A Beginner’s Guide to Auto Troubleshooting and Car Repair

A Beginner’s Guide to Auto Troubleshooting and Car Repair

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What would be your first reaction if your vehicle developed a fault at the most inconvenient hour or location if you had no basic idea about auto troubleshooting? Your first thought might be to locate an auto repair or body shop. But what if none is in sight for miles? Technology has also helped since you can just type in “auto repair shops near me” or even “auto repair near me with towing” into your browser and get directions to where you need to go. Get this though: there’s no network on your phone or it’s dead! Imagine how helpless you’d be. This is why every driver needs to learn basic auto problem troubleshooting for quick and easy car repair.

Luckily for you, we have prepared a clear and easy car troubleshooting guide, even if you know next to nothing about cars or car repair.

What is Auto Troubleshooting?

Vehicle troubleshooting involves a two-tiered process of diagnosing or observing symptoms a car is exhibiting to determine the exact issues the car is undergoing and car repair based on an accurate diagnosis. It also involves inspection, testing, and maintenance based on the facts obtained during the diagnosis.

How Do You Diagnose Auto Problems?

You may ask, “How do I know if there is something wrong with my car?” It’s easy. All you need is careful examination. There are three easy ways to check for these faults. They are as f

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1.    Look around the vehicle

For this, you need to rely on your sight for any noticeable issues. Check out the tires. Are there any flat tires? Are there any sharp objects lodged in any of them? Are the lug nuts loose? You should also look to see if there is any warning light on. You can determine what is wrong with that. You may also notice fluid leakage, like oil, brake fluid, or steering fluid. These can give you a great idea of what’s wrong with the vehicle.

2.    Listen for certain sounds

One of the ways your car lets you know something is wrong is usually through the unique sound it makes. If you’re able to determine the sound and where it’s coming from, you can have a good idea of where to examine during your diagnosis. Here are some sounds and what they can mean for your vehicle:

  • Squealing/ squeaking/ grinding

If you hear squealing while driving, that’s a sign that your brake pedals are sitting low. When this happens, you will notice that it feels unusually soft or spongy. The primary cause of this is low brake fluid, which could mean there is a leak in the system. You can prevent brake failure by adding more brake fluid before you get to your technician.

However, if the squealing sound progresses to squeaking or grinding, you need to pay attention because it means your brakes are worn and require immediate change. If the brake motors are fine and the grinding persists, it could be that debris is stuck between the rotor and pad.

Another possible cause of a squeaking or grinding sound is if your gears are worn out. It could also be that there is a synchronization problem or inaccurate meshing of gears, making it a transmission issue.

  • Banging

This distinctive sound is attributable to a car backfire. A car backfire happens when the air-fuel mixture ignites outside the engine’s cylinder, sometimes with a flame. Car backfires are accompanied by a loud bang or popping sound, alerting you to the fact that the engine is not making as much power as required and consuming fuel excessively.

This is most likely caused by an air-to-fuel disparity, worn spark plugs, a slipped timing belt, a dirty/clogged air filter, or out-of-sync ignition timing. This issue requires immediate attention.

  • A buzzing sound from under the car

If you hear a consistent buzzing sound coming from underneath your car, check out your exhaust. It could be cracked.

  • Bubbling

A bubbling or gurgling sound usually indicates a mixture of air and fluid. This could mean that your head gasket is blown, allowing smoke from the exhaust to enter your cooling system. The cooling system may lose coolant, leading to overheating. It could also mean that there is a leak somewhere in your cooling system, which can also cause overheating.

3.    Stay in tune with your vehicle

This aspect of diagnosing your vehicle’s problem will require you to feel. Your vehicle may start shaking, pulling you in the opposite direction of where you’re steering it, or going at a faster speed. Paying attention to these can also assist you in effectively troubleshooting any problem with your vehicle. Here are some common issues you can feel out:

  • The Steering Wheel shaking/ loose or too stiff to turn

You’re driving and you notice your steering wheel is shaking abnormally. That calls for concern. The possible culprit for this would be defective suspension or bad wheel bearings. In a situation where the steering wheel shakes faster the more you progress in your journey, the issue is likely with the tire or wheel balance.

Now, if the steering wheel feels loose while you’re turning it, the tie rods and tie rod ends are likely out of shape, misaligned, or disconnected. If it is too stiff, the power steering system (power steering fluid, belt, and pump) may be at fault.

  • Vehicle pulling or leaning

There are times that the vehicle leans or pulls in a direction other than the one you want it to go in. If this occurs while driving, it is best to park the car and find a solution. Some of the causes of this issue are worn steering linkage, suspension, wheels, tires, or worn-out shocks.

  • Vibrating and shaking vehicle

If your car is shaking or you’re feeling some vibrations, you need to check out a couple of things. It could be that the engine mounts are worn, requiring replacement. Another issue could be that the wheels and tires of the vehicle are misaligned or that a lug nut is loose. These will definitely cause your vehicle to vibrate or shake in a way that makes it difficult to control.

If the vibration is in the steering wheel and is accompanied by your brake pedal pulsing, squealing, or loud bangs when braking, and the vehicle takes a while before it stops, the rotors are most likely the problem. Suspension failure will also lead your car to veer shakily instead of moving in a straight line.


Auto troubleshooting is easy if you know what to do. If you can grasp this simple automotive troubleshooting guide, you’ll find it easy to distinguish between when you have worn spark plugs, when there’s a slipped timing belt, or when you have low tire pressure or a flat tire. You’d also be able to detect the issue through certain sounds, like a scraping or grinding sound while applying the brakes or a rattling sound emanating from under the car.

This knowledge not only assists you in finding a temporary or permanent solution, as the case may be but also assists you in not getting deceived or paying for something you don’t need to when you visit the mechanic. Just remember that for auto troubleshooting, you need to be in tune with your vehicle and make proper observations for accurate diagnoses and car repairs.

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