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Common car troubles, their causes and solutions.

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What’s going on with my car? Diagnosing common car problems

Car Trouble








Shakes, bumps, noises and faulty air-con – what the heck is going on with my car?

Like people, cars sometimes experience little hiccups and need a bit of a health check and some extra attention to get back on track. So, there’s no need to panic if your near-new car is suddenly acting strangely. Even if your car is new, taking some precautions will ensure you help prevent these common car problems in the future. Here are some common car troubles, and what you can do to sort them out.


The problem: Uneven tyre wear.

Recognise it: It may not be obvious when driving that your car’s tyres are unevenly worn, but worn tyres can be dangerous due to their reduced grip on the road. A quick check will tell you if your tyres are worn unevenly. The easiest way is to jack up your car and inspect each tyre individually, noting whether there are any bald spots on the inside or outside of the tyre, or whether there are any dips and dents in the tyre tread.

Fix it: Rotating your tyres and having your wheels aligned regularly.

In terms of how often you should get your tyres rotated, it’s different for every vehicle and type of tyre, but having them rotated at every oil change is a good rule of thumb. Check with the tyre manufacturer for a more specific time frame. Remember that the more often you rotate your tyres, the more evenly they’ll wear, and when you have the tyres rotated, you should also get them checked for balance and alignment.



The problem: Problems starting the engine.

Recognise it: Your car either takes a long time to start, or the car simply won’t start at all.

Fix it: There are a number of reasons which can cause a car engine not to start, the most common, of course, being a dead battery. Pay special attention to the noise it makes when you turn the key. Is the car completely silent? If so, there may be a problem with your battery terminal cable connections. Does your car crank over but not start? Then it may be your spark plugs or fuel supply to your engine. In any case, if you’re out on the road, try jumpstarting your car then investigating the cause further when you’re safely back at home.


The problem: Air conditioner not working.

Recognise it: Your air con will switch on, but you notice it’s just blowing room-temperature air around rather than cold air.

Fix it: The most likely cause of this is that there is no refrigerant left in your system. This could be caused by a leak in your system somewhere, which will have to be fixed before refilling the refrigerant. If you’re car-savvy and you own a set of air conditioning gauges, refilling the refrigerant is usually easy to do yourself. However, if you’re not so confident, enlist the help of a knowledgeable friend or take a quick trip to the mechanic.


The problem: Engine overheating.

Recognise it: You may notice steam or smoke coming from your bonnet, or the needle on your engine temperature gauge may be through the roof.

Fix it: Overheating can be caused by a few different factors. The simplest cause may be that your car needs more coolant. Yet depleted coolant can be caused by bigger problem, like leaks or faulty hoses, so always check for the underlying cause before simply filling it up with more. Another common reason for overheating may be that the radiator fan which keeps your engine cool is faulty, so check your fan motor connection and fan thermostat.

The problem: Noisy brakes.

Recognise it: You’ll know it when you hear it!

Fix it: There could be a number of reasons for noisy brakes. It could be that your brake pads are loose, worn out, or you may have brake dust inside the drum. If you can’t see anything wrong with your brake pads, and you suspect it may be brake dust, it may be best to leave this to a professional – brake dust can be extremely dangerous if accidentally inhaled.


Always remember, if you don’t feel confident tackling your car troubles on your own, taking your car in for a quick service and tune up to get you back on the road in no time. Also, don’t forget to take care of the outside appearance of your car as well as the inside – a little DIY waxing and car detailing will help prevent aesthetic problems (like rust and worn out interiors) later down the track. See our car care guide for a few tips and tricks.


What are some other common car troubles, and what’s your best advice for recognising and fixing them?


28 comments on “Common car troubles, their causes and solutions.
  1. My Toyota Rav-4 year 2002 w/ 2.0 eng is experiencing a first time fault where once I take off my foot from gas pedal – engine dies off. Tech advise had me installed in a new ‘idle sensor’ and ‘air flow sensor’. But no luck. Now tech had its ‘fuel pump’ replaced with a good one but still no luck. Not quite sure if this other used fuel pump is OK. Tech said its producing 80psi output. Still no luck.. Car kicks and starts normal when started. Take my foot off gas pedal it dies off still. Also when stepping on gas for full throttle, engine ravs up to max of only 3rpm – then fluctuates up and down between 3 to 2 rpm only monitoring speed meter. I really need help please from Rav-4 experts please.I know my tech has hit a wall with my car trouble! I don’t want to have a blue Christmas! Please someone give me some expert advice on my car problem. Thanks.

  2. marjorie says:

    could not start this morning had a boost now when I went for a run car is sluggish and engine sounds noiser. when boosting, there was a spark could this have caused a problem?

  3. Louis Lafontaine says:

    I have a 1992 oslmobile achiva 3.3 l Problem after driving the car for 15 minuts the engine stop ,i have to wait a while to get the engine started again .

  4. Ernest says:

    Dear John, my Mazda Tribute (SUV) 2001 won’t change gears from reverse to drive. I was driving out and had to reverse before driving out of the gate and it simply refused to transmit back to ‘drive’. Please, what should I do? Many thanks.

  5. hamid gulabnabi khatik says:

    my Tavera car problem is… gas came through oil gej niddel… plz solve

  6. SHAIKH IMTIAZ says:

    Diahatsu sirion 1. 3 overheat while long driving on 80 100 speed. Ok suggest

  7. sharad shinde the mechanic says:

    thanks for your reconnisetion we i wil chek further details…

  8. Vivian says:

    I have a 2002 Vw golf 1 after less than 10 min of driving the engine jst stops.wht is the problem pls help

  9. Lilian says:

    My car slow jug when accelerated, what is the csuse of it. Thanks John

  10. Wynand says:

    My car dive for +-10km than start to jerc lfeel like a car running out of petrol. Than it stop wait for about 5-10min than you can drive further. What can be wrong Toyota guys please help. I drive a Tas 2001 model 2e motor carpuretor

  11. Great post for car repairing tips. Thank you for sharing useful information

  12. rind says:

    car not move when accelatoring.
    nissan sunny automatic 1.8
    obd2 troble code show me p1122& p1126.but i not understand location.
    please can you mention by picture etc motor power and etc fuction circuit ,location.
    best regards

  13. Anita hayman says:

    Mt toyota camry is shuddering when we are drivingor if its just idling pls help so i know what needs to be done

  14. Andriniaina ferdinah says:

    hello! my name is ferdinah
    I’m from Madagascar and i am a mechanic, i ve just finished the interhip since 2015 but i didn’t work at the garage, just work with my friend and my family
    Now i have any problems for my friend’s car about the engine it sometimes hot because the weather here is getting hot, the problem happened last january and we found that we needed to repair the radiator and changed the engine’s gasket joint, when we have done that it was ok! The problem now is not like before the ventilator turn for long times
    We don’t find something wrong but i think it is to bad the car is hyunday atos
    Can you healp us please
    Thank you

  15. kenneth tandi says:

    my nissan almera car is showing aradiator sign on dashboard,what might be the problem

  16. Kehinde says:

    Car having hiccups after engine service. Please help

  17. duku samuel says:

    thank you.what is the use of a thermostat on vehicles?

  18. I am restoring a 1993 Chrysler yorker fifth avenue, im doing good so far , but I’m stuck, the abs break system broke down making the car almost impossible to stop, this happended after i changed the break pads even thi i was recommended to take it to a shop, well.. I didnt, i have replaced the part for a rebuild one, but when i instslled it it doesnt work

  19. Liam says:

    Hyundai getz 2007 – owned from new, serviced and then took of the road for 18 months, started engine approx 4 months ago, tried to start and failed in the last few days. Replaced battery, cleaned plugs, have a spark from the plugs, starts with starter spray, but does not continue, backfired twice.
    I have checked the fuses and relay in the fuse box with multi meter, all ok. What should i be looking at next, help please?

  20. Wilbur says:

    Hi there have a jetta mk2 1991 model got a management on the car struggle to start the first time have to swing it a few times and when it starts you can’t accelerate then it switches of so you have to leave it for n minute or 2 before accelerating what could be the problem.

  21. Lee Town says:

    After the car warms up and is driven for a few minutes. The engine is turned off and attempting to restart it will run for four seconds and stop. After ninety minutes. car starts. Sometimes after starting the ABS light and fuel indicator will not function. Also noticed motor fan not working

  22. Joe Evans says:

    When accelerating from a stop my car tends to whines, it’s not the power steering pump, what else could it be ?

  23. fabian says:

    dear John, My carrina2 has a problem I wanted to start it but no luck, mechanic check the inside distributor no way, changed fuel pump, move CDI,brainbox but no luck pls what can I do.

  24. Bruce says:

    I have oil in my air filter and box how did it get their how do I fox it.

  25. David Sullivan says:

    Hi there, there are numerous reasons why a car won’t start. If your current mechanic can’t sold the problem we would recommend vising a different one who specialists in your type of car. If you are located in Perth, we have service centres in Welshpool and East Victoria Park, or a Mobile Service team who will come to you to look at your car as well.

  26. David Sullivan says:

    Hi Bruce, oil in your air filter and air box can be a pointer to serious issues within your cylinder head or could also be a minor ventilation problem that requires unblocking/flushing. If you are located in Perth we would recommend booking in to one of our service centers in either East Victoria Park or Welshpool for a compression test as well as a thorough inspection in to what the problem could be before you are caused further damage.

  27. jayrald says:

    Hi sir david sullivan i want to be part of your automotive servicing im fresh graduate major in automotive if you read this sir just send me a message on facebook “”
    Im Jayrald Regachuelo 21 yrs old 4 years graduate . Im automotive

  28. Arup ghosh says:

    When car is running I heard more sound into the car.

2 Pings/Trackbacks for "Common car troubles, their causes and solutions."
  1. […] a faulty alternator without even knowing it at some point in the past. You know that there is a problem with your alternator if you are experiencing persistent battery problems. Also, if your headlights tend to dim when […]

  2. […] tyres are an integral part of any vehicle. After all, they are the only part of the car that actually has any contact with the road. To that […]

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