If you’re not very nitpicky in maintaining your auto, you may have overlooked some seemingly minor issues in your car. But inspecting for problems can be tricky, as you can miss a telltale sign of damage without meaning to. This is especially true if you own a used car, without its full history in your knowledge.

The longer the maintenance issues in your car go unnoticed, the more severe they can get. The worst-case scenario is you realizing the damage only when it has already compromised your safety on the road. You may be driving along the I-5 and suddenly, your brakes have stopped working.

Before the worse comes to worst, do a thorough car inspection and check if any of these problems have been plaguing it:

1. Missing Air Bags

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), nearly one in five fatal car accidents involves missing airbags. This should be your concern if you drive a used car. Seek out its crash history from its previous owner to confirm if the airbags have been deployed.

The risk in doing this, however, is hearing an unfavorable answer when you already bought the car. Hence, it’s better to ask about the airbags before closing a deal. In any case, here’s how to tell if the airbags have been deployed:

  • Buy a copy of the vehicle’s history if you can’t get one for free. Have a mechanic review the report and perform an impartial inspection.
  • Look and feel for any unevenness in the airbag cover. If you found a seam or noticed that the vehicle’s manufacturer emblem and the SRS logo aren’t present anymore, that means the airbags are no longer inside.
  • Inspect the dashboard. If the airbags have been deployed, the dashboard would’ve been replaced too.
  • Check the airbag indicator light. When you turn the ignition key to the first position, the airbag indicator light should turn on.

Even if you drive with care at all times, a reckless motorist can still harm you. If the car’s airbags are missing, you can sustain serious injuries even if the crash isn’t that severe.

2. Fender Benders

Bumpers that look fine can still conceal some issues. Even a minor fender bender can have an effect on the engine. If your used car has an unknown past, have a mechanic inspect the bumper.

A bumper doesn’t need to look hopeless before it requires replacement. If you see a minor crack on the bumper cover, that means the structural integrity of the bumper has already decreased. It will absorb less shock, let moisture into the engine, and cause the development of rust.

Damaged tabs and clips are another red flag. Some people try to fix it with glue, but that’s just a band-aid solution. To ensure your safety, replace the bumper cover.

3. Broken Headlight Lenses

A car’s headlight lenses tend to suffer scratches over time. This causes the surface to blur, affecting your visibility when you drive at night, or during bad weather. Check your headlights for gouges, cracks, or moisture; any presence of those indicates that the seal has broken. The damage will soon affect the lights, making them dimmer or stop working after a short while.

4. Unbalanced Tires

If you feel a vibration on the steering wheel every time you drive, chances are the tires are unbalanced. It adds strain to the suspension and bearings, causing a rough drive. Take it to a mechanic or buy a wheel balancer. Letting this issue pass will cause many inconveniences in the long run, like needing road assistance.

5. Animal Damage

During freezing weather, small animals like to take shelter in your car’s engine area. Cats and squirrels do this the most. Hence, before taking off on a fine cold day, don’t forget to check your engine. If an animal isn’t present, but stashes of leaves, twigs, or nuts are gathered under the hood or near your car, proceed to inspect the wiring. Those things are signs that an animal has taken shelter in the engine area. You need to check the wiring because the animal might’ve chewed on it.

car problem hood up

Short Maintenance Pointers

All parts of a car should be properly maintained, but some require more attention than others. These include the lights, mirrors, tires, oils, the windshield, the brakes, and the ignition system. Stay updated on your regular maintenance schedule, and address problems immediately.

Some people don’t follow their vehicle’s regular maintenance schedule for various reasons. But there is no valid excuse for doing such. Failing to follow your manufacturer’s maintenance requirements may void your car’s warranty. In addition, some unnoticeable problems are detected during a maintenance check. So unless you’re a mechanic, then you need a pro’s help in keeping your auto in good shape.

As with any problem with anything in life, minor issues in cars can also blow up with neglect. Don’t wait for the worst to come before learning your lesson!