If you’re like most drivers, the thought of your car breaking down and potentially stranded probably makes you feel anxious. But how do you know if there’s actually something wrong with your car? To avoid the hassle of calling a tow truck, here are five tell-tale signs that indicate something’s wrong with your vehicle.

1. Your car smells like gas

Typically, a gas smell isn’t a cause for concern. If the odor isn’t the result of your last trip to the gas station, you might be dealing with a loose or broken gas cap. And that’s great news since caps are cheap to replace.

But if the odor persists for several days, it could be a more serious issue, a potentially dangerous problem with your fuel system, like:

  • A leaking fuel tank often accompanied by a rainbow puddle under your car
  • Fuel injector, line, or filter leak
  • A defective component of your car’s evaporative emissions (EVAP) system. Usually accompanied by a check engine light.

2. Your car shakes, pulsates, or vibrates

Driving the same car for years? After your car gets some miles on it, you may find a slight difference in how it drives compared to when you first drove it off the lot. A little shake. Maybe a rough idle here and there. Some possible explanations include:

  • Worn spark plugs and wires, possibly with check engine light
  • Loose hoses surrounding the engine
  • Loose battery terminal connections
  • Loose timing belt
  • Wheels out of rotation
  • Worn or damaged brake rotors
  • Worn shocks or struts

3. Your car makes noise when you turn

Traditional wear and tear will affect your car’s steering and suspension systems. Typically, your car will complain loudly when this happens. Make sure to pay attention to the following warning signs:

  • Hear a squealing noise while turning, potentially caused by worn or damaged parts, joints in need of greasing, or low power-steering fluid
  • Clicking while turning, meaning there could be a problem with the constant-velocity (CV) joint or boot
  • A clunking noise that’s present while driving, even when not turning
  • Difficulty turning the steering wheel – a sign to check your power steering fluid.

4. Your car won’t start

You’re heading out to work, put the key into the ignition, turn it, and nothing. If your car won’t start, likely means one of two things: The engine cranks when you turn the key, or it’s silent or makes a quiet clicking noise. Here are some options to help you narrow down the problem by its sound.

The engine cranks but won’t start.

  • Empty gas tank
  • Failing fuel pump
  • Worn-out or damaged spark plugs
  • Malfunctioning security system
  • Frozen fuel line (less common)

Hear silence or your car quietly clicks and doesn’t start.

  • Dead battery
  • Bad alternator
  • Worn or damaged starter
  • Locked steering wheel. If the key doesn’t turn at all, try slowly moving the steering wheel.

5. Your car smells like sulfur or rotten eggs

Either you left last week’s leftovers in your car, or the putrid smell likely indicates that your catalytic converter needs replacing. This is a common and expensive repair with a quick turnaround time. Although the labor is pretty cheap, the part comes with a hefty price tag— costing anywhere from $900 to $2,500.

Alternative reasons your car smells like rotten eggs include:

  • Faulty fuel pressure regulator. To fix, replace your fuel filter.
  • Filling up with low-grade fuel. Eliminate the smell by upgrading to Top-Tier gas. Ensure you’re selecting the appropriate octane level that your owner’s manual suggests.


Contact a class-A autobody shop for quick, affordable autobody repairs.

Whether it’s a strange noise or damage to your car’s exterior body, it’s essential to make sure your vehicle is taken care of properly. If it’s body or frame damage that seems to be the problem, we highly recommend taking your car to a Class-A autobody shop as Class-A shops are required to meet strict standards of quality and technical training. Reliable Collision Repair is one of the leading Class-A Certified autobody shops in Rhode Island, widely recognized as a trusted expert in diagnosing and repairing various car issues. With over two decades in business, we understand that your vehicle needs a knowledgeable and experienced professional to repair your vehicle to look and operate optimally.

You can rely on our experienced team to do a thorough inspection and provide you with the appropriate solution you need.
Call us at (401) 823-4770 or schedule an appointment with us through Carwise.

For situations where you cannot drive your vehicle because of damage, we offer towing and accident recovery services and car rental services when needed.