How Our Vehicles Help Make It Easy to Diagnose Car Troubles

Vehicles are designed to provide us with early warning signs when they are in need of some TLC. When you ignore these, it can lead to more costly repairs since the problems tend to only get worse. Your vehicle provides a host of things to watch, look, and listen for to determine and diagnose car troubles. Once you know what is wrong, then you can order the right recycled auto parts to fix your vehicle.

Woman buckling her seat belt


Vehicles have various sensors used in the engine, exhaust system, braking system, and so on. These sensors monitor the system to ensure it is operating within normal parameters. Should something go wrong or not be working correctly, they let us know by illuminating various lights on the dashboard, such as:

  • Check Engine Light
  • Oil Pressure Light
  • ABS Warning Light
  • Temperature Warning Light
  • Battery Warning Light
  • Transmission Warning Light
  • Oil Change Reminder Light
  • Service Vehicle Soon Light
  • Tire Pressure Monitoring System Light
  • Brake System Warning Light
  • Airbag Warning Light
  • EPS Fault Warning Light
  • Security System Warning Light
  • Lamp Out Warning Light

Gas meter

Keep in mind, your vehicle may not have all of these warning lights, depending on the year, make, and model. In addition, your vehicle could have other warning and reminder lights based on what features and options are included in your vehicle.

If any light comes on and stays on after starting the vehicle or while you are driving, it means there is a problem that requires your attention. Most of the warning lights are fairly straight-forward and mean something is wrong with that particular system. A few of the lights can be little vague, like the check engine light or service vehicle soon light.

These two warning lights are basically a “catch-all” for any problem or service reminder that does not have its own warning or reminder light. However, you can pull diagnostic codes from the vehicle’s computer that will let you know what the problem is and why the light came on.

  • DIY Repair Tip: You can find videos online for your make, model, and year that show how to obtain codes. You can also search online for code definitions once you have the code so you know which used auto parts you will need to order to fix your car.


Some vehicles have specific gauges in place of warning lights, like for oil pressure, battery charging, and coolant temperature. If the gauge moves into a “red zone,” then the check engine light will come on and the vehicle may also make an audio sound to get your attention that something is wrong.

Car rate meter


Vehicles will make all sorts of sounds to alert us something is wrong and needs our attention. One of the more common sounds is when one of the sensors reports a problem through the vehicle’s computer. In addition to the light illuminating on the dashboard, you may hear a dinging, chiming, or beeping sound to get your attention.

Aside from the vehicle’s warning systems, there are a host of other sounds your vehicle can make when there is something wrong. Understanding what these sounds means can help you diagnose the problem so it can be fixed.

  • Chirping sound when driving: This sound is the wear sensor on the brake pads. It indicates there is not much pad left and the brake pads need to be replaced.
  • Grinding sound when braking: This sound means the brake pads have worn off and all that is left is the metal part of the pad. Essentially, you are pressing metal against the metal rotor to stop, which is a safety hazard. Not only do the brake pads need to be replaced, but the rotors will also need to be turned and/or replaced.
  • Clicking sound when trying to start the car: Clicking means there is not sufficient power to start the vehicle. The battery could need to be replaced or there could be other electrical system problems with the starter or alternator.
  • Squealing sound when the engine is running: If you hear an occasion or constant squealing sound from under the hood, it often indicates the drive belt needs to be replaced and is getting ready to break.

Woman looking at car hood

  • Banging, popping, or sputtering noises when the engine is running: These sounds can indicate something is wrong with the exhaust system. The spark plugs could also need to be replaced.
  • Knocking sound when accelerating: This sound is the result of deposits forming on the ends of spark plugs. Replacing the spark plugs can resolve this problem.
  • Increase in engine noise: When there is a hole in the exhaust pipe or muffler, it will make the engine sound much louder.
  • Clicking sound when turning: If you hear this sound, it means the wheel bearings need to be replaced.
  • Clunking sound when shifting gears: If you hear a clunking sound from under the car as the transmission is shifting gears, it means the transmission needs to be serviced.

Man looking at car engine


Your vehicle can give off different smells, many of which are unpleasant. These are typically caused by fluids leaking and should be fixed as soon as possible.

  • Pancake Syrup: Engine coolant will give off this smell when it is leaking and coming into contact with the hot parts and components under the hood.
  • Rotting Eggs: If you can smell rotting eggs, there is something wrong with the exhaust system, typically the catalytic converter.
  • Gasoline: If you can smell gasoline on a regular basis while driving, you could have a bad fuel injector or gas leak.
  • Burning Rubber: This offensive smell is never a good sign. It could indicate the drive belt is stuck or the rubber hoses are coming into contact with moving parts and components under the hood.
  • Musty/Sweaty Gym Clothes: This smell indicates there is mold or mildew growing somewhere in the vehicle. If you have water leaks around windows, it could be in the carpeting. If you only smell it while running the AC or heat, it could be in the evaporator unit.
  • Burning Oil: If oil is leaking out of different areas of the engine, it burns off as the engine heats up. This smell can occur if oil is accidentally spilled when it is changed and it dissipates in a short period of time. However, if you smell it all the time, there is something wrong.
  • Burning Carpet: Brake fluid will smell similar to burning carpet when it leaks out and comes into contact with rotors and brake pads.

Operational Symptoms

Besides lights, gauges, sounds, and smells, how your vehicle drives and performs can indicate there are problems.

  • The car pulls to the left or right when braking: This means the vehicle needs a front end alignment.
  • The car shakes and rattles when driving: The tires could need to be rotated and balanced or even replaced.
  • The lights dim and other electronic accessories stop working: This can indicate the battery is not being charged by the alternator because it needs to be replaced.
  • The brake pedal vibrates when pressed on: A vibrating brake pedal could indicate the rotors or brake pads have warped. This can occur if the rotors got too hot. Warping causes the pads and rotors to not touch evenly and smoothly so it will send vibrations through the brake pedal.
  • The car stalls when the engine is idling: This problem means the car needs a tune-up. The engine is not getting the right mixture of fuel and air.

As you can see, there are many different ways your vehicle lets you know something is wrong. It is important to address problems sooner rather than later as they could affect other systems and cause additional damages.

Car parts

You can find original equipment manufacturer recycled auto parts for your vehicle online by shopping at Bessler Auto Parts today! We also invite you to contact us directly by calling 614-779-0003 if you need assistance finding specific used auto parts.