You’ve probably used your car long enough to know all of its ticks. You know all the noises it makes, the parts that don’t seem to work right, and the things that you have to do to keep it running as smoothly as possible. As a result, you are simply used to things that go wrong that you simply ignore them.
You may be saving yourself from a repair bill now, but it’s only a matter of time before your car quits for good or worse–puts your safety at risk. Here are the warning signs that your car is unsafe to drive and needs maintenance as soon as possible:
1. Cracked windows
Even the tiniest crack in your windshield or windows can spell trouble. What starts out as a teeny, tiny crack can spiderweb into bigger ones as you continue to use your car. Cracks, regardless of size, can weaken your windshield and car windows and put you and your passengers at increased risk of injury or ejection in case of an accident. It can even hinder the proper deployment of airbags, which can prove to be fatal if the impact is strong enough.
That said, take your car to a windshield repair service at the first sign of damage. The earlier you address the cracks, the cheaper your repair bill will be (and the better are your chances of avoiding a complete replacement).
2. Smell of gas
If you smell fuel or exhaust fumes in your car while driving, get out as soon as possible and call for help. The smell of gas inside the cabin can indicate a serious problem with your car. It could be coming from a gas leak, which is extremely dangerous as fuel can easily ignite. Moreover, being exposed to fumes for too long is hazardous to your health.
3. Noises coming from brakes
Your brakes aren’t supposed to make any noise. Thus, hearing squeaking or grinding noises when you step on the brakes likely means that there is something wrong with them. Needless to say, it is dangerous to drive with faulty brakes, so have them checked out before and ensure that they are working properly before using your car again. If you encounter this problem in the middle of the road, pull over and seek assistance. Don’t risk experiencing loss of brakes and possibly getting into a nasty road crash.
4. Warning lights
A lot of drivers ignore warning lights on their dashboard, and you’re probably guilty of this habit, too. However, warning lights are there for a reason. They tell you when there is something wrong with your car and when you need to get it checked out. Ignoring warning lights can lead to even bigger problems, and in most cases, these problems make your car less safe to drive.
5. Exhaust smoke
When you start to notice different colored smoke coming from your vehicle’s exhaust, it’s time to take your car to the mechanic. Exhaust fumes that are color gray, blue, and black smoke can indicate major problems in your vehicle. For instance, black smoke means that your engine is burning too much fuel, perhaps due to clogged air filters or faulty fuel injectors.
While abnormal-looking exhaust smoke is not inherently dangerous, it means that your car is in distress. When the underlying issues are ignored for too long, your car will further deteriorate and become less reliant on the road–and thus, unsafe to drive.
6. Broken lights
All of your car’s lights (headlights, taillights, signal lights) are essential for safe driving. If one or more of them are broken, you’re increasing your risk of getting into a road accident due to a lack of communication with other motorists and pedestrians around you. It is also illegal to drive with busted lights, so you could also be risking a ticket when you still decide to drive.
7. Damaged tires
Tires experience the most wear and tear out of all the parts of your car. That said, they require a lot of maintenance to ensure safety on the road. Poorly maintained tires can lead to a blowout and loss of control of the vehicle, which can lead to injuries and even death.
To prevent this problem, check your tires for damage or softness at least once a month, as well as before any long drive.
Driving an unsafe vehicle is like asking for an accident to happen. Even if your vehicle has stood the test of time and has never caused you problems before, you should still be diligent in ensuring that your car is safe to ride. Not only will this keep you and your passengers safe on the road, but it will also help reduce your maintenance expenses in the long run.