We all know that sinking feeling -- your car won't start, smoke rises from the engine and that grinding noise is back.
Car trouble can wreck havoc on your schedule and your checkbook; and while you can't predict when your car's engine will stop cooperating, it helps to know or have an idea what to expect when the mechanic diagnosis the problem.
From melted motors to sub-par superchargers, here are the worst things to hear at the mechanic and how you might be able to avoid them.
"Your Engine Seized"
Cause: This well-oiled machine lost its oil, leaving the hot metal parts grinding against each other to carry out their respective tasks. The result isn't pretty — an unsalvageable hunk of metal that couldn't power a box car, let alone your vehicle. Rent a car and open up the checkbook; you need a new engine.
How to Avoid: Check your oil regularly. If the level is low, get the car to a mechanic immediately. Also, change your oil every 4,000 to 5,000 miles to avoid your engine suffering a slow, costly death.1 Set aside money for little things and avoid a big disaster. If necessary, consider a loan to help maintain your vehicle. Understand the terms and laws before you sign on the dotted line. Loans are not all created equal. For example, a payday loan in Ohio might have harsher late fees than a New Mexico payday loan.
"You Blew a Gasket"
Cause: Coolant leaked from the radiator, then your engine started seeing mirages and tropical landscapes until it collapsed in the desert — which, in technical terms, means it burned a head gasket off. This leads to a cracked block, which leads to engine failure.2 Each one of these repairs takes significant time and money.
How to Avoid: Much like the oil solution, avoiding overheating comes down to proper habits. Peek at the dashboard temperature gauge frequently, and if it rises above the normal level, check the coolant. If the coolant is leaking, take the car into the mechanic to seal it up.
"It's Your Hybrid Powertrain"
Cause: The electric motor's inverters and converters create the energy, but when these get too hot, they can't function. That's why hybrid cars have thorough cooling systems. When something compromises the cooling system, the electric components become vulnerable. You'll pay a high premium for an electro-mechanic to fix the hybrid powertrain.
How to Avoid: Be diligent in checking the cooling system. Keep the front grille free of debris and head to a mechanic at the first sign of increasing heat. The money you might save in the long run is worth the extra check-up.
"We Need to Replace Your Fuel Injection Pump"
Cause: Gradual wear and tear is the main culprit of a worn-down fuel pump. Although, an extended period of time without lubricating the pump (driving the vehicle) can accelerate the process.3
How to Avoid: Use the right grade of gasoline when you fill up your engine, and try not to go to long with low levels of gas, you're starving you vehicle — it's hungry.