How To Diagnose Car Issues Without Any Technical Experience

Most people go to a mechanic first when something goes wrong with their car. However, many individuals are concerned about being taken advantage of by technicians who are skilled at recognizing consumers who are unfamiliar with their vehicles.

As a precaution, you should be able to diagnose some fundamental automotive problems to understand what is going on within your car.

Diagnosing Car Issues

The most obvious place to start is the dashboard symbols. Even the most popular indicator, the check engine light, can be complex due to the vast range of issues it might indicate. The engine temperature light, tire pressure light, and oil light, on the other hand, are much easier to figure out. It does not matter what lights up: Delaying a diagnosis and repair can result in more severe issues in the long run.

Read the Owner’s Manual

If you have just bought a car, it is understandable that you are more anxious to show off your shiny new wheels than read the owner’s manual. However, your previous car may not have had all the modern technology and complicated safety features that the owner’s manual covers.

The suggested repair and maintenance schedule for your car can be found in your owner’s manual. Maintaining your car following the manufacturer’s recommendations will extend its life and ensure its resiliency. When you sell your car, you can even get more money for it. Buying a new car also means learning about the warranty, including what it covers and how to file a claim.

Oil Warning Light

In terms of car issues, an oil warning light is one of the most severe you will ever face. Pull the car over as soon as the light or oil symbol flashes and turn off the engine. A low-pressure warning light might indicate that you have a malfunctioning oil pressure sensor, faulty oil pump, or considerable engine wear. Also, you may have just run out of oil. You can check your oil level on the roadside.

Open the hood and pull out the dipstick using a cloth or tissue. You can see your owner’s manual if you are unsure where it is. Reinsert the dipstick into the dipstick tube after wiping it down with the cloth. Next, check your oil level by reinserting the dipstick. The “FULL” and “ADD” levels are denoted by two markings, notches, or holes on the dipstick. Your oil is low if it falls below the add mark.

You will need at least four quarts of the right oil, which you can find on your car’s filler cap or in the owner’s manual. Then simply top up the oil level on the dipstick with a bit of oil. You can then bring your car to a repair shop to check it for leaks or oil consumption problems.

Dead or Discharged Battery

A drained or dead battery is one of the most often reported issues with cars. For example, suppose your car battery is starting to show signs of unreliability. In that case, you may have a bad alternator, a faulty charging system, a parasitic drain, or you may have left an electrical component on while the car was shut off.

Jump-Starting the Car

You will need a jumper cord and a car with a working battery to achieve this. A jumper wire with positive and negative connectors connects the donor car battery’s positive and negative poles. For a few minutes, start the donor car and let it run. Eventually, your battery will be charged to the point where it can be used to start your car.

Charging the Battery

If you have access to a professional, the best course of action is to have the battery removed and charged by the mechanic. These methods are often effective. However, if you have tried both and your car battery still is not responding, it is time to get a new one.

Tire Pressure

Tires are one of the parts of a car that keep it moving. Long-term use of tires with incorrect pressure might shorten their lifespan or lead to premature tire wear or even burst tires. As a result, the tires must have the proper quantity of air or nitrogen in them. Tire pressure can now be checked at home using simple and affordable instruments. Also, visually inspect the exterior of the tires for any cracks or foreign objects.

Uneven Tire Wear

After a large number of road trips, you may start to observe atypical tire wear. For example, the tread wear of a single tire does not match the rest of the tires. This implies that you must get your wheels balanced right away. The front tires are more susceptible to uneven tire wear since they bear the brunt of the car’s weight and pressure. As a result, the best way to minimize uneven tire wear is to have your wheels balanced or to replace the worn tire.

Engine Overheating

An engine’s combustion process is extremely hot. Therefore, engines have radiators at their disposal to control the temperature at an optimal level for effective combustion. Suppose your car’s temperature gauge turns red and your engine overheats unexpectedly while driving. In that case, you can be sure that your cooling system is malfunctioning.

Engine overheating can be caused by a lack of coolant, which is the most prevalent cause. Because a coolant top-up is usually part of a routine car repair, the most common cause of low coolant is infrequent car maintenance. Keep an eye on the coolant levels in your car if it seems to be frequently overheating.

Out of Fuel

For example, you can find yourself in this situation if your fuel gauge malfunctions or the warning light does not work when you are about to run out of gas in the middle of a road.

Check to see that your fuel gauge and warning light function properly before driving. If not, you will need to contact a repair shop right away to get it back in working order. In addition, you must keep an eye on your fuel gauge to see how much gas you have left.

Reserve gas in another tank and keep it in your car at all times. However, this is restricted in certain areas because of the risk of an explosion.

Exhaust Smoke

White or Gray Smoke

When the coolant is burned together with the fuel, white smoke will be seen coming out of the exhaust pipe. The engine block, cylinder head, and head gasket are all leaking if you see this.

Blue Smoke

An engine oil leak or worn piston rings can cause this by allowing the engine oil to enter the combustion chamber and burn together with gasoline, resulting in the formation of blue smoke.

Black Smoke

A gasoline injector leak, a clogged fuel pressure regulator, or a clogged fuel combustion pipe are all possible causes of this. This is more common in cars that are at least ten years old. 

An expert technician is essential in these cases as the leak must be examined quickly.

Sticking Hood Latch

Despite their basic design, hood latches are subjected to continual exposure to salt and sand, which causes them to harden and stick. In other cases, even opening the hood is impossible since the condition is very severe.

Invest in a can of aerosol rust penetrator and a can of lithium spray. Using the rust penetrant, begin by dousing the latch mechanism in the solution. A spray straw may be used to open a hood if you cannot get the hood open. It is then time to apply an excellent lubricant to the latch. Give it one hour to soak. After that, if it opens, go to the next stage (white lithium) and repeat the process if necessary.

Next, open the hood and apply white lithium oil to the hood latch mechanism. Repeatedly shut and reopen the hood to ensure that the latch is working correctly. Finally, reapply the grease before the winter every year.

Poor Acceleration

Using the mass airflow sensor (MAF), your car’s system determines the volume, mass, and temperature of the air entering the combustion chamber. Afterward, it estimates how much gas to add. This will be a massive problem if the MAF’s detecting elements are unclean. It causes the system to miscalculate how much gas to add, which results in sluggish performance.

A simple cleaning of most MAF sensors may bring them back to optimum operation. For MAF sensor cleaning:

  • Any auto parts shop should have a can of MAF sensor cleaner.
  • The worm drive clamps on the sensor may be loosened with a screwdriver or socket to get it out of the air duct.
  • Direct the spray cleaner toward the MAF housing sensor components.
  • Using your fingers, a towel or a brush to soak the detecting components may shatter.
  • The MAF should be reinstalled when the solvent has dried.

If a dirty sensor caused your acceleration issue, cleaning it should get you back on track. Check with a medical practitioner if the problem persists.

Brake Fluid

Brakes on a car is a complex system. Brake fluid aids in this system’s effective operation. There are ways to guarantee that the brake fluid is not contaminated and present in appropriate quantities. First, look at the amount of brake fluid in the system. For further information, see the car’s user manual. Also, take a look at the fluid’s color. Braking fluid should be replaced when it becomes black (or dark).

Air Filter

Replace the cabin air filter if the car’s air conditioning system is not performing as expected. If you replace it, the air in your car will run cleaner and cool more effectively. In a regular climate, change the filter every year. However, you may need to replace the filter every six months in a tropical climate. Change the cabin air filter according to the owner’s handbook or with the help of a reputable technician. It is generally beneath the glove box, and getting to it is simple.

Why Is Car Maintenance Necessary?

Maintaining a car regularly can save you a hefty amount of money. And rather than that, it can extend your car’s lifespan.

Increases Safety

Increasing your level of safety on the road can be accomplished by doing periodic car maintenance. Parts will not break, and it will prevent worse problems. You can avoid having to deal with a malfunctioning car if you regularly maintain your car and inspect its systems for signs of wear and tear.

Extends the Life of the Car

Several car issues can be avoided by following a regular maintenance program. For example, the last thing you want to happen when you are on the road is for your car to break down. Preventing expensive repairs to the cooling system, transmission, drivetrain, and other components can be accomplished by following a regular maintenance program. In addition, preventive car maintenance helps prolong the life of your car’s engine and other components by reducing wear and tear.

Reduces Repair Costs

The cost of regular maintenance is low, but unexpected repairs and replacements can be costly. There is a reason why an engine and other parts fail. Ignoring maintenance raises minor issues that can become significant with continuing lack of car maintenance.

Maintaining your car regularly helps you detect minor issues like fractures, leaks, and excessive friction wear and tear. To avoid buying a new component for a long time, you should pay attention to these aspects and conduct repairs. Maintaining a car enhances the life of the engine and other parts, hence reducing the need for an early car replacement. In addition, this reduces repair expenses.


To conclude, you must be prepared to deal with any issue that arises along the way. At the very least, you should be able to get to a safe place even if the problem is massive. Many of the problems we face can be simply solved, but our ignorance often prevents us from doing so. We need to keep learning about our cars to prevent any mishaps. Happy driving!

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