6 Common Auto Repair Questions Answered

A man look at an engine while writing on a clipboard.

Dealing with car problems can be an intimidating situation, but being able to troubleshoot common auto problems can save you serious time and money. From performing routine car maintenance to determining what is leaking under the hood, here are six common auto repair questions answered.

1. When Should I Replace the Brakes in My Car?

Brakes are one of the most essential parts of your vehicle. Depending on how and where you drive, brake pads will last anywhere between 25,000 and 70,000 miles. Pads wear down faster if you tend to stop suddenly or if you drive in an area that is high in traffic lights. The brake pad material also plays a role in their longevity. If your vehicle is in need of a brake pad change, you might notice a few symptoms. This includes the car pulling to the left or right when braking, a sticky brake pedal, a grinding noise when applying the brakes, or a brake indicator light on the dash.

2. How Often Should I Do Routine Maintenance?

A man changes a tire on a car.

When it comes to routine car maintenance, every vehicle is different. Your vehicle's manual will tell you when you need to bring it in for routine maintenance. Some services, like oil changes, should be done more frequently than others. Your car might even feature indicator lights on the dash that will help notify you when a particular service is needed. Consult the manual to determine what each indicator light means.

3. When Do I Need New Wiper Blades?

How long your wiper blades last depends largely on the climate. The rubber on the blades degrades quicker in hot areas of the country, making replacement more frequent. If you live in an area that gets a lot of moisture, constantly using the blades will also wear them down faster. If the blades smear water across the windshield then you know it is time for a replacement. It is better to replace the wiper blades as soon as possible to avoid any potential safety concerns.

4. What Type of Fluid Is Leaking?

You should take immediate action if you notice any fluids leaking below your vehicle. You can usually determine the source of the problem by the consistency and color of the fluid. Water on the ground is common in warm weather and is typically a result of condensation build up in the air conditioner. It is usually not an issue. Red fluid signifies a leaky transmission or power-steering, dark brown indicates leaking oil, and yellow liquid can be traced back to the antifreeze or radiator. These leaks should be taken care of as soon as possible to avoid further damage to the engine.

5. When Should I Change the Oil?

Man puts a new part in a car.

The time interval between oil changes depends on the age of the car. Oil in older cars should be swapped out every 3,000 miles. Newer cars, however, can run on the same oil for 15,000 miles before an oil change is needed. Check your vehicle's manual for when you should change out the oil. If you are going on a long road trip and will be crossing over the recommended threshold, then you should change the oil ahead of time. If not, then there is no need to change the oil before the trip.

6. What Do I Do if My Car Won’t Start?

There are few things that ruin a day like a car that doesn’t start in the morning. If your vehicle doesn’t turn on, you should start the process of elimination by checking the battery. Take note if you accidentally left the lights on or if the battery cables and posts are badly corroded. After removing the positive and negative cables, take the battery to your nearest auto parts store. They will usually test it for free. If the battery fails the test, then replace it and you should be back to normal. If the battery is fine, then you might be dealing with a bad alternator or starter.