An auto repair shop service department is shown.

Most Common Car Troubles: What They Are & How to Fix Them

No driver wants to get into their car only to find that it won’t start or notice a puddle of fluid underneath their car after they park. Unfortunately, car troubles can occur, especially as your vehicle’s parts take on the wear and tear of everyday driving. Fortunately, when you keep up with regular maintenance and have an auto repair shop that you can trust, these instances should be few and far between.

Your vehicle is meant to handle a lot, from daily traffic jams to family travels, road trip excursions to work-related tasks, and it’s important to pay attention to it if it’s trying to alert you that something is wrong. There are some issues that tend to arise more often than others. So, what are the most common automobile problems? Let’s dive into some of the most frequent issues that occur with today’s modern travelers.

A woman is shown checking an overheated engine.

What Are the Most Common Problems?

Before we get started, it’s important to note that your experience with vehicle repairs will depend on your driving habits. For instance, if you frequently use your pickup truck to haul heavy loads for work, its parts may wear more quickly than if you just used it for your commute. If you’re a regular commuter, you may need more frequent service to ensure that your vehicle is operating at its best. Here are some of the common issues that can plague drivers and what to do about them.

Car Not Starting

Sometimes, it comes out of nowhere. You get in your car on the way to work, turn the key, and…nothing happens. We’ve probably all been there before, and in most cases, your battery is at fault, but not always. The lifespan of your vehicle’s battery depends on a few things, including where you live and also how much you drive your vehicle. A typical battery needs to be changed out about every three to five years; however, if you live in a warm climate, you may need to switch it out sooner.

You’ll be able to tell that something is amiss with your battery when your car sputters when it starts or if it takes a few cranks of the key to get the engine to engage. If you keep up with regular service, your service tech will check the battery and alert you when its performance is getting low so that you can avoid this situation entirely.

In more serious cases, the alternator is at fault and will need to be replaced. Signs of alternator failure include:

  • Dim or very bright lights.
  • Issues with starting your vehicle.
  • Burning rubber smell.
  • Battery light illuminated on dash.

Whether it’s the battery or the alternator, you’ll want a professional to diagnose the problem. That’s why it’s recommended to bring your car into a respected auto repair shop so that the right part can be installed correctly.

Tire Troubles

Another scenario that many drivers don’t plan for is an unexpected flat or tire wear. Flats typically occur after coming in contact with a sharp object, like a nail or a shard of glass, on the roadway; however, this isn’t always the case. Sometimes, everyday use can cause the tire to wear unevenly, resulting in a flat. To prevent tire wear and reduce your risk of a flat, it’s essential to have your tires checked routinely.

You can check them yourself or bring the car to your mechanic. They will check tread depth and alert you to any issues that may be arising; then, they will rotate them so that all of your tires wear at an even rate to extend their lifespan.

A blue vehicle is shown with a flat tire.

Squeaky Brakes

Turning up the radio may drown out the squeaking of your brakes, but it doesn’t fix the problem. There are many causes for loud brakes, and not all of them are serious. Sometimes, your brakes will squeak if they need a moment to get warmed up for the drive. This occurs when moisture from the air gets on your brakes or the weather is cold, making your brakes a little louder than usual.

On the other hand, it could mean that your brake pads are in need of replacement. This warrants a trip to your local mechanic. Your brakes have an enormous responsibility, so ignoring any noises they make, especially frequent squeaking, is not advised.

Shaky Steering Wheel

Have you started to notice a slight tremor in your steering wheel, or maybe your car pulling to the right or left? Most likely, this is due to improper wheel alignment, which can be fixed easily at your local auto repair shop. Over time, your tires may fall out of alignment, and this is especially common if you’re regularly traveling over uneven terrain or if you’ve recently modified your vehicle, like adding a lift kit to it. It may also be a tire balancing problem due to poor road conditions, changes in weather, and so forth causing your tires to rotate unevenly. This, again, can be fixed easily by the pros.


If you notice that your car is frequently overheating, this could be due to a number of things. First of all, you could just be low on coolant, which is a quick fix; however, bear in mind that this low coolant level could be caused by a leak, so it’s important to get this checked out just to be sure. Another culprit of overheating is low engine oil or old engine oil. Your engine oil has a major job to do, lubricating the various components of your engine so that your vehicle operates efficiently. If it’s low or in dire need of replacing, it can’t do its job properly and can lead to overheating, which can do irreparable damage to your engine. Do yourself a favor and avoid all of this by staying on top of routine oil changes.

Fluid Leaks

A lot of the time, the fluid that you see beneath your car on a hot summer day is just condensation from your vehicle’s air conditioning, but other times, it’s something else. There’s a lot of fluid that sits beneath your hood, so figuring out where a leak is coming from can be a challenge. The most common type of fluid leak is engine oil, and this puddle will typically sit toward the front of your vehicle. If this is the case, the fluid will be brownish in color, and you’ll want to ensure that the oil pan and filter are in the correct positions. Sometimes, the culprit is the oil pan plug, and it just needs to be put back in place, and the lost oil will need to be replenished.

If you find a puddle more toward the vehicle’s center, this may be transmission fluid, which is more red in color. This warrants an immediate trip to your auto repair shop to diagnose the problem and fix the issue before it gets too serious. Sometimes, a fluid leak doesn’t affect the performance of your vehicle, and instead, it’s just a nuisance. A perfect example of this would be windshield wiper fluid, and the common culprit of this leak, in most instances, is the cap not being screwed on the entire way under the hood. Talk about an easy fix!

A vehicle is shown leaking fluid.

Addressing Common Automobile Problems

Chances are, issues with your vehicle won’t just come out of the blue. Your vehicle will begin alerting you that something is amiss slowly until you can’t ignore it anymore, and when this happens, taking it in to get checked out by a professional is crucial. Remember, little problems have the potential to become big problems, and so many of these issues can be handled easily and quickly. The biggest thing to remember is to trust in the professionals to handle your vehicle’s needs because they’re well-versed in vehicle maintenance and experienced in diagnosing problems. When you take care of your car, it will take care of you, so don’t ignore common car troubles, no matter how minuscule they may seem.