What is the car with the most problems?
Most Challenging Car Problems
Being a mechanic means more than just changing oil and replacing belts. There are a lot of difficult situations that mechanics face on a day-to-day basis. Some problems are definitely more challenging than others. Here are a few of the most challenging car problems that mechanics encounter.
Engine that is hydro-locked
So, you have a customer who decided it might be fun to go puddle jumping in his brand-new Jeep Wrangler. Unfortunately, he forgot that his car wasn’t a boat when he decided to take on that 4-foot puddle in the field behind his house. Now you’ll have to explain that there is water inside of the engine cylinders, which is going to mean major repairs.
When engine cylinders fill with water, the pistons have no place to put it. This can cause all kinds of problems, like bent connecting rods, leaky gaskets and seals, as well as other problems. Often times, the entire engine may need to be rebuilt, which is a difficult fix for any mechanic and an expensive pill for a car owner to swallow.
For some reason, a customer of yours decided that he never wanted to check the oil level in his vehicle. Who needs oil, right? Unfortunately, you’re going to need to tell him that an engine does.
Engine seizure can be caused by several different issues. These include overheating due to insufficient oil or coolant, foreign objects, and rust — to name just a few. Depending on what caused the seizure, you may be able to nurse it back to health. However, it is likely that the entire engine will have to be replaced with a re-manufactured or used engine. That sort of repair could run into the several thousands of dollars. Hopefully, your customer will have learned his lesson.
Head, head gasket, and block problems
Automobiles with a leaky hose, stuck thermostat, or that are low on coolant can easily overheat. In addition to engine seizure, this can cause major problems with the car’s head, head gasket, or block. These problems can often be detected by the presence of coolant in the car’s oil passages or cylinders. Replacing any of these parts is hard work and can cost your customer a fortune.
Oil in the brake system
Finding petroleum-based products — such as oil or transmission fluid — inside the braking system is a major problem. These products can do all kinds of damage to the rubber seals within the system. As a skilled mechanic, you may be able to blow out the lines and replace the master cylinder. It is more likely, however, that you may end up replacing the entire system. Ouch.
Everybody knows how to hook up jumper cables, right? All you have to do is match the colors. Unfortunately, your customer appears to be color blind and reversed the polarity when jump-starting her car. If she is lucky, your mechanic skills might save her some coin by simply replacing the computer. If she was unlucky, the burnt-out wreckage of her former car may end up being hauled away to some scrap yard.
These are just a few of the challenging car problems that mechanics face each day. Learn more about how to handle these problems by checking out one of the mechanic schools below.
- “Top 10 Worst Things Your Mechanic Can Tell You,” Cars.com, May 1, 2012, Tom and Ray Magliozzi, http://www.cars.com/go/advice/Story.jsp?section=top&story=worst-mechanic-diagnosis&subject=more,
- “Worst-Case Scenarios: 8 Biggest Car-Breakdown Headaches,” CBSNews.comm Money Watch, July 12, 2011, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/worst-case-scenarios-8-biggest-car-breakdown-headaches/“Repairing Seized Engines,” Gas Engine Magazine, May/June 2003, Gary W. Grinnell, http://gasengine.farmcollector.com/Gas-Engines/Repairing-Seized-Engines.aspx
Are modern cars less problematic?
There’s a little-known rift in American culture, a division drawn between people who find the cars built in yesteryear to be the most reliable cars and those who find today’s modern cars less problematic to drive.
One can understand why classic car enthusiasts believe that older cars are more reliable than more modern models. Compared to newer cars, classic machines were much more simplistic in the design of their engines. The Volkswagen Beetle of the 1960s, widely considered a very reliable car, used the air that passed around the car during driving to cool the engine instead of liquid coolant. Without this addition, the car was easier — and less problematic — to drive. What’s more, the car was extremely easy for the average person to repair, which isn’t something that many can say about modern cars [source: Holzman]. Of course, not every car in the 1960s was as easy to fix as a Beetle.
However, the general consensus seems to be that modern cars don’t break down as often as older ones. When the U.S. government offered the «Cash for Clunkers» program in 2009, it was intended to stimulate the economy and improve the fuel efficiency of the American cars on the road. It also served as a tacit confirmation that newer cars are better. That might be a controversial claim, but the numbers don’t lie: The car with the record for the most miles driven was a 1989 Saab 900SPG, owned by a Wisconsin traveling salesman who logged 1,001,385 miles in 17 years before retiring it [source: AP].
The decline of car maintenance costs also shows that modern cars are becoming increasingly less problematic. In the United Kingdom, for example, the average cost of maintaining a car declined by 13 percent between 1997 and 2009 [source: Savage]. As a result of this improved reliability, people are hanging onto their modern cars longer than before. In 2009, J.D. Power and Associates reported that the average trade-in age of a car in the U.S. is 73 months. Just three years earlier, the average trade-in age was 65 months [source: Butcher].
One reason for the decrease in car maintenance among modern cars is the advent of the on-board computer. While it provides a distinct advantage in diagnosing car troubles, it can also lead to some problems. Learn more on the next page.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Modern Cars
Because of OBD-II, the process of diagnosing car troubles is exponentially easier among modern cars.
Tim Boyle/Getty Images
Back in the 1970s, the newly established Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued standards for vehicle emissions that all American car manufacturers were required to meet. Because of this mandate, car makers began using electronic equipment to control vehicle functions.
This new equipment dramatically increased the complexity of the systems found in automobiles — and dramatically increased the cost. A 1968 Toyota Corolla, for example, went for about $1,700; the 2009 model started at around $15,000 [source: Edmunds, Cars.com]. This complex system has vastly improved vehicle performance, safety and fuel efficiency, but it has also increased the likelihood of breakdowns. The more interdependent parts a system has, the higher the probability that the system will fail, after all.
The on-board computer has made troubleshooting much easier when something does go wrong, however. During the 1980s, a universal system was established by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) for cars known as the On-Board Diagnostic system (OBD-II). They became mandatory in 1996. When something goes wrong in a car outfitted with OBD-II — you’ll know when you see that «Check Engine» light flash on your dashboard — a mechanic can plug into the computer and receive a code. This code is then cross-referenced with a handbook of codes and their meanings, leading the mechanic to an accurate diagnosis of the car’s problem.
Thanks to OBD-II, car repair can be less expensive, since trial-and-error isn’t necessary. On the other hand, when something does go wrong, the cost of repairing a modern car can be more expensive than it was to fix an older car a few decades ago. The more complex modern engines require designers find creative ways to pack more stuff under the hood. Because of the increased difficulty in managing the number of parts that would require replacement in the event of a crash, the cost of modern cars is more expensive [source: White].
Whether modern cars are less problematic than older ones is a matter of personal opinion. If we mean less problematic for the environment, then the answer is a resounding yes. Are they easier to fix? Certainly. And if that aforementioned 2009 J.D. Power report is any indication, modern cars appear to be growing less problematic for their owners.
Common Car Issues, Complaints, and Problems to Address
Cars are complex machines with thousands of parts that can fail at any moment, so it helps to identify these issues before they cause large-scale damage to your car. Wrench is here to help keep your car running smoothly and on the road. Let’s look at common car issues and how to identify them so you can schedule hassle-free mobile repairs and stay safely on the road.
Car batteries must be replaced every few years to ensure optimal performance for your car. Unfortunately, over time batteries begin to fail and become one of the most common car problems we have to deal with over the years. Sometimes not even a quick boost from jumper cables will help, leaving you to ask, “What is wrong with my car?” again. So, check your car battery regularly and call a mobile mechanic if you notice any signs of a bad battery. These include sluggish start, corrosion, low battery fluid, battery leak, swollen battery case, check engine light, and weak lighting.
Cooling System Failure
Roadside breakdowns are never fun, especially when your car overheats due to cooling system issues. Cooling system issues are common car problems that can wreak havoc on your car’s inner workings if left unrepaired. For example, the cooling system could fail if your car’s temperature gauge shows high temperatures, you see smoke rising from under the hood, white smoke out of the exhaust, or the coolant is low or leaking out. Scheduling a mobile diagnostic can help identify coolant leaks and if the cooling fan, thermostat, sensor, radiator, or other cooling system components need to be replaced.
Power Steering Failure
Changes in your power steering can be unsettling and dangerous, especially when steering becomes difficult or vibrates while driving at high speeds. So, it is important to identify the source of the problem as quickly as possible. Damaged wheels or tires, bearings, suspension, and other issues can cause vibration. However, if the steering is sluggish or you hear whining or squealing when you turn, it is most likely failing power steering components. Power steering issues are common car problems with straightforward repairs, such as power steering pump, hose, or fluid replacement.
At some point, we all have to ask, “What is wrong with my car?” The answer is often a bad alternator. Alternators convert mechanical energy into electrical energy to feed your car’s battery and the electrical systems your car uses to function. A failing alternator transfers the energy inconsistently, causing various system malfunctions. If you have trouble starting the car, stalls, the headlights flicker, dash lights turn on, or you notice strange sounds or aromas, your alternator could be on its way out. Schedule a visit with a mobile mechanic to check and replace the alternator before it completely fails.
Without suspension, you and your car would be in for a rough and tumble ride. So, a healthy suspension is necessary to keep you and your car in one piece. Shock absorbers soften bumps in the road, where struts support steering and alignment. Signs of failing suspension include a bumpier ride, misalignment, oil-covered shocks, irregular wear on the tires, vibration, knocking or rattling sounds, steering wheel shaking, diving when braking, and rolling or lurching during turns. If you notice these signs, book a mobile mechanic to diagnose the issues and make repairs on the spot so you can get safely back on the road.
Poor Brake Performance
One of the worst feelings you can have behind the wheel is not trusting your car’s brakes. If you hear a loud squeaking or squealing sound, it is time to check the condition of the brake pads. If you feel or hear grinding, the brake pads have worn down completely and need immediate attention. Vibration during braking, brake fluid leak, soft brake pedal, diving to one side when braking, and other common car problems are signs your car should be serviced as soon as possible. An ASE-certified mobile mechanic can perform a brake safety inspection and replace brake pads, calipers, rotors, and other braking system components.
Old and Leaking Oil
One of the most common car problems arises from old or leaking oil that can make your car run sluggishly or cause engine components to fail eventually. Oil issues can cause many problems that limit a car’s performance, such as fuel economy. Old oil becomes a thick sludge that makes your car work harder, putting stress on various systems and parts. Further damage to the engine can occur if sludge is allowed to develop or oil leaks are left unrepaired. So, if you notice deteriorating performance, a burning smell, blue or grey smoke from the exhaust, ticking sounds, or the check oil light is on, it’s time for an oil change and service.
Sometimes our cars let us know it’s time to have them checked out in weird and wacky ways. For example, you might see, hear, or smell something out of the ordinary with your car yet can’t find the source. So, rather than wait for it to get worse, it’s a good idea to have a mechanic look at it as soon as possible. A mobile mechanic can identify common car problems through diagnostic services, make the repairs, and get you back on the road safely with the peace of mind your car is running at peak performance.
Take Care of Common Car Problems and Issues With Wrench
Mobile mechanics are the fastest and best way to care for common car issues. Wrench ASE-certified mobile mechanics bring the auto repair shop to you, so you can get on with your day without greasy auto shop waiting rooms or surprise repair costs after work has already been completed.
Our mobile mechanics are car experts specializing in various mobile services to tackle the most common car problems. Some of the most popular mobile services we provide include
- Alternator Replacement
- Battery Replacement
- Brake Caliper Replacement
- Brake Pad Replacement
- Coolant Drain and Fill
- Cooling Fan Replacement
- Diagnostic Service
- Emissions Failure Repair
- Ignition Coil Replacement
- Oil and Filter Change
- Power Steering Pump Replacement
- Radiator Replacement
- Spark Plugs Replacement
- Starter Replacement
- Strut Assembly Replacement
- Thermostat Replacement
- Timing Belt Replacement
- Transmission Fluid Change
- Water Pump Replacement
- Flat Tire Repair
Scheduling these and other Wrench mobile repair services is quick and easy, and you’ll never have surprise costs with our fixed quotes. We even offer towing and roadside assistance programs. You won’t have to worry about being stranded and can rest assured Wrench will have you and your car back on the road quickly and safely.
Partner With Wrench
Wrench makes it simple to schedule mobile repair service at your chosen time and location. So, don’t wait for common car issues to grow into serious damage and costly repairs. Instead, keep your car running smoothly and contact Wrench for a free quote today.
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