When your car is giving you trouble, you don't want to overlook this and assume that the problem will simply go away, as rarely do mechanical problems with a car fix themselves. Many car owners hesitate to visit a repair shop simply because they're afraid of the cost or assume a mechanic will try to cheat them in some way; knowing a few things to look for when your car is giving you problems can mean knowing what to expect when you do take your car in for service. Note a few warning signs it's time to take your car to a mechanic and what those signs might mean by way of repairs.
1. Hesitating and stalling
If your car hesitates after starting and often sputters and then even stalls when on the road, this can be due to very low-quality gasoline. The gas may have sediment or alcohol that burns off quickly without actually fueling your car. The sediment can get in the way of the gas lines so that not enough gas is delivered to the engine properly. However, more likely it's a sensor that is going bad. Sensors tell the car how much oxygen it needs to mix with fuel to create combustion. When the sensors go bad, the car's engine might be getting too much oxygen or not enough, and it cannot maintain combustion. In turn, the engine sputters and even stalls. If a dashboard warning light goes on at the same time, this usually indicates a failing sensor.
Depending on where the smoke is coming from, this could be a very serious problem for your car. When there is a radiator leak, you may actually be seeing steam that you think is smoke; continuing to drive can mean the leak can become a large hole and the radiator fails altogether.
Smoke can also be caused by an oil leak; the oil drips onto other parts of the car and causes smoke. You shouldn't drive with an oil leak, as your car's engine needs oil in order to avoid seizing up. When an engine overheats, this too can mean smoke coming from under the hood. This might be caused by a broken fan so that the engine isn't getting cooled, or it can mean a problem with the hoses that deliver coolant to the engine. Note if the dashboard light for your engine's temperature goes on, as this usually means an overheating engine.
You should take your car to the mechanic as soon as you notice any of these signs because letting more time pass can often allow the problem to get worse, which would result in even costlier repairs.