Car trouble can happen to any motorist anytime. The odds of car trouble increase with the age of your vehicle, but even new cars can occasionally have problems. Some car problems are minor, but some may affect driving safety or result in a breakdown that leaves you stranded. In any event, car trouble is somthing you want to avoid.
So how do you avoid car trouble? If you can afford to buy or lease a new car every three or four years, you can probably avoid car trouble completely (or at least expensive auto repairs because the warranty covers most such expenses that might be incurred). New car warranties these days are typically 3 years or 36,000 miles or longer, with many having extended powertrain warranties of 5 years or 60,000 miles, and a few up to 10 years or 100,000 miles (Kia & Hyundai).
If you can't afford to trade cars so often, you'll have to make do with driving an older high mileage vehicle. To avoid car trouble with an older vehicle, preventive maintenance is an absolute must. Take good care of your car and it should provide reliable transportation for you. Preventative maintenance usually cost much less than the repairs that result from maintenance neglect, so maintain your vital fluid levels, change the oil and filters at the recommended invervals, and take care of smmall problems befoe they turn into expensive problems.A car that is not reliable is a car you cannot depend on. Yet if you drive your vehicle long enough, sooner or later you will have problems with it. Nothing lasts forever, and electronic and mechanical components are no exception. Some parts like brakes, tires and clutch linings wear with mileage and use. Other parts such as the battery, spark plugs, filters and wiper blades have a limited service life. The big expensive components like the engine and transmission are supposed to last the life of the vehicle (with proper maintenance), which today should be 150,000 to 200,000 miles. But some parts fail to go the distance and fail.
The Worst Kind of Car Trouble
The worst kind of car trouble is a breakdown or problem when you are out of town or traveling in an unfamiliar area far from home. Maybe the Check Engine Light just came on. Usually this is NOT a serious problem, but it should be checked out when you return home. Of more concern would be a sudden change in the way your engine runs, the way your vehicle steers, handles or brakes, or an unusual noise or vibration.
If your engine won't start, is making unusual noises or is overheating, you have a problem that requires immediate attention. These kinds of problems can leave you stranded and at the mercy of repair facilities who may try to take advantage of your situation.
If your vehicle is still under warranty, drive it or have it towed to the nearest new car dealer (if possible).
If you vehicle is out of warranty and you are having car trouble, look for a shop that is a member of AAA (American Automobile Assn.) or ASA (Automotive Service Assn.). You could also take your vehicle to a new car dealer, but they will likely have higher labor rates than an independent repair facility. Also, look for a shop that displays signage that their technicians are ASE certified.
Communicate clearly with the service writer, shop owner or technician as to the nature of your car trouble. Describe what is happening, when it is happening and any other information that may help them accurately diagnose your problem. Also, be sure to mention any other recent repairs or service that has been performed on your vehicle.
Do NOT tell the repair shop or technician what to fix or replace. That's their job. After diagnosing your vehicle, they should let you know what they have found, what they think is wrong, what needs to be repaired, how long it will probably take, and then hand you a written repair estimate as to how much everything should cost (parts and labor, plus any additional charges or fees).
It's no secret that some cars are more trouble than others. Some have a great reputation for reliability and dependability while otheConsumer Reports publish vehicle reliability reports, rating the best and the worst vehicles in terms of repair frequency. If possible, avoid buying a vehicle with a poor reliability rating and try to buy one that has a high reliability rating. Following this advice is no guarantee you won't have car trouble, but the odds should be much less driving a vehicle that has a high reliability rating.