14 November 2023 · Tips N' Tricks
Signs Your Car Needs Servicing
HOW TO TELL WHEN YOUR CAR NEEDS A BIT OF LOVE AND ATTENTION, EVEN IF THE STICKER ON THE WINDSCREEN SAYS OTHERWISE.
Servicing a car at its regular scheduled service intervals is the best way to minimise your chances of being struck by mechanical issues. Still, even a religiously serviced car can require attention between scheduled service visits. If you're lucky, your Mazda will tell you this with a 'service-due' reminder light or a more specific fault warning.
But short of steam, smoke, a loud bang or some other obvious harbinger of woe, the signs of a car that needs servicing are often subtle. Here are some to look, listen and feel for.
Engine oil, coolant or other automotive fluids live and circulate in sealed systems and their levels should stay relatively constant between services. If you notice a certain fluid is unusually depleted during fluid checks – or worse, find one or more of these vital fluids on the ground after you park – don't just top and forget. Somewhere in one of these systems is a leak or other problem that needs to be checked out.
Hearing something unusual – whether it's a rattle, clang, bang, squeal, shriek, growl, hiss, click or clunk – is another sign something might not be right with your car. It might be subtle and intermittent, making you wonder whether it's normal or if you're even hearing it. In that scenario, trust your gut – if you think you're hearing something you haven't heard before, you probably are. If your senses are heightened enough, try to determine the rough location of the noise, when it happens and any other relevant information to help your mechanic find the source of the problem.
A car in tip-top shape should be, for want of a better word, smooth. The engine should whir, the transmission shift seamlessly, the brakes engage smoothly and it should roll with a certain effortlessness. A car in need of a good servicing, in contrast, can feel a bit uncivilised. It might idle rough, pulse through the pedal when braking, judder through the clutch action, or some other vibration or harmonic that signals something’s not working as it should.
There are a whole list of things that can throw off the finely balanced harmony of a modern engine, whether it's a malfunctioning sensor or spark plug, a clogged-up air intake or emissions-reduction system or something major failing. When an engine isn't right, it won't run right. It might not respond as keenly or smoothly as usual or develop as much power. If you notice your engine is unresponsive, sluggish or not revving out properly, something has gone awry and you should get it checked out.
Correct wheel alignment is an essential part of making a car ride, handle and drive properly. It doesn't take much, however, to throw it out. Simply hitting a pothole or knocking a gutter while parking can be enough. If your steering wheel is crooked, your car pulls to one side or doesn't seem to drive like it usually does, poor alignment or steering/suspension issues are likely culprits. If you want to avoid chewing up tyres prematurely and other potentially costly issues, get it checked out ASAP.