Feels Like Trouble

Difficult handling, a rough ride, vibration and poor performance are the kinds of symptoms you can feel. When the driving experience doesn’t feel quite right, look for:


  • Wandering of difficulty steering in a straight line can be caused by misaligned front wheels and/or worn steering components such as the idler arm or ball joints.
  • Pulling, the vehicle’s tendency to steer to the left or right, can be caused by something as simple as under-inflated tires, or as serious as a damaged or misaligned front end.


The following symptoms indicate problems with your brakes. Diagnosis and repair should be scheduled.

  • The vehicle pulls to the left or right when the brakes are applied.
  • The brake pedal sinks to the floor when braking pressure is maintained.
  • Scraping or grinding is heard or felt during braking.
  • The “brake” light on the instrument panel is lit.


  • Worn shock absorbers or other suspension components can contribute to poor cornering characteristics. Also check for proper tire inflation.
  • While there is no hard and fast rule about when to replace shock absorbers or struts, try this test: bounce the vehicle up and down hard at each wheel and then let go. See how many times the vehicle bounces. Weak shocks will allow the vehicle to bounce twice or more.
  • Springs do not normally wear out and do not need replacement unless one corner of the vehicle is lower than the others. Overloading your vehicle can damage your springs.
  • Tires always should be balanced properly. An unbalanced or improperly balanced tire will cause the vehicle to vibrate and may prematurely wear steering and suspension components.


Poor transmission performance may come from actual component failure or a simple disconnected hose or plugged filter. Make sure the technician checks the simple items first; transmission repairs are normally expensive. Some of the most common symptoms of transmission problems are:

  • Abrupt or hard shifts between gears.
  • Delayed or no response when shifting from neutral to drive or reverse.
  • Failure to shift during normal acceleration.
  • Slippage during acceleration. The engine speeds up, but the vehicle does not respond.


All of the following symptoms indicate problems with your engine. Diagnosis and repair are needed.

  • Difficulty starting the engine.
  • Rough idling or stalling.
  • Poor acceleration.
  • Poor fuel economy.
  • Excessive oil use (more than one quart between changes).
  • The “check engine” light on the instrument panel is lit.