Man replacing a car battery

Top 10 car problems to tackle now before they get out of hand

From time to time, everyone’s cars will run into a problem. There are a lot of common issues that are easy to fix, especially if you get on with them sooner rather than later.

Take a look at our list of top 10 common issues that are simple to fix.

  1. Worn brake pads
  2. Slow punctures / flat tires
  3. Cracked windshield
  4. Radiator leak
  5. Broken headlamps/bulbs
  6. Battery – starting your car
  7. Changing the oil
  8. Faulty spark plugs
  9. Smaller problems
  10. Squeaky belts

Worn brake pads

Replacing the brake pads on a car

One of the most common problems you will come across on your car is worn brake pads. Despite what people may think, replacing your brake pads is fairly straight forward.

Brake pads should be inspected every 12 months or so when your car is serviced. Unfortunately, this could potentially be overlooked or perhaps they believe there is enough padding on there to last another 6 months or so.

Some cars will have a sensor that appears on the dashboard to let you know the pads are getting thin. As this is not a feature on all cars it is helpful to know what to look out for to understand if it is your brakes that are causing an issue.

One of the easiest ways of knowing if your brake pads need changing is the sound. The tires will make a horrible squealing sound when applying your breaks and possibly even when you’re not.

Another way to tell is if your car is pulling toward one side when travelling in a straight line on a flat road.

How do I replace my brake pads?

Before you start, make sure that the brakes are cold and you have all the correct tools beforehand.

  1. Raise the car up on a jack and support the vehicle with jack stands
  2. Next, you need to remove the wheel to gain access to the brakes
  3. Once this is done, clean the brakes with a degreaser such as Transyl
  4. Remove the calliper, then remove the pads from the calliper
  5. Examine the disc and brake lines to make sure there is no other underlying issue
  6. Insert the new pads into the calliper and replace the calliper along with any necessary clips
  7. Check the brake fluid level as this could be contributing to the problem as well
  8. Refit the wheel back on to the car
  9. Jack up the car again to remove the jack-stands
  10. Lower the vehicle and use a torque wrench to tighten the wheel nuts

What if the pads look in good condition?

Transyl and brake pads

If you have removed and had a look at your brake pads and they seem to look good and have no real wear on them, you may not need to replace them.
In this case, we would recommend using something like Transyl.

Transyl Oil is a multi-functioning lubricating, self-spreading liquid that also dissolves and removes dirt, grease, and grime. It leaves a thin protective film on the surface to protect against moisture and oxidation. Available in a 400ml spray can.

Remember, you don’t want to put any kind of lubricant onto the actual surface area of the brake pad. The surface of the pad causes friction which makes the breaks work.

However, there are a few moving parts to brake pads which may need lubricating and/or cleaning which can be safely done to make everything work smoothly.

Slow punctures / Flat tires

Car with a flat tire

Flat tires and blowouts are usually due to external forces such as hitting objects, driving over potholes or possibly even factory defects.

Treadwear is normal and overtime tires will need to be replaced – it’s inevitable. However, there are a few ways you can help to prolong the life of your tires.

It is recommended by most car manufacturers that you rotate your tires around your car every 5,000 miles or so (usually around the time you should be changing your engine’s oil).

Keeping them full of air to the correct PSI and checking them regularly for any obstructions such as stones, nails or even thorns will also help.

Some tires can be repaired depending on where the damage is, which can be a cheaper alternative to replacement.

Be aware that if your tires are wearing out unevenly or that the steering wheel shakes as you drive, there may be a problem with the suspension. This is something that is not so easy to fix – we would recommend seeking advice from a mechanic.

Cracked windshield

Windscreen being replaced

Sadly a cracked windshield is all too common. For most people, it starts with just a chip or two from a stone that has flicked up while driving. Having a chip on two on the glass is something a lot of people don’t deal with in time, which sadly then turns it into a crack.

Having a cracked windscreen is dangerous and should be replaced as soon as possible. Driving with a cracked windscreen will alter the structural integrity of the entire screen which puts yours and your passenger’s safety at risk.

This is because windshields are vital when it comes to airbags. A windscreen that is damaged can become detached when the airbag deploys which would also cause the airbag to inflate over the dashboard, avoiding the vital protection needed for the passenger/driver.

If your windscreen is cracked you can usually get a replacement on your insurance with just the excess to pay. This is something that will vary from policy to policy so be sure to check yours before paying a hefty bill to replace it.

There are a lot of places where you can get your cracks filled in very cheaply, usually in the region of £25. Or, you can even do it yourself. There are many shops and places online where you can get a tube of resin specifically designed for use on car windshields.

If you are looking to save money this is a very cheap alternative, usually in the region of £5 – £10. We do, however, recommend following the instructions carefully and only use it if it is applicable for the size chip you have.

Radiator Leak

Car radiator

When it comes to having a radiator leak, corrosion is the typical culprit. However, knowing that is is corrosion still doesn’t make it an easy thing to diagnose.

The cause could be poor maintenance, contaminated fluid or even a factory defect.

General patches in your radiator are usually fine short term, but generally speaking, it is usually more sensible to replace the radiator.

If you want to go down the small patch route, there are a variety of brands of radiator sealer that can be found at a lot of shops or online.

This is because when you get a leak it means corrosion has already set in and more leaks will soon follow.

However, you decide to go about it we highly recommend you do not drive your car until it is fixed. A radiator leak can lead to overheating and potentially even an engine fire!

Broken headlamps/bulbs

Man replacing a light bulb

This is such an easy problem to fix – especially getting a new bulb! Bulbs are very cheap and can be found in many shops or online. Some shops will even come out an fit them for you! However, it is very easy to replace your bulbs so if you feel confident enough to do it, we recommend giving it a go.

It takes approximately 5 mins and all you need is the new bulb.

  1. Firstly, open the bonnet and locate the back of the headlight housing
  2. Next, remove any cover that surrounds the bulb to locate it
  3. Remove the bulb and replace it with the new one*
  4. Once the bulb is securely connected, return the headlamp unit and replace any covers
  5. Finally, test that your bulb is working correctly

And that’s it! Super easy and cheap.

*Try to not touch the bulb with your skin. This is because the oil from your skin will heat up the bulb and cause damage to the glass.

Replacing the actual headlamp assembly is also something that can be replaced without seeing a mechanic. This is something that will vary slightly from model to model, so be sure to check you are purchasing the right one for your car.

Battery – starting your car

Man replacing a car battery

Struggling to start your car is a common problem. Most car batteries should last around 3 years or so or around 50,000 miles.

While some times batteries can become flat from accidentally leaving your lights on, some batteries will just be coming up to the end of their life.

Dead batteries are most commonly caused by a drop in amps which, when decreased, will lose its ability to maintain charge.

On top of that, if you have a damaged alternator or battery temperature sensor this can decrease the life of your battery.

Some times getting a jump start every now and then is all that is needed, but usually, it will just be easier to get a replacement.

Some batteries can be very expensive. However, you can always go to a scrap yard where you can get one that is relatively new and for a fraction of the price.

In any case, it is usually recommended to replace your battery after around 3 years.

Changing the engine oil

Man replacing engine oil

Like changing over brake pads, another thing people are cautious of doing themselves is changing the engine oil.

Changing your car’s oil is a fairly straight forward thing to do. Once you have the know-how you will become faster each time you do it.

Your engine requires sufficient lubrication to keep all the parts from overheating. Changing the oil regularly makes sure everything works as optimally as possible.

  • Check the oil and filter that is recommended by your vehicle manufacturer – using an incompatible oil could be dangerous so be sure you use the correct one
  • Run the car’s engine for approximately 5 mins – this will warm the oil and allow the oil to drain easier
  • Secure the car on a flat and stable area and raise it – use jack stands to help keep the car up safely and securely
  • Drain the old oil – remove the sump plug with a spanner and have a container ready to catch the oil as it will start to drain immediately. Wait several minutes for it to stop dripping and then screw the sump plug back in.
  • Remove the filter and clean the filter compartment – using old clean rags clean the filter compartment until you can no longer remove any of the old oil
  • Place the new filter into place – when changing your engine oil it is always recommended to replace the oil filter and even the o-rings
  • Add in the new oil – the oil cap is located on top of your engine. Use a funnel and pour in the correct amount that your engine needs (check with your manufacturer). Then close and tighten the cap
  • Next, start your engine – let it run for a few mins to allow the new oil to circulate around the engine and check for any leaks
  • Check the oil level – Allow the car to cool for a few mins and use the dipstick to check the levels (it should be between min and max)

Faulty Spark plugs

Replacing your spark plugs

Are you are finding it difficult to start your car or does it sound a little odd when idling? Then there’s a chance your spark plugs are faulty.

This is an issue that is particularly common in older vehicles.

Spark plugs are designed to ignite the compressed fuel in the engine of the car. An aged or dirty spark plug could end up misfiring and so the engine won’t start or run properly. This can also result in inefficient fuel economy which can cause serious long-term damage to the engine.

Spark plugs are fairly cheap and easy to fix.

  • Open up the bonnet and remove any HT leads or other obstacles in the way
  • Brush away and surrounding dirt
  • Unscrew the spark plugs with a socket spanner and remove them
  • Apply copper grease on the threads of each of the new plugs then screw them in
  • Tighten them off with a torque wrench
  • Reconnect the HT leads and move back any other parts previously removed

Smaller problems

Man replacing wiper blades

Cleaner fluid, faulty windows and broken wiper blades. All problems that are super easy to fix.

Topping up your screen-wash, for example, is cheap and incredibly easy to do. It could even potentially help you out of a bad situation.

Some times birds may leave a mess on your car, or you may have to drive down a particularly dirty/dusty road. If you’re ever caught without screen-wash, it could be very dangerous as you cannot clear your field of view.

Faulty windows are not only a nuisance but can also make it attractive to thieves. A lot of the time window fixes aren’t that complicated. It’s just gaining access to the correct area which can take time.

Replacing your wiper blades is so cheap and easy. Simply slide out the old one and slide in the new one – done!

Squeaky belts

Car fan belt

A belt that has gone bad is usually quite easy to diagnose and spot. The intense squeaking noise it gives off is very annoying, but the damage it’s causing is more of a concern.

If you open up your bonnet you will see the belt beginning to fray and crack. This is simple to replace so long as you are prepared.

Make sure you have a belt diagram, which you can find in your car manual, or alternatively, take a picture of it in the engine before removal. This is a necessary step as you need to know which path the belt takes.

Once you have this information, use a ratchet to loosen off the tension arm. This will free the belt. With the pulleys now exposed, make sure that there is no excess rubber, grime, oil etc that will increase the belt disintegration.

Use your diagram/photos to reroute the new belt back on, lock the tension arm back into place and you’re ready to go!

We hope you found this post helpful.

If you have any other handy tips or advice, please feel free to leave them in the comments below.

We love hearing from you! If you share your project on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest please feel free to tag us @owatrolUK or use #owatroluk so we can see and share your hard work!

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Owatrol Team
About Owatrol Team

Our team are ready and willing to support you with your requirements whether it is protecting your newly laid deck or renovating a luxury yacht, whatever the application Owatrol has the solution you are looking for.

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