• Red Flags to Watch for in Older Vehicles

  • Wouldn’t it be great if you could get 200,000 miles or more out of your vehicle? Believe it or not, reaching those numbers is attainable. The older your car gets, it’s imperative that you pay attention to specific red flags.

    It’s inevitable that some components will begin to wear out. The good news is if you know what to watch out for you can avoid unexpected and usually expensive repairs. Here’s an overview of the signs to watch out for, and what you can do about them.

    Body Rust

    One of the first signs of rust will be bubbles forming in the paint, especially around the vehicle’s wheel wells and on the hood, trunk, or roof. Those bubbles could be red flags that a more serious problem is occurring under the surface of the paint.

    The best course of action, in this case, is to have your repair shop evaluate the damage. You can patch your surface rust, but at some point, there may be a structural weakness that could jeopardize the safety of the vehicle.

    Spark Plugs

    If you are having trouble starting your car, or you are noticing that your vehicle’s engine is running rough or is misfiring, there’s a good chance your spark plugs need an immediate change.

    You can replace the plugs yourself, but a special tool is required to make sure they’re gapped correctly. For newer cars, it might be better to have a certified mechanic handle it, but if your cart dates before 1990, you should be able to take care of it yourself.

    Oil Leaks and Increased Oil Consumption

    It is pretty standard for older cars to consume more oil, so it’s not a major red flag. However, if your car seems to be going through a lot of oil, there may be an oil leak.

    If you suspect your vehicle is leaking oil, you should consider taking it to your mechanic right away. Since oil helps your engine dissipate heat, low oil levels can lead to other problems in your engine.

    Overheating Issues

    Failing radiators and thermostats are a ommon cause of overheating in older cars. If you notice that your car’s coolant level is low, it could be a signal of a leak in one of the hoses, the engine, or possibly even the radiator itself.

    When the engine runs too hot, it can lead to damaged parts or complete engine failure. Keeping an eye on your older vehicle’s fluid levels is crucial for preventing severe issues that could be expensive to fix or leave you stranded on the side of the road.

    Worn Out Struts and Shocks

    If your car bounces up and down as you go down the street, it’s possible your struts and shocks are worn out. It could also be a sign that your tires are worn unevenly.

    These issues should be addressed right away because they could lead to problems with handling, not to mention putting unnecessary wear on your tires. Changing struts and shocks is best handled by a certified mechanic.

    Fogging Windshield

    If you start to notice that your windshield is always foggy, and you seem to be losing coolant, it could be a sign that your heater core is failing.

    The heater core is located right under the dashboard, and even a tiny hole can cause interior fogging. If this problem goes unaddressed, it could result in an overheating engine, which could lead to engine damage.

    You’ll want to have the heater core replaced as soon as possible to minimize future damage.

    When you notice a red flag in your older vehicle, don’t ignore it. Have a professional mechanic check it out right away to avoid more expensive repairs in the future. And of course, nobody wants to end up stranded on the side of the road either!