Our family’s 1994 Toyota Corolla has a few quirks, but has been a reliable vehicle overall. Having been around vehicles so much over the years, I have a unique peace of mind about driving a vehicle of any age. Why? Because I’m educated about what’s normal, what’s not, and what to do if there is a problem. You can have the same peace of mind.

Sights, Sounds and Smells

It’s important to know how your vehicle communicates. There are many indicators when there is a problem. Being able to describe the sights, sounds and smells that could indicate a problem helps you talk to your auto repair shop so they can have a good understanding of where they should start testing and evaluating the problem. Having this information also helps you know whether you have something to be concerned about. 

What do I see?

A few indicators can warn you of a problem, one being lights on your dash. It can be overwhelming when you don’t know what they mean but this knowledge can put you at ease – even if it indicates a serious problem. Knowing what to call the light when you are talking to your mechanic can help the conversation move forward. If the light is indicating a serious problem, you can be confident that calling the tow truck is the right thing to do.

There are other visual indicators of a potential problem. Being able to recognize them and catch them early can potentially save you a lot of money.

  • Lights on the dash (See the free download below or check your owner’s manual)
  • Loss of power to the instrument panel, radio, or heating/cooling console
  • Smoke or steam
  • Fluid loss/leaks

What do I hear?

I’m around cars all the time and yet sometimes I hear a noise and worry that something is wrong…then Andrew tells me it’s normal and I feel a little silly. Here are noises that you should call your mechanic about:

  • Scraping
  • Grinding
  • Squeaking
  • Squealing
  • Hissing
  • Chirping
  • Clunking
  • Rubbing

What do I smell?

Smells can indicate a serious problem with your vehicle, and in some cases, bad for your health. Please contact your mechanic if you smell:

  • Gasoline fumes
  • Burning oil fumes
  • Sweet fumes
  • Hot brakes
  • Hot clutch
  • Mold

What do I feel?

It’s important to pay attention to what your vehicle feels like when it’s running well because it makes it easier to tell when something has changed. 

  • Vibrating
  • Jolting
  • Clunking
  • Soft brake pedal
  • Rough running
  • Delayed shifting

Free Glove Box Printables

We know that this is a lot to remember, especially in the moment. Download these free printables to keep in your glove compartment or stop by and pick one up at our office:

Vehicle Owner’s Survival Guide:

How to –

  • Check fluids
  • Jumpstart your battery
  • Check tire pressure
  • Change a tire

Emergency Guide:

  • Sights, Smells and Sounds
  • Dashboard Lights

Proactive vs Reactive

Seeing, hearing, or feeling problems with your vehicle causes a reaction – call my mechanic and get something fixed. But what if you could reduce those surprises and, instead, take a proactive approach to keep your vehicle healthy?

We believe (and have seen) that proactive care can reduce your stress and finances for your vehicle. By having regular inspections and doing proactive maintenance and repairs, you can curb these surprises and reduce your visits to the repair shop. 

Having detailed inspections, like getting a doctor’s physical, can detect something wrong before it becomes a problem. Then, when you are due for an oil change, you can include other needed services and reduce your visits to the repair shop. We call these “service visits.” Many times attending to a problem before it becomes severe can save you a LOT of money. 

We know that peace of mind is important to you when you are on the road. Don’t wonder, be prepared and know if you are driving a safe and reliable vehicle.

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