A number of Ugandans drive cars that have all kinds of rattling, humming, roaring sounds. Thing is, more often than not, these sounds get worse but for some reason many choose to ignore them, not knowing that they are warning signs of impending trouble. Knowing the warning signs of looming trouble can go a long way toward keeping your car from a frustrating breakdown.
Donald Lule, a senior motor vehicle section inspector with Nakawa Vocational Institute, reveals that one needs to develop an awareness of how their car should sound. For instance, when you turn the key to start, the gear-like sound of the starter motor engaging should be smooth and sound like an electric motor working hard to crank the engine. If you notice a different sound such as a grinding or struggling slow start but eventually the car starts, chances are you have a starter motor problem or battery problem about to happen.
He continues to say that if you are driving and feel the steering wheel vibrating at certain speeds, the onset of this subtle vibration could tip you off to a tire that needs to be balanced, worn steering linkage or a bulge in a tire that may be about to blow out. In any case, the vibration needs attention.
Normally you should not notice the sound of the exhaust system. A sudden change in your car’s sound, therefore, should not be ignored. Suppose you are used to a pleasant hum, then, perhaps after a major bump or when starting up the car one morning, there is a loud roaring that sounds subtly like a rally car. The harder you press the pedal the louder the noise becomes. This simply means the exhaust gases are blowing out under the car rather than at the rear of the car, a condition that shall be felt deeply at the pump.
Brakes play their own warning tune. On many cars, a low-brake warning device causes a scratching noise coming from the wheels that stops when you stop pressing on the brake pedal. Its purpose is to warn you that you need front brake pads. A loud grinding noise when you step on the brake pedal is an alarm that your brakes need immediate attention. The grinding noise occurs when the brake pads are totally worn away and the metal of the brake pad backing plate rubs directly on the brake rotor. Ignoring grinding brakes can be a costly or even deadly error like say an accident.
Engine noises are easiest to hear when the car is not moving. Transmission sounds or brake noises usually occur when the car is moving. Pay attention to any new sound and you might want keep notes how it sounds, when it makes the sound and what difference, if any, occurs in driving when the noise is present to help you describe it to your mechanic. Trust me he/she’d be more than happy to hear you mimic this noise, heck you could even use your phone to record the sounds.
Lastly, there is the usual rattling you cannot miss in any old car. This is fittings loosening up because of the banging and beat ups your car gets over its years of service. These are hard to get rid of and if you really must, find the right garage or simply learn to ignore them. More importantly noises in your car only get worse and are indications of something that might need you to visit a mechanic sooner rather than later.
Your owner’s manual is the solution to preventing many common vehicle problems in the first place. Refer to it regularly, follow its recommendations, listen to what your vehicle is trying to tell you, and act on those warning signs if you want to experience fewer vehicle-related problems.
How often should you service your car?
A tune-up is a major service that includes an oil change, replacement of an engine air filter, spark plugs and possibly a few additional items. It is not a solution for all car problems, but rather a preventative maintenance for your engine. A major tune-up is usually recommended if a car starts running poorly.