5 common sense ways to identify what’s up with your car

Diagnosing car problems using your five senses

Wouldn’t it be great if, on that (rare) occasion that something went wrong with your car, you could somehow use a sixth sense to diagnose exactly what was wrong with it? Like Spiderman’s spidey senses, but for cars.

Well, if you ask a seasoned mechanic, you’d pretty quickly find out that such super powers do exist amongst mere mortals (although we’d debate those MyAutoShop mechanics are a bit more than that!).

That said,

it’s nearly impossible to make a 100% accurate diagnosis based on use of the senses without physically seeing beneath the hood, inside, or underneath, or plugging it into a computer. With the level of risk around cars, you don’t want to be working on anything less than the most complete information you can gather.

With that in mind, you can play detective and give enough information to the mechanic to allow them to begin their search for the source of the issue.

Here are a few tricks you can use to help the mechanic figure out what’s wrong with your car. The best part, you don’t need any tools, just your five senses. So yes, that’s what we meant by “common sense”!

How to diagnose the problem with your car

Use your eyes

Get into the habit of looking around and under your car on a frequent basis. When you get to know your car, it’s easier to spot when something isn’t quite right. Check your tyres and under the hood to determine if they’re wearing evenly. Look at the area where your car will be parked overnight. Is there any evidence of leaks or stains? If you notice a large black stain under your exhaust tip, it’s possible that your vehicle is burning oil.

The colour of any fluid, as well as its location in relation to the car, can assist you figure out what problem you’re dealing with. A pool of red fluid under the front of your car is another example. This could be a leak in the power steering fluid.

Use your nose

At MyAutoShop, we think of cars a bit like people, and our mechanics are like the doctors. Like human beings, cars can sometimes give off the odd bad smell (no names at the MAS-HQ!). When your car isn’t feeling well, it may generate some strange odours, and there are a variety of smell kinds that can suggest certain concerns. Get rid of any fragrances that are stopping you from getting a full whiff, and, in your own time, ease into the car and take a deep breath. Is there a burning, exhaust, mould, or chemical odour in the air? This can help when it comes to briefing your mechanic, saving you time and ultimately, a bit of cash as well.

Use your ears

Turn off the music now and then and listen to your car’s heartbeat. Learn how it sounds when it’s healthy, and you’ll be able to tell when it’s sick. Listen for the engine’s purr and any strange noises. Is it continual or intermittent if you hear anything strange? Is it only when you’re braking or turning that you notice it?

Figure out where the noise is originating from and whether it gets louder the quicker you go. Is that obnoxiously loud squeaking coming from the wheel, or from the engine?

Use your hands

Get a feel for your vehicle. A few things you can look out for include the handling of the car; is it smooth all the time, or does it hum a little bit? Is there a tremor in your hands when you’re driving? If this is the case, there is most likely a steering or suspension problem. If the clutch feels different, the clutch cable may need to be changed. You should have your brakes inspected if the brake pedal feels soft and spongelike. Is it difficult for you to keep the steering wheel straight or is the car starting to veer into another direction?

Use your tongue

If you’re really unsure, it can sometimes be a good idea to give your car the old ‘tongue test’… okay actually just kidding! We expressly recommend that you don’t ever lick your vehicle, who knows where that thing’s been?!

Once you have diagnosed what’s wrong with your car, or gotten somewhere close to a diagnosis, pop on over to the MyAutoShop service area and book in with one of our qualified, experienced mechanics. We’re here to make it easy to get your vehicle humming (the right way) again!