with your vehicle’s performance, and knowing when it’s time to service your car. 

Dashboard warning lights 

Modern cars come equipped with a range of dashboard warning lights that illuminate when something is amiss. These lights are your car's way of communicating with you about potential issues. 

Common dashboard warning lights include: the check engine light, the oil pressure warning, engine temperature, the battery warning, and the ABS (Anti-lock Braking System) warning. Ignoring these warning lights can result in severe damage to your vehicle and pose a safety risk.

Unusual noises 

Unusual noises coming from your car can be a clear indicator that something is wrong. Here are some common noises and what they might signify:

  • Squealing or squeaking when braking 
  • Grinding noise when shifting gears 
  • Hissing or whistling under the hood 
  • Knocking or pinging sounds from the engine 

Vibrations and shaking 

If you notice unusual vibrations or shaking when the engine is running or while driving, it's essential to address the issue promptly. These symptoms can be caused by several problems, such as unbalanced wheels, a misaligned suspension, or issues with your car's engine or transmission. Ignoring vibrations can lead to more severe problems over time.

Decreased fuel efficiency

A sudden drop in fuel efficiency can be a warning sign that your car needs attention. Reduced mileage can result from various issues, including a clogged air filter, malfunctioning oxygen sensor, or problems with the fuel delivery system. Getting your car serviced regularly can help identify and address these issues early, helping you protect your overall fuel economy.

Slow or inconsistent acceleration

If your car feels sluggish when accelerating or if there's a delay in response when you press the accelerator, it may indicate problems with the engine, transmission, or fuel system. This issue can compromise your car's performance and should not be ignored.

Fading brake performance

A noticeable decrease in your car's brake performance is a critical warning sign that your vehicle requires immediate servicing. If you find that your brakes are less responsive, take longer to bring your car to a stop, or if you hear unusual noises such as squealing or grinding when you apply the brakes, it's time to schedule a service appointment. 

Failing brakes pose a severe safety risk to you and other road users. Addressing this issue promptly will serve to prevent accidents and extensive brake system repairs.

Strange smells

Unusual odours in or around your car can be a sign of trouble. Pay attention to the following smells:

  • A sweet, syrupy odour - this could indicate a coolant leak. 
  • A burning smell - it might suggest overheating, an oil leak or an electrical problem. 
  • A rotten egg odour - this is often a sign of a malfunctioning catalytic converter. 
  • A musty or mouldy smell - this may indicate a problem with the air conditioning system.

Difficulty starting the engine 

If your car struggles to start or experiences prolonged cranking before it starts, it could be due to a weak battery, a faulty starter motor, or issues with the fuel system. Ignoring this warning sign may leave you stranded and require costly repairs.

Fluid leaks 

Keep an eye on your parking spot for any fluid leaks beneath your car. Different coloured fluids may indicate different problems: 

  • Red or pink fluid - transmission or power steering fluid leak.
  • Green or orange fluid - coolant or antifreeze leak. 
  • Brown or black fluid - oil leak.
  • Clear or brown fluid with a sweet smell - brake fluid leak. 

Steering and handling issues 

If you notice that your car pulls to one side while driving or the steering feels loose or unresponsive, it could indicate problems with the suspension, wheel alignment, or tyre issues. Proper steering and handling are critical for your safety on the road.

Warning signs from the owner’s manual 

One of the most overlooked sources of information about your car's maintenance needs is the owner's manual. It contains valuable guidance on when to perform specific services and what to look out for. Be sure to follow the manufacturer's recommended maintenance schedule to keep your car in top condition.

Get your car serviced by the professionals 

If you’re looking for a service centre that can handle all your car servicing needs, nip into your local Natrad Autocare. From changing your engine oil in a minor service to diagnosing problems, or conducting a major car service, we do it all.

You can count on us for efficient solutions, whether it’s a scheduled service or you’re looking for a quick fix.  We can also advise you on service intervals, so you know when it’s right to get your vehicle next serviced. At Natrad Autocare, the performance of your vehicle is our top priority.

For more information on car servicing and repairs, contact us today.