Your car has thousands of parts and if any go wrong or fail then this has a knock-on effect on the rest of the car and its engine. A minor problem becomes a medium-sized problem which becomes a costly repair. You can often detect problems at the small-to-medium stage so if you act on these cardinal symptoms you could save yourself a lot of money and hassle.

A bulge in the tyre

This can be caused by hitting debris or a kerb or by over-inflation. These bulges are air pockets in the sidewall caused by air forcing itself into the inner lining. They’re serious weak spots that can lead to blow-outs so the tyre needs to be replaced immediately.

A squeaky belt

If your belt starts making squeaking noises, it’s either worn down or it needs to be adjusted. This needs to be seen to because if it snaps it could cause your engine to overheat and possibly destroy the engine.

Smelly exhaust

All exhausts smell a bit, but if yours suddenly becomes stronger or unusual, there could be something up. If there’s a oil leak somewhere, the fluid could be sizzling on a hot surface and producing the odour, or your catalytic converter could be failing.

A wobbling steering-wheel

There’s a few things that can cause this – old or unaligned suspension, an unbalanced wheel or a worn wheel bearing. Worn wheel bearings are very dangerous because they can fail and the wheel can actually detach from the car, so don’t delay here, get your car to the garage.

Noisy brakes

A grinding noise when you apply the brakes usually means that they’re worn. Your brake pads have metal fixings under the pads and when the pads wear thin, this metal is exposed and makes a noise when it comes into contact with the brake rotor. It’s not just annoying, it means you can’t brake as efficiently as you should, so drive (carefully) to the garage.

There’s smoke

If you see or smell smoke, pull over immediately because you could be in imminent danger. Usually smoke is caused by leaking fluid hitting hot surfaces, electrical problems or a seized brake. Don’t start driving again until you’ve located the problem and fixed it. If you can’t fix it, call out a recovery service.

The engine light

The often-inscrutable engine light comes on for a reason – to tell you something’s amiss. Find out what it is as soon as you can by looking at the error codes and if necessary, see your mechanic.