Junkyard | Robby Biron
10 Signs Your Stupid Car Is Going to Die
So youِ love yourِ car, evenِ though you’re short onِ the funds youِ needِ to keepِ itِ running.
That’s OK, theseِ things happen.
Everyone that’s everِ owned a car that was pre-owned manyِ times over, orِ gotِ forِ free fromِ grandma, orِ something that’s justِ plain onِ itsِ last legs knowsِ that anِ aging ride isِ goingِ to haveِ its quirks.
1. Idiot lights galore
Why areِ they called idiot lights.
Because they’re supposed toِ tellِ you somethingِ isِ wrong evenِ if youِ aren’t exactlyِ mechanically inclined.
A check engine light means youِ should make anِ appointment withِ your mechanic, orِ ifِ you’re a shade-tree mechanic yourself, plug yourِ car intoِ anِ OBD-II diagnostics meter rightِ away.
Check engine light | Micah Wright/Autos Cheat Sheet
2. An unquenchable thirst for oil
Oil isِ used toِ lubricate yourِ engine.
It isn’t supposed toِ escape intoِ your driveway orِ out yourِ tailpipe.
If yourِ car hasِ a single leak that’s gettingِ worse, fix itِ beforeِ it’s tooِ late.
3. Well, any unquenchable thirst, really
Like theِ human body, yourِ car needsِ a number ofِ precious fluids toِ stay alive.
But ifِ you’re checking everyِ month and notice thatِ somethingِ isِ bone dry everyِ time, thatِ means somethingِ isِ ready toِ grenade.
It’s noِ longer a matter ofِ if, it’s when.
4. Strange and exotic smokes
Check your oil. There should be some in there. | iStock
Speaking ofِ smoking, ifِ your car isِ channeling itsِ innerِ Marlboro Man, itِ alwaysِ spells seriousِ trouble.
Blue-ish smoke coming outِ your tailpipe means you’re burning oil.
This couldِ mean yourِ piston rings, valve guides andِ seals, orِ pistons themselvesِ couldِ beِ shot.
5. Poor timing
Sure, everyone’s heard ofِ those.
But a timing belt.
Many cars haveِ interference engines, whichِ means thatِ improper timing willِ causeِ the valves andِ pistons toِ collide, whichِ makesِ a loud andِ horrible noise, stops yourِ car dead inِ its tracks, andِ means you’ll likelyِ need a newِ engine.
6. Knock knock
Check your radiator too. There should be coolant in there. | Micah Wright/Autos Cheat Sheet
Here’s theِ thing aboutِ your car’s engine: It’s a giant lump ofِ metal that’s built toِ withstand andِ contain thousands ofِ explosions everyِ single day.
Things likeِ motor mounts, harmonic balancers, ingenious engineering tricks, andِ even good oldِ insulation doِ wonders inِ covering thisِ up, butِ give itِ enoughِ time, andِ these thingsِ getِ tired out, andِ the innerِ workings ofِ our powerplants becomeِ allِ too obvious.
An improperly lubricated engine (again withِ thoseِ pesky fluids) givesِ your car’s rods, camshaft, orِ bearings theirِ chance toِ makeِ a break forِ it.
7. Terminal rot
In mostِ parts ofِ the country, rust isِ a scourge.
Rocker panels, fenders, hoods, andِ trunks canِ allِ be fixed, butِ once you’re dealing withِ theِ tin worm inِ vital places likeِ the frame, shock towers, fuel andِ brake lines, orِ suspension mounting points (in cold climates, it’s usuallyِ a combination ofِ allِ of these), yourِ car isِ asِ good asِ dead.
If a nasty pothole isِ enoughِ to kill yourِ car, youِ don’t evenِ want toِ thinkِ aboutِ what anِ accident withِ anotherِ vehicle couldِ look like.
8. Creak, creak, bang!
2017 Camaro SS roasting its tires, not its antifreeze | Chevrolet
If you’re inِ a forwardِ gear andِ pointing theِ steering wheel straight, your car isِ supposed toِ drive inِ a straight line, andِ its suspension isِ supposed toِ absorb anyِ road imperfections withoutِ tooِ muchِ trouble.
But ifِ you needِ to see-saw theِ wheel toِ keepِ straight, yourِ car isِ bouncing likeِ it’s onِ hydraulics, andِ your wheels creak, crack, andِ thump everyِ time youِ turn, itِ means yourِ front suspension isِ shot.
Your shocks, tie rods, steering rack, andِ ball joints allِ take anِ enormous amount ofِ punishment, andِ require a littleِ preventative maintenance.
9. Tired transmission
So yourِ automatic transmission isِ starting toِ slip, butِ it kind of goes ifِ you letِ itِ roll thenِ stomp theِ gas justِ right.
If youِ haveِ the funds, it’s time toِ buy a newِ transmission.
If youِ don’t, thenِ it’s time toِ put yourِ car toِ bed.
10. Gremlins galore
Let’s sayِ you’re theِ patient type, andِ afterِ not starting, cutting out, andِ leaving youِ stranded againِ and again, youِ stillِ hold outِ hope thatِ your car canِ beِ saved.
Your mechanic saysِ it’s electrical, soِ you’ve replaced theِ battery, alternator, andِ starter; it’s stillِ notِ working, andِ your mechanic hasِ run outِ ofِ ideas.
Unless youِ wantِ toِ spend hundreds ofِ dollars onِ a newِ wiring harness, rip yourِ dashboard (and inِ some cases windshield) toِ getِ to theِ oldِ one, thenِ spend hours unplugging theِ oldِ one andِ plugging inِ the newِ one (or paying someoneِ thousands ofِ dollars toِ doِ this), thenِ it’s probablyِ time toِ give upِ theِ ghost.