And it was all going so well. You began your journey and your car was trundling along just fine. Then disaster happened. The smell of burning, the sight of smoke from under your bonnet, your dashboard flashing with more lights than a Christmas tree… your heart sank as you realised your car was no longer safe to drive, and being the driver you are, you pulled over to consider your next move.
Well, that’s what we hope you would do. When there are signs that your car is in trouble, you do need to stop driving as soon as it is safe to do so. While there are car repairs you can do yourself and the issue may not be as dangerous (or as expensive) as you may think, it’s still wise to call in the professionals to get to the bottom of things. The last thing you should do is to continue driving hoping that all will go well, as you may well make things worse, for you and your car.
Here are some of the danger signs you should look out for when driving.
If there are signs of burning, such as the sight of smoke or the smell of burning, your senses are alerting you to a problem somewhere within your vehicle. For those burning smells, it could be something as simple as dripped oil on your exhaust or too much dust and debris in your heater system. Alternatively, it could be an electrical short or an issue with the brakes. If the burning smell persists after a couple of basic checks, pull over. And as for smoke, it depends on where it is coming from. Black smoke coming from your exhaust may mean your engine is burning too much fuel. This may be an issue with your air filter, so an air filter cleaner may alleviate the issue. If there is smoke coming from under the hood, then the engine may be overheating. In any case, check the source, and if in doubt, call for a breakdown service.
If your car starts to handle differently, then there could be any number of reasons. One of your tyres may have blown, or the wheel may have become loose. There could be a fluid leak within your power steering, or your suspension may have given way. It might even be an issue on the road, with ice or uneven surfaces. For the latter, you at least have the knowledge that your car is okay, but you should still proceed with caution. For anything else, you need to examine your car, put on your spare wheel if needed, or call for help if you are unsure of the problem.
If there are lights on your dashboard lit up, then you need to check your manual. There is also a handy guide here to let you know what each light means. While some don’t require immediate action; there are others, such as your temperature or oil light, that require you to do something about the problem quickly. For the oil light, add more oil (obviously), and for the temperature light, pull over and give your engine an opportunity to cool down. If the light remains on for a prolonged period, call for assistance.
Safety is your number one priority on the road, for your sake and that of other road users. If there are danger signs while driving, don’t take any risks. Pull over, check your vehicle, and if necessary, call for help before driving. You know it makes sense, and despite the expense and inconvenience, you and your car will benefit in the long run if you make an effort to resolve any issues before getting behind the wheel again.