Most repair shops have closed during the pandemic, leaving car owners to do car maintenance at home. While there are reputable online tutorial videos that offer legit and correct information, there is still misinformation online, which can do vehicle owners more bad than good.

While you may have been successful at doing most of your repairs yourself, there’s still a need to bring your vehicle to a trusted auto repair shop to deal with specific issues. Here are three signs to look out for:

Switched On Indicator Lights

The indicator lights on the dashboard are there for a reason and should not be ignored. When any of the indicator lights come on, it’s a sign that you need to bring your vehicle in for a checkup. A check engine light, for example, can be a signal of a malfunction in any of the following: emissions, exhaust, fuel, or ignition.

That said, it’s definitely something that shouldn’t be ignored and death with as soon as possible. The cause of the problem may be as simple as a loose gas cap or a faulty sensor, which any car owner can check on their own. But if after doing the basic troubleshooting steps and the check engine light still persists, it’s best to have a professional mechanic take a look at the issue and fix it before it causes more problems.

The Occurrence of Odd Smells

A clean car is odor-free. Therefore, if you start to notice strange smells lingering inside your vehicle, it’s another sign that you need a professional to inspect it to see what’s going on.

A moldy smell can occur when there are loose or worn weather strips on the windows of your vehicle, allowing water to ingress. You may live in a sunny area where it hardly rains but you can also get water in the cabin from doing a car wash. And as we all know, a wet interior translates to moldy odor — nobody wants that.

Another concerning type of odor would be burnt smells. It could be from a burned-out electrical fuse, or worn-out brake pads (metal on metal rubbing).  It can also be from a loose belt or rubber hose that has come in contact with hot engine parts, causing the material to react and emit a funny smell.

Aside from those, you might also notice the smell of fumes like fuel and exhaust fumes — poor or degraded window seals might be one of the culprits and need replacement, but there could be other causes, too. To be safe, it’s best to bring your vehicle in for inspection.

Signs of Fluid Leaks


If you come across a puddle of liquid below the engine bay or near the left rear tire of your vehicle, it’s best to have the leak resolved right away. Leaking fluids can quickly decrease the amount of fluid that your car needs to run on optimum condition.

A leaking and emptied differential fluid, for example, can affect the differential setting in the transmission system and cause it to get stuck, where the rear axles won’t turn. This can cause the vehicle to be immovable and stem into other costly damage. Typically, you’ll notice a burnt smell due to the parts heating up from the lack of lubrication — because of a leak problem. As is the case for the loss of brake fluids.

As there are many fluid tanks located in the engine bay, self-diagnosing your vehicle’s leak problem may have you relying on the color and texture of the liquid that you find pooling on the floor. There are some fluids that give off a “sweet” burnt odor like that of a burnt power-steering fluid. Just like the fluid leak problems mentioned above, this should be addressed immediately, as it can affect the driveability of your vehicle.

Suffice to say that a burnt smell is more often than not an indication of a fluid leak problem, resulting in the lack of fluid that affects the proper lubrication of moving parts. Echoing the point mentioned above — odd smells — when you start smelling something funny and have been observing leaks from time to time, best to have it sorted by a professional mechanic and top up all the lost fluids.

Your vehicle runs on different types of fluid, and most of the fluid tanks are located in the engine bay. It’s very easy to measure the fluid level as there are dipsticks in each tank. While you can do this yourself and you can regularly top up loss fluids from any leaking tank, it’s best to have it fixed because no-leak is still the best way to go.

Every self-respecting vehicle owner, for sure, knows how to DIY repairs but also knows when it’s time to take the unit to the pros at a car repair shop. Finding the root of the problem and using the proper solution to fix it is the best way to extend the lifespan of your vehicle and prevent costly repairs from happening later on. If you find any of the warning signs mentioned above or feel that you need to take your vehicle for a check-up, don’t hesitate to do so. Always remember: prevention is better than cure.

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