You don’t have to worry about most noises coming from your vehicle. However, here are four unusual sounds that deserve your attention.
If you hear a high-pitched screeching sound when you start your car or accelerate, you may have a loose or misaligned belt. However, if you notice this sound when braking, your brake pads probably need to be replaced.
A clunking or slamming sound that occurs every time you drive over a speed bump or uneven roadway could be an indication that your suspension is shot.
If your steering wheel suddenly veers to one side and you hear a dull rubbing or flapping sound coming from one side of your vehicle, chances are you have a flat tire.
Does your engine backfire when you accelerate? Does your vehicle suddenly seem unbearably loud? If you answered yes to either of these questions, you probably need a new muffler.
From whistling and rattling to squealing and humming, there are a lot of sounds your vehicle can make when you drive. While most car noises are benign, it’s best to take your vehicle to a professional to make sure.
Fix it or junk it? What to do with the old car
If your car is paid for (or almost paid for) and the repairs don’t cost much, it’s probably a good idea to keep it.
The key to keeping a car running for 200,000 miles is in the care and maintenance you give it. Change the oil regularly, rotate the tires, and don’t let small problems turn into big ones.
If your car has high mileage, its days might be limited, but at the same time, you probably won’t get much by selling it. As such, it’s smart to drive the vehicle until it dies. Paying for cheap repairs on high-mileage cars can be a good idea, especially if the car is paid off. With expensive repairs, you may be better off upgrading.
One important factor to consider is rust. If your car is rusting, it’ll get worse with time. Rust can cause extensive damage to exhaust and power train components, among other things. And with severe rust, it may only be a matter of time before components fail. It might be best to put your rust bucket out to pasture.
Another consideration: The market for used cars is better than ever. CoPilot has found that used car prices are up 43 percent above projected normal levels. Cars that should retail for $23,000 are instead retailing for $33,000. Kelly Blue Book also reports record-level prices for new cars, with vehicles costing about $48,000 on average.
If the used car you bought for $12,000 has less than 50,000 miles on it, you might be able to recover the whole cost in the current used car market. If you sell, you could put that money toward a new car. New car financing has very low interest, and with a high credit score, you might even be able to finance it for zero interest. But remember, the average price of a new car has hit record highs, according to KBB.com.
Buying or leasing a new car: what’s best?
When shopping for a new car, you must decide whether to lease or buy it. The choice can be difficult, as each option has pros and cons. Here’s what to consider.
The best thing about leasing is that you can use the car during its best, trouble-free years. You can also afford a higher-priced ride with the most up-to-date safety features, all covered under a warranty.
However, continuously leasing means making monthly car payments without owning the asset. Moreover, contracts typically have mileage limits with fees for exceeding them. Plus, you’ll be penalized if you cancel your agreement early or fail to keep your car in excellent condition.
The biggest advantage of buying is that you own the car, which means you can drive it as far as you want and sell it or trade it at any time. However, the car’s value will depreciate, and the monthly payments are usually higher than leasing rates.
Visit your local car dealership to discuss their leasing and buying terms.
Why you should rotate and balance your tires
Your vehicle’s tires are expensive. Therefore, you must do everything possible to make them last as long as possible. Rotating and balancing your tires are two effective methods of prolonging their lifespan. Here’s why.
• More even wear. Your car’s front tires wear out more quickly than your rear ones because turning increases friction with the road. A tire rotation exchanges your tires from front to back and from right to left, so your tires wear more evenly, prolonging the useful life of each tire.
• Increased safety. Your vehicle will handle better because rotating your tires leads to less wear and extends the life of the tire treads, giving you better traction for longer.
• Opportunity for inspection. Rotating your tires is an excellent time to inspect them for damage visually. You can also check the tread depth and air pressure and get them balanced if you’ve noticed vibrations. Unbalanced tires wear out unevenly, decreasing performance when turning or braking.
• Increased fuel efficiency. Worn-out tires have uneven contact with the road and increased friction, making your engine work harder and decreasing fuel efficiency.
• Fewer trips to the garage. If you don’t regularly rotate your tires, you must replace your front tires more often than your rear ones. When you keep them rotated, you can replace all four tires simultaneously, reducing the number of trips to the tire shop.
Most manufacturers recommend rotating and balancing your tires every 5,000 miles. However, the recommended frequency can vary on the type of tires, the size of your vehicle, and the road conditions where you usually drive.
How to inspect your vehicle’s oil in 7 easy steps
Checking your vehicle’s oil is a simple process that’ll help ensure your car runs smoothly for years. Here’s how to do it in seven easy steps.
1. Read up. Read your car’s owner’s manual before popping the hood.
2. Warm up the car. Drive around the block or make a quick jaunt to the grocery store. Then, turn the ignition off before checking the oil.
3. Open the hood and find the dipstick. The dipstick has a yellow or orange circular handle. When you pull the dipstick out, it should contain a long, thin metal strip.
4. Clean the dipstick. The end of the dipstick will have oil on it. Clean it off using a lint-free rag and reinsert the metal strip back in the hole.
5. Inspect the dipstick. Pull the dipstick back out and check the oil level. The dipstick will indicate maximum and minimum levels. You’re good to go if the level is between those two marks.
6. Inspect the oil. The oil should be clear amber, and smooth when you rub it between your fingers. If it’s black and gritty, it’s time to have your oil changed.
7. Top up if needed. If your oil is low, add some to the fill port on top of your engine. Low oil is also an indication a mechanic should inspect your car.
Visit an automotive shop near you to change your car’s oil every three months or 3,000 miles. Newer vehicles can go six months or 7,500 miles before needing an oil change.
5 car noises you should never ignore
Visual checks are an essential part of vehicle care and maintenance. However, you should also use your ears. Strange noises are clues about potential issues with your car. Here are five noises you shouldn’t ignore.
1. Squeaking or grinding. If you hear a grinding or squeaking noise every time you stop, your car’s brake pads, shoes, or rotors may be worn out. If left unchecked, these issues can be hazardous.
2. Hissing. Your engine could be over¬heating if you hear a hissing sound coming from under the hood. This sound could also mean the exhaust system is plugged.
3. Chirping. A high-pitched chirping sound could indicate that you need to adjust or replace the engine’s timing or serpentine belt.
4. Rattling. If your steering wheel is rattling or your tires are shaking, it’s time to act. It may mean you’ve lost a lug nut, or your power steering fluid is low.
5. Rumbling. A loud rumbling noise while accelerating often indicates a hole in your muffler or exhaust system. This is dangerous because toxic fumes can leak into the cabin.
See a professional automotive technician if you hear strange noises coming from your car. Failing to act quickly could result in more costly repairs down the road.
Today’s economy dictates a new way of driving
It wasn’t so long ago that performance and speed were the main characteristics of many vehicles. Today, most motorists look for better fuel economy, safety, and reliability. For most cars, there is only one way to reach these new goals: by changing driving habits.
Slowing down is the first factor in fuel economy. In fact, more careful, slower driving will contribute highly to all three aforementioned goals. Slower acceleration will ask for less fuel from your engine while coasting to a stop instead of braking hard at the last minute will help you save fuel and your brakes. Anticipate traffic lights and slow down before reaching corners. Driving at slower speeds on highways will also save you a lot of fuel. Indeed, it has been proven that lowering your average speed from 70 mph to around 60 mph can save you significant amounts of gasoline.
Modifying your driving habits might also mean choosing to travel during off-peak hours and avoiding high-density traffic. For highway driving, aerodynamics plays an important role; heading into the wind and cutting through the air asks for more power at higher speeds. Some people try to follow big trucks in order to “cheat” the air and get the best fuel consumption possible. Some succeed, but it is not advised to follow trucks closely; to do so can be very dangerous. Last but not least, remember that keeping your vehicle well maintained will greatly help save fuel and be safer on the road.
Today’s new economy dictates different driving habits.