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When to Try Simple Fixes, and When to Take Your Car to a Mechanic

When your car acts up in any way, there are often some simple fixes you might try before taking it to a mechanic. However, there are also times when those simple fixes fail to fix the problem, and it's then time to visit a repair shop. Note a few simple fixes you might try with your car when it's acting up and when it's time to have a mechanic address needed repairs and maintenance.

It sputters and stalls

Poor-quality petrol in the engine can make the car sputter and stall; if the petrol is watered down or has lots of additives, this can mean that the engine can't create and maintain proper combustion. To see if this is causing the problem with your car, fill the gas tank completely with high-quality petrol. Let the tank empty a bit and then refill it with high-quality petrol again. If the engine still sputters, the car may need a new oxygen sensor or a new fuel pump; your mechanic can test both these parts and note if they need replacement.

Brakes grind or squeal

Never take any risks with your car's brakes, but if you hear grinding, squealing, or other such sounds, it may be that the brakes are just very dusty and dirty. The pads may be squeezing against that debris when you apply the brakes, causing a grinding sound. You can take the car to a car wash and wash around the tyre rims, both on the outside and inside of the tyre, and note if that fixes the problem. If not, have the brake pads replaced.

Electrical parts dim or slow down

If the headlamps of the vehicle start to dim or if the dashboard fan doesn't work as it should, you might check the battery terminals. If these are corroded or the cables are not firmly attached to the battery, the car's electrical systems may be getting intermittent power. Carefully clean the terminals with a soft, dry cloth, and check the bolts that attach the wiring to the battery itself.

If this doesn't fix the problem, you can usually take the car to an auto parts store to have the battery tested. If it's low, it might be recharged, or you can buy a new one altogether. If the battery is fine, an auto electrician can check to see if the vehicle's wiring is bare and frayed and needs replacing.