If You Get 100% on This Car Symptoms Quiz, You Probably Know More Than Your Mechanic


By: Deborah Beckwin

7 Min Quiz

Image: Pexels by Craig Adderley

About This Quiz

Owning and maintaining a car involves at the very least knowing a good mechanic or being on top of taking your car in for servicing. There are so many issues which can come up – even when you have taken care of your car well. Some can be minor fixes, but others can be symptoms of a major problem that you have to fix ASAP.

We usually know what to do when certain warning lights come on in a car's dashboard. But what about a sound that you can't place? It's that annoying rattling, or a hissing that starts when you turn your car off. Or maybe your car shakes as you drive it, or you're starting to smell exhaust or gas in the car.

 Whatever the issue, it's helpful to know some of the common issues that can come with a weird sound or an odd smell. 

Cars today are incredibly complex and sophisticated because a car's computer controls mostly everything in a car. So even switching out your car's battery can be a little bit more complicated than it used to be. Because of that complexity, you'll want to consult your trusty mechanic for any problems or concerns you come across.

So are you ready to take this car symptoms quiz? We're sure you'll come across the finish line first with a checkered flag. Good luck and drive safely!

If a car is shaking while accelerating, and you've looked at a car's wheels, tires and engine, which of the following should you check out?

With a drive shaft, it could possibly need to be rebalanced. If the car is shaking because of U-joints, then they may need some new grease or protective boots, or possibly be replaced altogether. If the axles are bent, they'll need to be replaced.


What if a car is shaking while it's idling and the check engine light has come on? What should you check?

All of the answers are possible reasons for a car shaking while idling. But if the engine light comes on, then bad spark plugs or other wiring problems are most likely to blame. These answers can also be issues if the car is accelerating, cruising or braking.


A car shaking while cruising can be due to a number of issues. Which type of weather issue could be a factor?

Many times, if a car is cruising and shaking, the tires or wheels are to blame. But if you live in a snowy area, ice and snow can build up on tires and wheels causing it to shake. So besides parking in a garage or in a place that does not freeze, you can hose off the slush at a car wash.


If you find that your vehicle is shaking when you brake, which parts should you be looking at?

The wheel bearings may be worn out, which can also affect handling. The brake rotor, which attaches to the wheel bearing hub assembly, may be worn out which may mean repair or replacement. The same goes for brake drums -– you may feel vibrations in the brake pedal when they're out of round.


Finding that your heating system isn't working when it's cold out can be frustrating. Which of the following is NOT where you should look?

There are several reasons why the heater is blowing cold air. One of them includes a problem with your cooling system, such a low coolant level or a busted thermostat. Another place to look that isn't listed is the heater valve, which controls how much heat comes from heater core.


Where should you typically NOT look in a vehicle if a car is blowing hot air and the a/c is on?

If you're not getting any air at all from the vents, that's when you would look to see if the blower motor is malfunctioning. But for when the air is blowing hot, the a/c compressor may need to be replaced, or it have other issues which may need repairing.


The typical way to find out if your have engine oil leaking in a car is to see an oil puddle under the car. What is another way to find out you have an oil leak?

If you have a more modern car, you may not see oil leaking, but you may smell it burning (or hear it hissing or sizzling) or see that the levels are significantly gone down in a short amount of time. Oil leaks are bad for your car and the environment!


You turn your car off and hear some plinking sounds. What's going on with your car?

The metallic clicking you hear when you turn your engine off is quite normal and alright. It's just the engine contracting and parts from the exhaust cooling down.


You put your key in the ignition, but the key isn't turning. After putting on the parking brake, which of the following should you NOT be looking at?

If the engine is off, then you don't have to look there for the problem. But the battery is a different matter because if you have a more modern or sophisticated car, then the car may need electricity flowing first before the key will turn. If the interior lights don't turn on when you open the car door, the battery is most likely dead.


Out of the following answers, what is the most likely reason that your car has black or white smoke from the exhaust pipe after you accelerate?

An overheating engine can be a very frustrating and sometimes scary experience and there are a lot of reasons why it could be happening, such as there's a coolant leak. Other symptoms to pay attention to include the a/c stops working and your car's fuel mileage worsens.


When you press your brake pedal, you hear a scraping sound. What's going on with your brakes?

Hearing scraping isn't as bad as you may think. You've probably just picked up a pebble or stone in your brakes. But if the scraping sound sticks around, then take it to your mechanic so it can be removed and prevent further damage to your brakes.


As you start to accelerate your car, you start to hear a knocking or pinging sound. Where is it most likely coming from?

Knocking or pinging in a car typically means that something is wrong with the engine. One of the reasons could be that you need to use a fuel with a higher octane rating. Another reason could be that the engine's cylinders have carbon deposits.


There are many reasons why your car may be pulling to one side or the other while you drive it. But which one is NOT a possible reason?

Most of the time, when a car is imbalanced, it has to do with the wheel alignment. An accident or collision, or even driving over a pothole or large bump, can cause your car to become misaligned.


You've hit your brakes and hear a grinding sound. What diagnosis are you giving to the conditions of your brakes?

Hearing a grinding sound as you brake? It's time to stop driving and get your brakes fixed by a mechanic. What you're hearing are the brake pads' metal backings grinding on your brake rotors.


If your engine drive belt is loose or worn out, what's the sound you'll most likely hear?

If you're hearing a squealing noise from under your car's hood, then you've probably got an engine drive belt that is loose or worn. It's not the type of sound you want to ignore because once it breaks, you'll have bigger problems to deal with.


You may be one of the few who still drives a car with a manual transmission. What's happening to your car if you hear grinding as you shift gears?

Hearing a grinding noise as you shift gears can also mean that your shift linkage needs adjusting. But let's hope it doesn't mean that your internal transmission has been damaged, which is a more expensive issue.


The source of a rattling sound in a car can be hard to find. If you're driving and hear rattling, where are you usually NOT looking?

There are many possible sources for the rattling sound you hear in your car. It can be as innocuous as something rattling in the glove compartment or a cup holder to something more serious, like low oil pressure in your car's engine.


If your car's RPMs are erratic without putting your foot on the accelerator, what is this car symptom called?

When a car has a smooth and steady idle, the RPMs should be around 1,000 RPMs on your tachometer. When the car's idle is rough, the tachometer's needle is jumping up and down, which can be due one of many issues such as a dirty fuel injector or spark plug issues.


You have found a leak under your car and the color of the fluid is blue. What's leaking?

There are a rainbow of colors for the fluids your car uses. Windshield washer fluid should smell like window cleaner and is watery and thin in texture. If there's a leak, you should have a mechanic look at see if the reservoir is cracked.


This fluid can come in many bright colors and can leak from multiple places.

Coolant can be green, pink or yellow – but if it's orange, there is rust in the cooling system. It smells sweet and is viscous to the touch. You'll want to address this leak as soon as possible to prevent overheating, which can cause damage to your car's engine.


Driving long distances can be a lot easier with cruise control. Which of the following is NOT one of the reasons your cruise control isn't working?

Cruise control failures are usually electronic in nature, with the control module being the central intelligence of a car's cruise control. Speed and clutch sensors, along with brake and control switches, can also cause cruise control to fail.


If you find clear liquid leaking from your car and it's not water, what is it?

Leaking water from a car is usually found when the car has been turned off and there's condensation dripping from the car's a/c – not a problem. But if you smell gasoline, it's dangerous to drive your car, so contact your mechanic and ask what to do next.


If your car is idling or has been shut off and you hear hissing or sizzling, which is NOT a possible reason?

If the sizzling sound happens soon after you turn your car off, it's an oil drip or a coolant leak. If it's happening during while your car is idling, the engine is most likely overheating. Either way, a mechanic can help you get those issues diagnosed and fixed.


When you're driving and start to hear a chirping noise, which of the following issues could be the reason?

The chirping noise may not be constant as you change speeds. Another reason the chirping noise is happening is because you have a failing axle bearing. Either of these could mean that your wheel may get locked up or get loose, so you'll want to get that taken care of.


Sometimes starting your car in cold weather can be a challenge. Which of the following is NOT a reason that your car fails to start in the cold?

All of the other answers deal with liquids which can be affected when you're trying to start your car. For the car battery and fuel, getting your car to a warmer place helps, For engine oil, you'll need to either have your oil changed if it hasn't been changed in a long time; or you need to find an oil that's better for the wintertime.


What color should your car's exhaust be if your car is running smoothly?

If you see black exhaust, there's not enough air and too much fuel. White smoke is fine if you're first starting your car (that's vapor from condensation), but if you find too much white smoke, you have a coolant leak. Bluish gray or grayish white smoke indicates that your car's engine is burning oil.


You find that your windshield wipers are smearing on your windshield. So what's probably NOT the issue?

Wiper blades are made of rubber and one easy way to make sure they aren't smearing your windshield is to keep them clean. But rubber can dry out or crack due to extreme temperatures and pollution. So if you're keeping the wipers clean and they're still smearing, it's time to replace them.


If you start to hear a groaning or whining sound, especially when you turn your steering wheel, what is most likely the issue?

Power steering has been around for over half a century, but if you don't have it, it takes a lot more muscle and effort to turn a car. Usually the issue is a broken power steering pump and that is typically not an easy fix. You'll want to take your car to a mechanic to get this fixed.


A car battery dies and can't get a jump from another battery. Which of the following could be the cause?

Besides that it may just be time to get another battery, there are a few reasons why a car battery can't accept a jump from another one. Corrosion on the battery will look foamy and white and can be wiped off with a rag or towel or brushed off with a brush.


There are many reasons why a car fails to accelerate. Which one of the following is typically NOT a cause?

Without the right mix of air, fuel, spark, exhaust and compression, you can be getting nowhere fast and lose power in your vehicle. Loss of acceleration is typically an internal issue and usually should be given to your mechanic to check out and fix.


Especially if you have an older car, which of the following can decrease your car's fuel economy by 30 percent?

All of these answers can cause your fuel economy to decrease, but having older, misfiring spark plugs can make a car into a gas guzzler. Although spark plugs last up to 100,000, the last 20,00 miles can be where you start to experience the misfiring.


It can be scary when a car's engine stalls and continues to stall – it can happen out of nowhere. What's the general reason why a car will stall?

If you're not getting the right amount of air and fuel in your car's engine, then it can't combust and create the energy and power to make your car move. Air delivery and fuel delivery problems, along with many other issues which can cause a car to stall, should be checked out by a mechanic as soon as possible.


When the check engine light comes on, stays on and the car is only operating in its lower gears, what's going on?

When the engine light turns on and you're only in the lower gears, that's typically called "limp home mode", which means the car will drive more slowly. It's a safety feature meant to alert you that the car's engine needs servicing for a number of reasons including bad sensors, overheating or the car's engine misfiring.


If you hear a sucking or squealing sound from under the hood, what does that usually indicate?

Vacuum leaks in an engine can happen for several reasons, including a broken vacuum hose or tube. Usually, a car's sensors will cause the check engine light to come on as well.


You replaced your car's battery, but you're either experiencing your engine stalling or electrical issues. What's the most likely reason?

More modern cars have sophisticated computers controlling pretty much everything in a car. Removing the battery can cause it to lose its memory, such as something minor like the car clock going to 12 a.m., all the way to an engine stalling.


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