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Car problems


Steering and driving safety

Problems with the steering occur gradually so pay attention to small changes in the way a car handles, especially when you turn the wheel.

If your steering is pulling to the left or right, it means that the suspension is out of alignment or unequal tire pressure may also be the cause. Besides, tires could be a reason of the steering wobbling. If you feel vibrations through the steering wheel, a tire may be out of balance. If it takes more effort to turn the wheel, you may have lost your power steering belt or run out of power steering fluid. When you turn the wheel and the steering growls or buzzes in turning at slow speed, it means low level of power steering fluid or a leak in the power steering system. If you hear a high-pitched squeal, the car’s drive belt is probably slipping on the power steering unit. A moaning noise while turning the wheel means that the power steering pump may be about to fail. If you have too much play or looseness in the steering, it may indicate worn parts.

Check power steering fluid once a month by means of a dipstick making sure that the fluid is within the correct range. If you have to add fluid more than once a year, you may have a leak.

Brakes trouble ahead?

We rely on our brakes to keep us out of trouble. Most of motorists know little about how to look after them and how to recognize that they need attention.

If a high-pitched noise or squeal is heard while driving and without applying brakes, it is a sign that the brake pads are worn down and need replacing. Especially if you hear a metal-on-metal grinding sound while applying brakes it means the brake pads are completely worn. This will damage the drums or rotors and considerably reduce braking effectiveness.

If the calipers are sticking or worn, it can cause the car to pull to either the right or the left when you brake. If you have to pump the brakes to stop a car, there could be a number of reasons. There may be a leak in the brake system, air in the brake lines or you may need a brake adjustment.

Check brake fluid once every month looking for the brake master cylinder on the upper right side of the engine compartment. Brake fluid depletes very gradually, so if a sharp drop is noticed, get your brake system checked.

What’s that leak?

Most leaks can be identified by color, smell, thickness and their position under the vehicle. Some leaks will require immediate attention from a service specialist, while others can wait for a regular scheduled maintenance.

The black and dark-brown spots are either engine oil or gear oil. Generally leaks from engine oil are serious of black spots. The locations should respond with the front and back of the engine. The engine could suffer major damage if this is left unchecked. Leaks from gear oil are thicker and have a slightly foul and sulfuric smell. Gear oil leaks generally come from the front and rear axle or manual transmission. If you find green spots on the garage floor it is probably engine coolant. Coolant can be also blue, orange and pinkish-red. Look under the hood at the transparent coolant reservoir to see which color is on the car.

If your engine overheats…

Summer temperatures mean that the cooling system has to work much harder to keep the engine from overheating. There are four main features to recognize if the engine overheats:1) temperature gauge is high; 2) temperature light is on; 3) steam is coming from under the hood; 4) unusual noise and a sudden loss of power.

If there is no outpouring of steam, but there is still power, the engine needs some fast heat relief. By switching the AC off and the heater on to its highest setting the heat will be diverted away from the engine. Try to increase the distance between your car and another one ahead. By blocking the flow of air, the exhaust from the vehicle in front will reduce the ability of your car to dissipate heat. If the temperature gauges have not respond, find a safe spot to pull off the road turning off the engine and lifting the hood. It will allow the engine to cool fast and also provide a warning for oncoming drivers. It may take a considerable amount of time the engine to cool. After it has cooled check the coolant. The level can be seen through the transparent reservoir near the radiator. If the level is below ADD or MIN level, top off with coolant, distilled water or a mixture of both. If the coolant level is within the correct range, you may have another problem such as a broken thermostat or temperature gauge, a leak hose, a radiator leak or slipping water pump drive belts. But never attempt to open the radiator cap on a hot engine to avoid the possibility of severe burning. If there is steam coming from the engine or you are losing power, this overheating situation is much more critical. Pull off the road and call roadside assistance or a repair shop.




Despite being the number-one cause of breakdowns, overheating is easily avoidable. Here is how to avoid getting stuck. Check the coolant every month and more often if you are on a road trip. Keep to your maintenance schedule as it includes regular belt and hose inspections, cooling system flushes and etc.

ANSWER THE QUESTIONS: 1. What are the main problems with a car? 2. Which one is the most important from your point of view? 3. Choose one of the described problems and retell it by your own words? 4. How can the car owner prevent the failure?

Exercise 1.Read the following statements and decide whether they are ‘true’ and ‘false’. Give your opinion.

1. If you ever find puddles of engine oil under the vehicles you should contact a service specialist.

2. Brakes are a normal wear item for any car, so sooner or later they are going to need replacement.

3. The greatest cause of summer breakdowns is overheating.

4. Leaks never fix themselves, they only get worse.

5. Low brake fluid can cause you lose braking altogether.

Exercise 2.Read the text once more and make the plan of it in order to retell it.

For example, look through the abstract about the overheated engine and here is an example of a plan for retelling.

1. Four features of overheating

2. Some fast heat relief

3. Some measures for preventing overheating

Exercise 3.Make a summary for the text of this lesson.

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