If you're the kind who waits for your regular trip to the car service centre to address potential problems with your vehicle, you could be putting yourself and other drivers in danger.
Frequent servicing of your car is recommended for all vehicle owners, but you should also be keeping an eye on your automobile yourself to ensure you don't miss any problems that can crop up between checks.
One of the easiest places to check for warning signs is right under your nose - on your dashboard. There's an array of lights on here that you may not even notice until they suddenly flash on, indicating that something's not quite right in your car.
Firstly, check the colour of the symbol when it lights up. Generally, red indicates that there may be a serious problem. Orange or yellow may simply mean that something will need to be checked or serviced soon, whereas a green or blue symbol usually indicates that something is operating.
Some cars are equipped with a tyre pressure monitoring light system, which will appear when pressure decreases by 25 per cent or more on any tyre. It looks like a tyre with an exclamation mark, and appears most frequently during autumn and winter as the reduced outdoor temperatures can reduce your tyres' pressure.
If your car doesn't have this light, other warning signs of low tyre pressure include less precise steering, especially when turning corners. You may also notice that it takes longer for your vehicle to brake.
If you suspect your tyre pressure is low, reduce your speed and pull over when it's safe. If your tyres don't appear visually low, you might be able to drive to the closest service station very quickly. However, if a tyre is leaking quickly, driving on it can cause you to lose control of your vehicle.
The brake light, which will appear as either the word "BRAKE" or as a circle with an exclamation point in it, surrounded by brackets, can indicate a few different things.
It appears whenever the hand brake is engaged, so if it pops up on your car, double check that you aren't accidentally driving with this brake on.
It can also indicate your brake fluid is low, or the brake systems are failing. This is obviously a much more serious problem, so if you are sure your hand brake isn't on, don't drive your car until this is checked by an expert.
This symbol can appear extremely threatening, but often indicates something minor. It's represented by an exclamation mark inside a triangle, and can be either yellow or red. The red version will often also feature text to warn you what is wrong, and could be something serious like low oil pressure
On the other hand, it can flick on when a door is ajar or when the oil needs changing, so if you're unsure, check with your vehicle servicing expert.
The yellow version is found in some European cars to show there's a problem with the vehicle's stability control system. If this appears, drive your vehicle with caution and check in with a professional.
An unusual smell coming from your vehicle should never be ignored. If you smell gasoline, it might be simply that some has splashed onto your clothing or hands while you were filling up the car. However, it may be a sign of a broken fuel line or fuel-system leak.
If you smell petrol, pull over and check your clothes and hands for the odour. Then double check that your petrol cap is firmly screwed on. If you still can't find the source of the smell, call a tow truck and avoid using any matches or lighters until the vehicle has been secured.
At Motorama we have Brisbane's best service centres located at Moorooka, Browns Plains and Springwood. We service all makes and models.
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