If you’re experiencing car trouble, you should get it checked by a professional as soon as possible—but how do you know whether your car is safe to drive? While there are some situations where you can drive your vehicle to the shop, there are a few cases where this might cause greater damage. Here’s how to know when you need to call a tow truck.
Is It Safe?
First of all, how do you decide when it’s safe to drive? If the problem is mainly with a nonessential component of the vehicle—such as the air conditioning or windows—then your vehicle can most likely be driven to the shop. The same is true if all you need is regular maintenance or a checkup. You can also generally drive your car to the shop if you do not notice any strange smells, sounds, or sights, and if it handles well enough that you feel safe driving it.
However, there are some warning signs that mean you should avoid driving your car—doing so may be unsafe and could end up causing greater damage to the vehicle. One of the biggest indications you need to call a tow truck is if there is smoke coming from the tailpipe or under the hood. You should especially pay attention to this if it is accompanied by a burning smell.
Another smell you should pay attention to is the smell of fuel, which is a cause for concern whether your vehicle is running or not. You should also pay attention to the sudden loss of any fluid, such as oil, coolant, or brake fluid, which can indicate a serious leak.
Be on the lookout for unusual sounds. If your brakes make a loud grinding noise, stop driving your vehicle and call a tow truck. You should also call a tow company if your engine begins to make a knocking, whirring, or screeching noise, which can be an indicator of serious problems.
Pay attention to what your vehicle’s instruments are telling you. If your car’s temperature gauge is too high, it’s a sign that you might be overheating. You should also call a tow company if your oil level light is illuminated or if your check engine light is flashing.
Finally, if you don’t feel safe while driving, don’t. If your vehicle is not handling correctly, stalls at stops, and doesn’t accelerate or brake properly, you should consider calling a tow truck rather than driving to the shop yourself.