The six most frequent car problems you could have
If you’re driving to school or work and you need to be on time, the last thing you want is your vehicle giving out on you, particularly during the winter. Knowing more about your vehicle is always a good idea, and it’s knowledge that can lead to a valuable career. As one of Canada’s largest transportation technology schools, Centennial College has a wealth of automotive programs that offer you the practical experience to enter the industry, often through apprenticeship programs that put you in the field working in an auto shop, learning from the professionals as you earn an income. These include Automotive Service programs that specialize in Toyota, General Motors, Ford and Honda vehicles, as well as one in partnership with Canadian Tire. No matter the stream you go with, you can become the expert that people turn to when issues with their vehicles arise. Here are the ones that pop up most often, according to sites like Autos.com, Fiix and Warrantywise.
1. A Bad Battery
If you’re having trouble starting your car (and it may not be because the weather’s 20 below zero) and your car’s clock and radio presets frequently get wiped out, you may have battery problems that could lead to a dead silent engine. The important thing is to be prepared with a set of jumper cables, so that if your battery dies, another car can give you a boost that you will use to drive straight into a service centre (a portable battery booster will do the same thing without the need for a second car). Sadly, there’s nothing you can do with a bad battery except get a new one. Auto batteries typically last about five years. If yours is older, you should consider replacing it before you get stuck.
2. Ignition coils and spark plugs
Ignition coils and spark plugs are other components that often need replacement on older vehicles. Spark plugs are so named because they literally send sparks into the combustion chamber and ignite the fuel that powers your engine. Worn-out spark plugs can cause stalling and poor acceleration, so if they’re failing, they need to be replaced ASAP.
3. Fuel System Issues
Did you know a loose fuel cap could cause a “Check Engine” warning on your dashboard? The cap has to have an effective seal; if not it should be replaced with a new cap from your dealer. It’s a cheap repair and an important one. Speaking of fuel, make sure you keep your tank modestly full, especially in cold weather, because driving with less than a quarter-tank can clog your fuel pump, costing you more money than you’d save by penny-pinching on gas.
4. Change your motor oil regularly
Most cars will tell you when to change the oil, and when it does, stop what you’re doing and do so immediately, no joke. Your oil can run out unexpectedly, and if it does, it’ll make your engine overhead due to friction, which can cause permanent damage. That’s why garages will put a sticker on your windshield to remind you to change your oil after a certain amount of time and before that light comes on. While we’re on the topic, you also need to keep tabs on your engine coolant level, since it prevents the insides of your engine from overheating and corroding.
5. Tire Troubles
A lot of us don’t know how to change a tire, so you don’t want it going flat on you. Learning how can be a lifesaver. Take a few minutes to become familiar with your spare tire and tire-changing tools in the trunk. But you can also avoid the whole situation entirely if you keep your tires properly inflated, something you can do at an air pump at most gas stations. Tip: Buy a tire pressure gauge and check your tires regularly.
6. Exhaust system problems
One particularly important part of your car’s exhaust system is the oxygen sensor, whose job it is to detect oxygen levels in your car’s exhaust – a measure of your engine’s efficiency. In older cars, the oxygen sensor gets worn over time and may need replacing, making it a common repair. Another important part is the catalytic converter, which is responsible for neutralizing harmful gases in your exhaust, such as nitrous oxide. This component can also wear down and require replacement, usually at high mileage.
By Anthony Geremia