If you always drive with your windows up and the stereo on loud you may well miss the tell-tale noises and signs that are warnings there may be a problem with your car. Regular servicing will help to pick up any issues before they become a serious problem and end up costing more in the long-term! Don’t take unnecessary risks with your safety!

Top 5 warning signs your car may have a problem:

  1. Noises
  2. Smells
  3. Slow to start
  4. Engine temperature warning light
  5. Oil pressure light

Noises
If you notice a new noise, a hissing, a rattling or banging sound then chances are something has gone wrong. A hissing could indicate a loose or split hose or a leak in a tyre. Rattling could be a bearing issue or something has been shaken loose like a bolt or bracket. These noises need to be identified quickly and chances are they can be fixed quickly and cheaply before they cause more serious or expensive problems.

Smells
If your car has a catalytic converter and you smell rotten eggs, you should get it checked out. Smelling fuel while your driving is not a good sign and should be checked out along with the smell of oil. Oil patches on the ground after being parked are a pretty good indicator your car is leaking oil from somewhere.

Slow to Start
Is your car happy? If your car starts to become a little unreliable to start on a cold morning it may be signs of a problem with the alternator. Ignoring this and repeatedly jump starting your car will eventually drain the battery and you will end up needing to replace the alternator and the battery!

Engine Temperature Light
Never ignore this light! The number one cause of engine failure is overheating. It could be a simple fix of low coolant and if you ignore this light your car will eventually overheat and die. Then you will likely need a whole new engine! Hint: only check coolant levels when the car has been idle (not running) i.e. when cold.

Oil Pressure Light
The oil light coming on could simply be that your oil level is low. If after checking the oil level is the correct level and the light still comes on you will need a professional check-up to see if you have a pump problem. A car starved of oil will not function for long and the damage will be expensive to fix!

3 easy checks you can do once a month:

  1. Check your oil.
  2. Check your engine coolant.
  3. Check your transmission fluid level.

Why get a full service?

For older models of vehicles, an oil and filter change is recommended every six months or 10,000km (whichever comes sooner) as an absolute minimum. New vehicles usually need to be serviced as a condition of the warranty offered by the dealer and may be included in your purchase conditions, at least for the first two years.

A full service will likely cost between $500 and $600 in New Zealand and include some or all of the following checks:

  • Change oil and air filters
  • Change engine oil
  • Remove wheels to check, clean and adjust brakes as needed
  • Replace spark plugs
  • Change brake fluid and transmission oil
  • Check and top up all other fluid levels
  • Full Safety check
  • Road test

A Warrant of Fitness (WOF) is required for your vehicle in New Zealand if your vehicle is over 6 years old. Less than 6 years old and you only need to get a WOF every 12 months. A WOF will identify some issues to keep your vehicle roadworthy. However, WOF’s cannot be relied on to pick up all potential problems, which is why regular servicing is highly recommended.

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