When Does Your Car Need a Mechanic Right Away?

It may be said that problems with your car should never be ignored, as they aren't likely to fix themselves and may wind up costing you more money in repair bills the longer you put off addressing them. However, some problems might not mean an immediate need for a car mechanic, and they can be addressed when it's most convenient, versus being an automotive emergency. Note how to tell the difference and what some common car problems might mean by way of urgent repairs versus those that can wait for some time.

1. Sputtering and stalling

A car might sputter and stall because there is water in the gas line or because you bought a low-quality fuel that doesn't maintain combustion in the engine. You might try running your car until the tank is almost empty and then filling up on some high-quality fuel, and do this more than once to allow all the bad fuel to burn away. This can also remove water in the fuel lines. 

However, if the problem persists, this might be an oxygen sensor. This tells the engine how much oxygen to bring in so that it can mix with fuel and maintain combustion. This problem may just get worse with time as the sensor continues to break down, and eventually your car's engine won't run at all. If the new fuel doesn't address this problem, have the sensors checked and replaced. 

2. Brakes squealing

If the brake pads and other parts are wet, they might squeal as they rub against each other. If it's very rainy out or you've been driving through a wet, snowy, icy, or muddy road, you might see if the problem fixes itself as they get warm and dry over time. If the squealing is accompanied by a loss of power in the brakes or it doesn't clear up after a few dry days, this can mean that the pads or rotors are worn down. In this case, you need those parts replaced as soon as possible.

3. Pulling to one side

If your tires are out of alignment or not balanced, your car might pull slightly to one side. This can eventually cause excessive wear on the tires since they're not evenly gripping the road. It's good to get this problem addressed when you can, but if your car is pulling so firmly that you struggle to control it or notice that it skids and slides when you brake, you need to see a mechanic right away. Your steering column may be failing or your wheels may be so out of alignment that the brakes cannot grip the wheels and, in turn, you're not safe on the road.