Even in a good economy, people will often try and save money by forestalling an auto repair in order to save the money. We all deal with dings, dents, and scratches without running immediately to the mechanic, because not every sort of auto problem is a sign of imminent danger, some are just annoying sounds and modules that have become worn or broken with time.
However there are plenty of things which should have you calling your mechanic or driving it in for analysis immediately. There's no hard and fast rules about which sounds mean trouble, and which small signs are no big deal.
So it pays to do a few things in order to ensure that you're on top of your vehicle's health, making sure to fix any problems before they become great big problems.
Visually Inspect – Before you get into your car, take a look around and make sure your wheels are all full and riding at about the same height and angle. Sometimes a slow leak leaves a tire flat suddenly, but the driver does not realize this until they're on the road in a potentially dangerous situation.
Take a look under the car to be sure no parts appear loose, and there's no dragging of pieces or flimsily connected components hanging there.
Monitor your gauges and note how the heat, oil, water, and other fluid levels seem. Make sure your temperature appears not only low, but also stable.
Audial Inspection – While everyone loves music while driving, take plenty of time to drive your car and listen to it as it accelerates, as it breaks, when it starts, and how the engine feels as it powers down. There are lots of queues that we have which tell the seasoned mechanic something bad is about to happen. People often are not used to listening close to the needs of their cars, and could potentially be hazardous.
If you hear sounds or see something amiss, write it down and describe it as best you can, so you can easily reproduce the problem for any service person who might inspect your vehicle.
A car is the best way to transport yourself freely and inexpensively, but cars require a lot of maintenance and care as well. Take good care of your vehicle and pay attention to changes in sounds or performance. Also make sure to keep up with your regular scheduled maintenance so that fluid levels and normal wear and tear is erased.