Report Problems to Your Mechanic
In the same way, take careful note of the behavior of your car. Remember both the changes in the car’s behavior, as well as any associated noise that happens at the same time. For example, the simple problem of a flat tire has a distinct flapping noise, and is also accompanied by a very definite steering problem. Not all problems have both components. One of the first signs of a CV joint problem is a simple clicking noise as the car makes a sharp right hand or left-hand turn. However, many car problems have both a behavioral and sound component to them, so listen carefully and feel for any differences in the running of the car. (If a CV joint problem is left unattended, there can be a significant performance difference when one wheel seizes up and no longer turns, but we hope that the car is not left to get into that condition!)
In addition to this, try to describe precisely when and where the changes to your car happen. For example, the CV joint problem above only happens when the car is taking a turn. Furthermore, pinning down the location of the clicking noise will indicate which CV joint is having a problem, whether it’s on the right hand side or the left-hand side. It is important for the mechanic to know that some problems only occur after the car has been driving for 10 minutes, or occur just as the car starts and then goes away, or other time dependent behavior.
Try to be as descriptive as possible when talking about the problem, even if it seems a little foolish. The old joke about a lady talking to her mechanic, and describing a sound like a bowling ball rolling around in the trunk, only to find that it was actually a bowling ball rolling around the trunk. However precise description is of great benefit. If the noise sounds like marbles in a cardboard box, or a bunch of safety pins dropping on the floor, say so. One of these phrases may cause an “aha” moment for the mechanic and make the diagnosis problem really easy.
A list of common descriptive sounds that might be applied to a car are: clicking, squealing, growling, whistling, thumping, humming, chirping, rattling, or knocking. Smells that might be reported to your mechanic are: burning oil, burning plastic, a putrid smell, or other strong or slight smell. Finally, if anything seems unusually hot to the touch that should also be reported to the mechanic. (Do NOT touch metal components on a running or just turned off car with your hand! They can easily be hot enough to burn you.)