Every experienced driver knows that strange sounds are often one of the first signs of trouble with their vehicle. These noises might be hard to hear over the usual combination of engine noise, exhaust noise, and road noise, but they can serve as subtle indications that something isn't right. Despite your car crying out for help, it can be easy to ignore some early warning signs, especially if your budget is tight.
As with most repair issues, putting off a proper evaluation usually doesn't end well. Many car problems can go from relatively inexpensive to much more severe when they are ignored. Even worse, you may be putting yourself or other drivers at risk. If you're in the habit of writing off minor noises with your car, check out these three reasons why it might be a good idea to schedule a visit with a mechanic as soon as possible.
1. Brakes Do More Than Squeak
You probably know that squealing brakes are a bad sign, but a loud squeak is hardly the only indication that your braking system might be in trouble. Your brakes deal with tremendous amounts of force as they convert your car's kinetic energy into heat. Unfortunately, this means they can fail in a variety of different ways.
In addition to squealing, you'll want to listen for grinding or rattling noises. These sounds may indicate metal-on-metal contact, which could mean that your brakes have worn well beyond the point where you'll hear squealing. You should always consider any unusual braking sound an emergency and schedule a visit with a service center as soon as you can.
2. You Can't Rely on Sensors
Modern engines rely on sensors to maximize performance and efficiency, but that doesn't mean you can rely on them to tell you when something is wrong. Nearly every vehicle now includes an oil level sensor, and some no longer have a physical dipstick. However, a failing oil sensor may be unable to report low oil levels.
In these cases, strange noises from your engine bay might indicate that your oil level is dangerously low. Allowing this problem to progress to the point where your low oil pressure light comes on could lead to irreversible and incredibly costly damage. As a result, it's much safer to investigate any unusual noise you hear from your engine bay.
3. An Ounce of Prevention Is Worth a Pound of Cure
It's usually cheaper to deal with any problem earlier, even if it will not lead to a four-figure repair bill. Even relatively minor issues like failed sensors can cause your car to run poorly, leading to poor fuel economy and higher receipts at the pump. Using your ears to alert you to trouble as early as possible allows you to fix issues with your car and save money at the same time.
Contact a local auto mechanic to learn more.