Basic Vehicle Troubleshooting
Okay, so we have been getting a lot of calls lately from customers with "broken down vehicles." Truth is, we see a rise in these types of calls during winters. New Jersey winters in Newark can be harsh. It's not uncommon to have temperatures below freezing for weeks at a time. These types of temperatures can take toll on your vehicle without the proper care and maintenance.
So, when your car is not starting, aka "broke down," here's a detailed list of possible causes for you to diagnose for your vehicle if you're having trouble driving. The good news is that you don't have to be a mechanic to troubleshoot what the issue may be.
Note: These are the most frequent calls that we take. Not necessarily mechanical issues.
Have You Checked Your Tires Recently?
If you haven't checked out your tires recently then it's imperative that you take a look at the treads. Depending on the tire life, tires should be rotated every 10,000 miles. If you haven't rotated your tires in a while or every, you're probably due for a rotation. If this is the case, then you'll notice a significant difference in the way your vehicle performs on the road. You'll notice the traction having a better grip on the pavement.
Furthermore, let's find out what some of the typical symptoms are if you have old or damaged tires. Has your car been manufactured in the last twenty years? If so, then you most likely have a tire pressure indicator light within your dashboard. This indicator light gives you the advantage of knowing if something is wrong with your tire (that being low air pressure).
Low tire pressure oftentimes takes place during the colder, wintery months. Whether it's a car, truck, motorcycle or bicycle, your rubber tires will lose air pressure. If not properly filled up to the recommended air pressure levels, you run the risk of damaging your tires and rims. The uneven pressure can also affect the alignment on your vehicle. However if not pumped, you're also running the risk of having a flat tire.
Low tire pressure can also happen due to time. If you drive a lot and haven't put air in your tires then it's just normal wear and tear. However, if all of a sudden your light pops on, then it's mostly likely caused by tire damage, such as a nail. Either way, you'll want to safely scope out your tire, away from high traffic areas.
If you notice that the tire isn't completely flat, then all you have to do is just fill it up. Keep an eye out for your indicator light. Has it turned off? If it's a nail in your tire then chances are it will turn back on in about two weeks, depending on the severity of the leak. A small leak isn't going to be a big problem , however you'll want to have the tire removed as soon as possible.
TIRE PROBLEM NUMBER 2
Now, if you're driving on the highway and run over a pothole or hard object such as plywood or a rock, then it's possible that your tire can burst. If this happens you may hear a large burst, but within moments of impact, you'll probably know that your tire is damaged significantly.
When a tire is damaged significantly from impact, you may have to take control of the steering wheel as it oftentimes swerves hard left or right. The vehicle will also flutter slowly, so be sure to pull over to a safe spot and call for a roadside recovery company like Newark Tow Truck.
If the impact was minor, you're still susceptible of having tire damage. You'll know something is wrong if your steering wheeling is moving back and forth from left to right. It will seem as though the steering wheel is vibrating. If this is the case, then check your tires immediately and call for help, if you cannot change your tire.
"My Car Won't Start"
-Whether it's due to cold temperatures or honest negligence, car batteries tend to die that the most inconvenient times. We never know when our battery is dead until we're about the drive away. This typically happens at distant locations or just before you drive to work.
So, how do you know if your battery is dead? Listed below are a few places where you can diagnose the situation.
1- Keyless entry failed to work - You may have tried to open or lock your vehicle and noticed that your keyless entry wasn't working. Our first reaction is to think that the battery in the remote died, however, it may be worth investigating more.
2. Interior Lights - When your battery dies, your interior lights will either flicker or will be completely turned off. If let on, the lights literally suck the life right out of the battery. This is a problem that can be easily prevented, although most light switches are extremely sensitive whereas it's so easy to leave them on. If let on during the day, it's nearly impossible to know that they're on, due to the sunlight. Your chances of catching the issue is much easier at night time.
3. Headlights/Foglights - Just like your interior lights, either one of these lights will absorb all the juice from the battery. However, if left on, most vehicles at least make a noise which will alert you that the power is on. It's also much easier to notice these lights on , especially at night time where it's virtually impossible to leave on, unless you're toxically impaired (which you shouldn't be driving under the influence). When your battery is dead, you most likely won't be able to turn these on. However when you get into the car, check and see if your lights are switched in the on position.
4. Horn Honk - When your battery is dead, your horn won't have any juice (plain and simple). It may have zero sound or may just flutter and sound weak.
5. Engine Won't Start - When you turn the ignition, your engine won't have enough juice to start. You may even learn what the problem is right away if an interior light turns on (provided that there is a little juice left). You'll hear a clicking sound, but your engine just won't start.
Engine Is Not Starting
Very similar to a dead battery are the following issues that can take place if your vehicle is not properly maintained. What we mean is from a "symptom standpoint" you'll have similar characteristic when you turn the wheel as with the dead battery. If you're not familiar with working under the hood then we recommend that you allow a professional to resolve the issue.
1. Spark plug needs to be replaced
2. Blown electrical fuse
Either instance will prevent the engine from starting. The engine needs a little juice and with either one of these instances, may prevent your car from starting.
Other Notable Issues
Okay, we get this service call all the time. "My engine is smoking... What do I do?"
First and foremost, if you smell anything burning or if your vehicle starts smoking, turn all of the power accessories off and pull over immediately. Once that's taken care of, take the keys out of the ignition and get out of the vehicle. Wait a few minutes and then pop your hood open. If you see flames, prior to leaving the hood open, just get away from the vehicle.
Smokey engines are a result of lack of maintenance. This can either be from the thermostat sticking (meaning lack of water to the engine) or lack of coolant. With proper maintenance, both can be prevented.
Also, if you recently got into an accident and see leaking fluids, then you should pull over and get an idea of what the damage is prior to driving again. Mechanical fluids are what allow the vehicle to properly run and if they're leaking, well, then you're bound to have mechanical issues. So to keep costs down and to not overextend the vehicle, you should just wait for a tow truck to help deliver your vehicle to a auto body shop.
CNewark Tow Truck will help you get out of whatever issue you find your vehicle in. We do not impound vehicles or remove vehicles that are blocking your car or truck in, but we can handle just about every light and medium duty job.
Call us today at 973-447-4181 should you need any towing or roadside assistance.