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Basic auto repair information you should remember.

Auto repair requires information. When you bring your vehicle to a mechanic in need of auto repair, he’ll want to know if you’ve noticed any strange fluids, smells, noises, or driving problems. The more information you can provide, the easier it will be for him to locate the source of the problem.

There’s probably no need to worry about the occasional drop of fluid under your vehicle. However, puddles require your immediate attention. The color and consistency of the leaking fluid can give you clues on what auto repairs might be necessary. Clear water may be just normal condensation from your air conditioner, but a red oil spot normally indicates a transmission or power-steering fluid leak.

If you notice a strange smell coming from your vehicle, you may need some type of auto repair. The smell of burnt toast may indicate an electrical short or burning insulation, while the smell of rotten eggs is often related to a problem with the catalytic converter. Different types of odors indicate different problems, so be as specific as possible when describing the offending smell to your mechanic.

Unusual sounds can also provide clues regarding auto repair needs. Tell your mechanic about any clicking, rumbling, clunking, or knocking sounds that seem out of the ordinary. Some of these noises are nothing to be concerned about, but others can indicate a serious problem. A squealing noise may indicate a loose or worn fan or air conditioning belt. A high pitched, piercing metallic screech that occurs when you’re driving means your brakes need immediate maintenance.

Excessive vibrations, a rough ride, or handing problems almost always require professional attention. Abrupt or hard shifts between gears may indicate a transmission problem, while poor acceleration is more likely to be an engine problem.

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