Knowing your own vehicle: How to spot issues with your car

Knowing your own vehicle: How to spot issues with your car 8th May 2015

There are many things that can go wrong with your car that need fixing in order to keep it safe and roadworthy. And while some of these can be hard to spot, giving yourself the chance by making sure you diagnose problems early can mean you are able to have issues resolved before they get worse and cost even more to rectify. 

Vehicle health checks and MOTs are great for highlighting problems within a vehicle, but it can often be the case that simply knowing your own car is the best way to see when something is wrong, allowing you to take it to an expert to have it fixed as soon as possible. 

If you know your own car, you can tell when something's wrong, and this is a way to gain a real advantage. So what should you be looking out for in terms of problems with your car?


If you notice any noises coming from the car that are different to normal, it can be the first sign that something needs to be fixed. Brakes are the most likely to exhibit this particular symptom, and if you hear rubbing or grinding when you press the brakes, it's worth having them checked out. Applying them gently when driving slowly will help you ascertain whether a noise was an indication of something going wrong, or simply a one off.

Other parts of the car that can make noises are the engine. Often, before a problem really show up, drivers will report the engine labouring, being noisier or quieter than normal or knocking. If you experience any of these problems, you should take it to be checked out straight away. 

Warning lights

Warning lights should be a fairly obvious sign of something being wrong with the car, but in many cases people will simply ignore the dashboard indicators, either because they are worried about the cost of repairs or do not know what the light means. 

It's always worth making sure a warning light is not a serious concern, so if you don't know what a light means, have a look in the vehicle's manual so you know where the problem is and can have it addressed. 


If you notice that your car is producing smoke from under the bonnet, this should be something that you never ignore. In most cases, people will know that it's obvious they need to take it straight to a centre to have it checked and repaired. 

However, it's not just the bonnet you need to keep an eye on. When looking in the rear view mirror of the car, if you can see more smoke than usual from the exhaust, issues may be present with your catalytic converter or the exhaust itself. 

Posted by Danielle Barge