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July 06, 2009

What's Wrong With My Car? Warnings to Stop Driving

82556406 Imagine yourself in this situation: you're by yourself, driving down the highway at night, far away from home, and you smell, hear or feel something weird. Your suspicion is that something's wrong with your car, but you wouldn't even begin to know what to look for if you stopped. Plus, it could just be paranoia - it'll probably just go away after a while.

So, what should be a concern, and is worth the risk of pulling over?

Pungent smell of burning plastic: Could be an electrical fire.

Steam coming from under hood/temperature gauges increasing: If you keep driving your engine could overheat and die, but it probably just needs coolant.

Can’t see: If the weather is preventing you from seeing clearly, or if your vision is getting blurry, pull over and do whatever you can to feel more comfortable, or wait it out, before getting back on the road.

Clunking of a flat tire: If you keep driving your tire will only get worse, and it may lead to wheel damage. But if it means getting to a safe place, a little extra driving may be worth the damage. Like Dad says, “It’s easier to replace a wheel than it is to replace your life!”

Can’t steer: Depending on how much trouble you’re having, you may need to pull over the first chance you get.

Can’t brake: Put on your flashers, and decelerate until you’re stopped. Call for help.

Notice puddle of oil or coolant after you've been parked: Drive as little as possible until you can get the leak fixed.

Hear a loud "pop": Your oil filter could’ve fallen off if it wasn’t screwed on tightly enough, and this could wreck your engine.

Read about precautions for safe highway driving alone next Monday.

For more Auto Safety and Security Tips from RTM, click here.


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