Cars don’t need to outright fail when on the road to need an urgent repair; sometimes they can still run and you can still control them even after something has gone wrong under the hood, but this doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to keep driving the car in these situations. This can make the repair even more complicated and costly and cause excess wear and tear on the car. Note a few unmistakable signs that it’s time to get your car to a mechanic and what you might be facing by way of repairs.

Oil

Your car’s engine might be greasy and grimy, but you should never see oil outside the engine or dripping onto your garage floor. You should also never overlook the smell of burning oil; in some cases, the oil may have gotten into the fuel tank so that it’s burning, or it may be that you have an oil leak and the oil is dripping onto the exhaust, causing it to burn. If you see or smell oil in any way, have your car checked for oil leaks right away.

Smoke

Some smoke might come out of the tailpipe of your car when you start it and it’s running cold, but it should never smoke anywhere else or at any other time. Don’t assume you can run an overly warm engine until it smokes and then allow it to cool down; that excess heat causes more wear and tear so the engine might just seize up. Smoke also may mean that you have a fluid leak and the fluid is dripping onto the exhaust, as mentioned above. This can mean you’re burning up your transmission, if it’s not an oil leak. Smoke coming from a tire can mean that the brake pads are slipping and grinding excessively, and they could fail. In all these cases, a mechanic should address the problem as quickly as possible.

Sounds

A squealing sound often means that the bearings in the tires are going bad; if you ignore these, you may not be able to turn your car. Grinding often means that brake pads are worn down and need replacing. A thumping sound might mean that you have a broken shock or spring and this puts added stress on the axles and tie rods, which connect the tires to the steering column. A whining noise when you start the car may mean that the starter or ignition is bad and is continuing to work even after the car has started; it can eventually fail altogether if you don’t get it repaired.