Can You Tell Us How to Fix These Car Problems in 7 Minutes?

Robin Tyler

Image: Tanya Constantine/Blend Images/Getty Images

About This Quiz

We love our cars, don't we?

There is nothing better than getting in your car over the weekend and taking a cruise! Along coastlines, or through a mountain pass. Just taking it all in as our vehicles do all the work.

But then... a clunk, whizz, and vrrrrr come from the engine... what could be wrong? Can I fix it? And more importantly, how much will it cost? It stands to reason. Cars are made up of many, many thousands of parts all working in perfect harmony to get us from A to B. And when things go wrong, we get worried!

Luckily, we are far better off now than in the past. Cars are just infinitely more reliable now than they were 60 years ago. They also have so many more onboard systems that help detect problems even before they can become something more serious.

That said, do you think you have what it takes to troubleshoot a range of common car problems? In this quiz, we will give you a scenario or question and test your knowledge of what the likely cause of the problem is.

Sounds easy, doesn't it? Let's hope you know you catalytic converters from your oil pumps!

Good luck!

Your car won't start. It is totally dead and the engine won't even turn over. What do you check first?

An engine that is totally dead and won't turn over could have a number of causes. The first thing to check is that the terminals are connected to the battery. You won't believe how easily these can actually come off.

A light is shining on your dashboard. It looks like a genie lamp with a drop coming out of it. What should you immediately do?

That light should not be ignored! If it starts to glow, check your oil immediately. If the oil in your engine is too low, it can cause massive damage.

You have noticed that your car has started producing white smoke from out the exhaust. What should you do to fix it?

The head gasket is no longer making a seal and this is probably as a result of a cracked engine block.

Another warning light is glowing on the dashboard. This time it is a box, with a + and - inside. How can you fix the problem?

The battery is not taking charge and either a cell is dead or your car's alternator is not working properly.

What should be checked on a car that starts hard and idles rough?

Fouled up spark plugs will not fire properly. This can certainly lead to your engine misfiring. In fact, it's a good idea to clean them regularly.

Your engine has started making a high-pitched squeaking sound. The first thing you should check is the ___________

A wearing belt, which is generally easy to spot as it would have frayed, can be replaced fairly simply. That will solve your squeaking problem.

Oh, no! Your car won't start. It won't turn over, and the dashboard lights don't even come on. And it's a brand new battery you have only had for a few months. What should you now check?

The alternator helps keep your battery charged. If it is not working, the battery will slowly drain of power. A dead alternator will eventually mean a car that is going nowhere. Luckily, they are fairly easy to replace.

Approaching your car, you notice a puddle under the engine. What should you check?

A leaking radiator is a massive problem. If not fixed, coolant levels will drop, your engine will overheat and could seize. A quick fix is to use a radiator sealant, but ultimately, it will need to be replaced.

While applying brakes, you have noticed a squealing and scraping sound coming from your wheels. Which of these would you investigate first?

Worn brake pads are dangerous! As soon as your brakes begin to squeal or shudder under normal braking, the brake pads should be checked and replaced if necessary.

A warning light is glowing on your dashboard. It shows a thermometer and some wavy lines. What is it warning you about?

An overheating engine is no joke. If the radiator has no leaks and you cannot see coolant on the ground once the car has been standing, then the problem could like with the thermostat. This helps to regulate the engine temperature and if broken, can make the engine overheat.

Your car is pouring black smoke out the exhaust. What should you check?

If an engine is running too rich, too much gas is been pumped into it, and it cannot be burned effectively. Not only are you wasting money but it means the engine is not running at the optimal level either.

You have tried starting your car but no luck; you notice the distinct smell of gasoline though as it tries to turn over. What is the problem?

A flooded engine simply will not start. This is because the gas/air mixture is too rich. There is too much gasoline for combustion to take place. Wait 20 minutes an try again but do not press the accelerator when starting the car.

If your car has an oil leak, what color fluid would you find under your car?

Most oil although black when new, will go a browning color once cycled through the engine as a lubricant.

While sitting in the passenger seat of your car, you notice an intense vibration. What could be the cause?

Because the driver holds a steering wheel, effectively steading themselves, some vibration are not felt as much as they would be in the passenger seat. An intense vibration felt while sitting there is in all likelihood a broken motor mount.

You notice a yellow glowing light on your dashboard. It is in the shape of a car engine. What do you do?

The engine warning light can indicate a small problem or it could indicate a big problem. It's better to get it checked out as soon as possible.

Your car has a lack of power and you notice the smell of gasoline. What should you check to fix this?

A problem with the fuel/air mixture could mean that the engine runs poorly. The carburetor regulates this and should be the first thing you check.

Your car won't start. You have checked the fuel pump, battery and starter motor and they are all working. What else could you check?

A spark is needed for the engine to turnover as this helps ignite the fuel/air mixture. The broken distributor means that the spark won't happen.

Your car won't start despite all the lights on the console working. It won't turnover but the battery is fine. What could be the problem?

If the battery is ok, the next thing to check is the starter motor. If the engine won't turn over, it may be jammed.

Your diesel powered car is blowing white smoke on startup. It also takes long to fire and when it does, runs roughly. What could be the problem?

Diesel engines are very different to petrol engines. Glow plugs help heat the motor to help it start. If they are faulty, starting might prove difficult.

What started out as a light tapping sound has now become a loud knocking noise. What could be wrong?

This is a SERIOUS problem. Stop the car before anymore damage is done, call a mechanic and hope the engine can be saved.

A driver behind you hoots and tells you to stop. He says your wheel is wobbling and handling did feel a little strange. How will you fix it?

Believe it or not, sometimes wheel nuts do come loose. Make sure you check them regularly.

Your vehicle is suddenly very loud, especially underneath along the length of the tailpipe. What should you fix?

Mufflers suffer wear and tear doing their job of keeping your car quiet. If they get a hole in them, they no longer do their muffling, hence a louder engine noise as the gases escape down the tailpipe.

Despite turning your old '65 Mustang engine off, it keeps on running for a bit. What must you fix to stop that?

Yes, a faulty ignition coil can cause a car to run, even though it has been switched off and the key removed. No, it's not the previous owner's ghost.

A car engine that has seized has done so why?

It's that simple. A car engine uses oil for lubrication. If there isn't enough, thanks to an oil leak perhaps, the engine will seize. Sadly, there is no quick fix and hopefully it was noticed in time.

A warning light is shining on your dashboard. It shows a circle with two brackets on either side. What should you be looking to fix?

Fairly serious as your brakes stop you, don't they? It may be a problem with the hydraulic system.

You have noticed a 'funky' smell when you put your climate control system on. What is the easiest thing to check to fix this?

The cabin air filter is found in the glove box in most vehicles. It helps clean the air coming into the cabin but can be clogged up with all sorts of nasties and then will start failing in its primary task. It is easy to replace.

If you are replacing the oil in your car, what else should be replaced at the same time?

As the new oil will flow through the oil filter, it too will need to be replaced to ensure the new oil stays clean and effective at lubricating the engine.

Another yellow warning light blinking on the dashboard. This time is the picture of a car and skidmarks behind it. What should you have fixed?

Not all cars have traction control. This system is great in keeping your car on the road but make sure you check it out when this warning light comes on.

Your car has developed a rumbling sound that increases as you go faster. How will you fix it?

A whirring or rumbling sound that increases as you speed up is a classic case of a worn wheel bearing. You will need to have it replaced.

You have noticed a terrible smell in your car lately. It's almost like rotten eggs. What could you check first to pinpoint the problem?

A smell of rotten eggs is generally a sign that your catalytic converter is failing. It cannot convert the exhaust gases into sulfur dioxide.

Driving at night, you notice that your headlights are not as bright as they usually are. What part in your engine could be failing?

The easiest explanation for fading lights is the fact that your battery is not been charged as the alternator is not working properly.

The front right hand tire is wearing excessively on the right hand side. What is wrong?

It is imperative to have your car's wheel alignment checked often. The slightest knock can put it out and that will lead to tires wearing unevenly.

You notice a rattling sound coming from underneath your car when you are driving. What is the likely problem?

Part of the cleaning system on the catalytic converter is a honeycomb cluster. This often breaks free from the housing of the converter and will then rattle. Replace the converter to fix this problem.

Your car won't start. You have checked the battery and starter motor and they are working. What else could it be?

A car needs fuel to start, it's part of the ignition process. If a fuel pump has failed, it will not be pushing fuel into the ignition system and the car won't start.

When starting your car at night, you notice that the interior lights dim. What could be the fault?

If there is a fault within the starter motor, it can often drain power during the startup process. That would cause the interior lights to dim. Replace it before it becomes something more serious!

About HowStuffWorks Play

How much do you know about dinosaurs? What is an octane rating? And how do you use a proper noun? Lucky for you, HowStuffWorks Play is here to help. Our award-winning website offers reliable, easy-to-understand explanations about how the world works. From fun quizzes that bring joy to your day, to compelling photography and fascinating lists, HowStuffWorks Play offers something for everyone. Sometimes we explain how stuff works, other times, we ask you, but we’re always exploring in the name of fun! Because learning is fun, so stick with us!

Explore More Quizzes