As drivers, we’re all legally obligated to bring in our cars for MOT every year (with only a few exceptions). Most people regard it as a necessary evil, an annoying annual expense that still plays a massive role in raising safety standards on UK roads. When it comes to servicing our cars though, the law isn’t quite as strict – and as a result, it’s something that a lot of drivers understandably choose to skip (especially with the current cost of living squeeze).
However, there’s a good reason that so many cars come with recommended service intervals – even the ones we supply in our online car auctions here at RAW2K. If you leave it long enough between services, sometimes issues can start to develop. Here are five of the most important warning signs not to ignore!
Dashboard warning lights
How do you know when your car has a serious problem? Well, it’ll tell you. The engine light is one of the first and most reliable indicators that something might be wrong, and it often tells you the general area that needs servicing too.
Engine issues, braking issues or fluid issues can all be indicated by specific lights, and some cars (even old ones) may helpfully say SERVICE in massive letters, which is fairly unambiguous. Dashboard warning lights can be easy to ignore, but take it from us – it’s best not to take the risk. If an issue has developed far enough to trigger a dashboard light, you can bet it’ll end up being more difficult and expensive to fix the longer you leave it.
This is something you won’t need a dashboard light to tell you about. Modern brakes are highly sensitive, so one of the most common signs is squealing when you brake. That generally indicates worn brake pads at the very least, and could indicate a more serious problem to boot. And obviously, brakes are one of the many components it’s important not to mess about with, so that’s a good time to book a service.
Loud or unpleasant noises, or vibrations
There’s a good reason that lots of people tend to assign personalities to their car. First of all there’s the fact that we see faces in them. What’s more though, just like animals (including humans) they tend to be very vocal when they’re unhappy. Humans and animals generally complain when they need food, or rest, or space. Cars, on the other hand, tend to complain first and foremost when they need fixing.
In addition to the brake screeches like we mentioned above, you’ll also want to be on the lookout for any squeals, knocks, growling, gurgling, grinding, banging… any and all of the above. Essentially, if your car is making any kind of noise that you know it shouldn’t, make sure to get that checked out immediately. The same goes for any strong vibrations, especially if you’re on an otherwise smooth road surface.
Any noticeable drop in fuel efficiency miles to the gallon
The relative fuel efficiency of different cars can obviously vary wildly, but any individual car should generally stay more or less consistent over the course of its lifetime. So if you notice that yours has suddenly experienced a notable drop in fuel efficiency, or that it’s otherwise struggling to make journeys that it used to manage perfectly well with, then that can be a surefire sign that there’s a major leak somewhere, either internally or externally. Similarly, if it’s suddenly requiring a lot more fluid than it used to (whether that’s oil, or washer fluid, or coolant), then that’s another fairly decent indication that a visit to the garage is in order.
Clouds of smoke or filthy emissions
This is another factor that ranks right up there along with “braking issues” that you can’t really fail to miss. If your car is belching out clouds of smoke, then that almost certainly means big trouble, and you should get it to a garage as soon as you can – even if that means taking a detour from your current journey. Clouds of smoke from under the bonnet may suggest an issue with the radiator, whereas if they’re coming from the exhaust then it may be a sign of oil leakage. Scrap Car Network has produced a helpful guide on the different colours of exhaust smoke and what they mean, but if you need the entire article quickly summed up in a nutshell – none of them are things you can fix without some serious tools and know-how – so it’s best to get it over to a garage, pronto.
This is far from an exhaustive list, but it should provide you a fairly reliable heads-up in what to watch out for! And if you get to the stage where you think you may need additional parts to repair it – or even a replacement vehicle entirely – it’s always worth taking a quick look through our online car auctions here at RAW2K. We’ve got a huge range of salvage cars to choose from in our online car auctions, including not just models from the likes of Ford and Vauxhall, but also other world-famous brands like Mercedes, Honda, and Peugeot. Our auctions are refreshed on a daily and weekly basis, so there are always bargains to be found. Why not take a look around, and see what you can find?