If you have been reading my columns for any length of time you know that my favorite analogies are between your vehicle and your body. The fact of the matter is that there are so many symptoms and repairs that are so alike, that it is almost impossible to deny the similarities. Every morning when you first start up your vehicle it talks to you, very clearly and definitely. The problem is that very few people take the time to actually listen.
The second problem is that very few people shut off their air conditioning or their radios or whatever other entertainment apps are available for their car. This practice of turning things off is not only a good practice but healthy for your car. When you get home from work do you immediately just dive into your next task or do you take a moment or two to decompress, maybe have a drink or a cup of coffee? Well, your car needs that same decompression time too.
Turn off all the accessories like the air conditioner, radio, etc., and let that alternator spin down (if you have a turbo that needs to spin down also). The next morning when you wake up do you jump right out of bed right into your jogging shoes and do a quick 5k, or do you stretch, maybe take a quick shower and then have that first cup of coffee, listen to the news and then get ready for work. Your car needs that same type of gradual start-up. To jump in the vehicle and start it up with the A/C going at full blast, the radio at its highest volume, the rear defogger or wipers going at full speed is the worst possible thing to do for a vehicle, especially when this is the best time to listen to her talking to you.
Tomorrow morning when you start your vehicle without any accessories or radio going just roll down the window and listen. Do you hear a faint squeal on startup? Is there a tapping sound under the hood for the first few seconds, or maybe a deeper-sounding thump? As you roll the first few feet down the driveway is a really high-pitched squeak akin to running your fingernails across a blackboard? That is your car talking to you.
In order of appearance we are talking about worn or dry drive belts or tensioner pulley bearing starting to fail. Tapping sounds can be low oil pressure or low oil level, the deeper thump may be engine bearing failure. The high-pitched squeak is the brake warning indicator letting you know that the brakes need to be inspected. You would be shocked at how many people come in with destroyed pads and rotors and never heard any noise. This took all of 45 seconds and gave you a clear look at the health of your vehicle.
Now turn on the radio and your climate control, the engine has already reached almost operating temperature and the O2 sensors have been preheated and your fuel management system is ready to take control of your drive ability strategies. Go a step farther and listen to the wheels on the pavement, do they thump or run rough until the tires get warm? Is there a growl from one side of the vehicle that goes away when you switch lanes? Maybe the exhaust sounds louder when the vehicle is cold and quiets down as the car warms up.
These are all signs of imminent failure of tires, suspension and exhaust systems.
If you hear none of these things, smile and know that everything is probably in good shape.
REMEMBER LACK OF COMMON SENSE WILL COST YOU DOLLARS AND CENTS AND MAINTENANCE STARTS AT MILE 00001.