Warning Signs / Check Engine Light

How often do you have to stop in the middle of a road because of a breakdown? What is its cause and what can you do at the moment?

Before you know it the check engine light comes on. And right after that, your engine simply dies. Now you’re in trouble. What should you do if your truck dies on the road, and what can you do to prevent it from happening in the first place?

There are hundreds of things that can go wrong with your truck. Some of them are only minor annoyances, but others can leave you stranded. Here are some of the most common problems that Kansas drivers face. Keep in mind that anything listed as a “quick fix” is exactly that. It’s designed to help you get to a truck repair shop or a safe place to stop, not to make your vehicle roadworthy.

Have you ever seen that temperature needle climb the gauge overheating? When it gets into the red zone, you’re in danger of a breakdown. If you see this, get off the road immediately. You’re much safer on the shoulder than you would be if you just died in traffic with motorists barreling down on you.

Causes: Your truck might start to overheat because of loose or broken radiator connections. There could also be a leak in the coolant tank. The heating element might be out.

Quick Fixes: Before you try anything, make sure that your engine is completely cool. Opening up your radiator cap while it’s hot leads to nasty burns. If you have spare radiator hose you can replace any worn pieces. Keep pre-mixed coolant in the trunk so you can refill it if necessary.

Warning Signs: If you see steam coming out from under the hood, you can release the hood from inside the truck, but don’t touch the hood. If you see smoke, pull over, leave the hood closed, get your family out of the vehicle, and call for a tow truck. If the truck catches fire, call 911 first.

If the oil sensor is suddenly ignited, there is a suspicion that you have leak. This is a problem because motor oil lubricates the machinery. It prevents your engine from overheating, and the pistons from expanding and possibly breaking.

Causes: If you didn’t have a leak when you left, and it started on the road, then it’s probably a crack in the oil pan or some other physical damage. This can happen if your truck sits too low and your bottom out on a speed bump or something left in the road.

Quick Fixes: There’s not much that you can do to fix an oil leak when you’re on the road. The best solution is prevention: regular changes, inspections, and tune-ups.

Warning Signs: The low oil light is the warning sign. If you don’t notice that, you might hear the knocks from your pistons. You should definitely feel how rough your truck runs when it’s low on oil.

Causes: Fluid leaks can cause poor performance. When the belts become too tight that might make the alternator wear out faster.

Quick Fixes: The alternator isn’t hard to replace. You simply need to take off the belt, unbolt it from the truck and pull it out. Then you put on the new one. That said, if you don’t have a spare alternator in your trunk, you’re not going to be able to replace it on the road.

Warning Signs: There’s a warning light on your dash that usually says either “GEN” or “ALT”. If your truck clicks several times before starting, that’s the sound of a worn alternator. Bad alternators also cause irregular sparking, which leads to your care “stuttering”.

Sometimes you shouldn’t even try to fix the truck. There are some instances when it’s much safer to wait inside for a tow truck. Here are some of the situations where it’s best to get a tow immediately. In nighttime, if it’s dark out, don’t bother with the repairs. You’re not going to see what you’re doing, and you’re at a greater risk of getting hit by a passing motorist. In winter if the weather is inhospitable, it’s dangerous to be out of your truck. For instance, if it’s icy out, other trucks can easily lose control and hit you. You’re better off surrounded by your truck‘s safety system, rather than out in the open. If you see lightning if there’s lightning out, you don’t want to be standing in the water, touching a big piece of metal. Stay inside the  truck, where the rubber tires provide protective insulation.

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