Should You Get Your Car Towed or Just Keep Driving?

16 February 2016
 Categories: , Blog

Chances are no one likes the idea of getting their car towed, and many car owners will try to keep driving their car even if they know it's having a mechanical problem. They may assume they can easily make it to a nearby service station if the car can still move forward, ignoring the damage they're doing to the car. While you may not like the idea of calling a towing service, note when it's good to get your car towed versus driving it.

1. Smoke

A slight wisp of smoke coming from under a car's hood on occasion isn't necessarily a dangerous thing; a small oil leak is not uncommon in cars and not always serious. When the oil drips onto the exhaust or engine block, you might see a bit of smoke as it burns. However, note your car's oil pressure if you see smoke, and if it drops or the oil light comes on, you don't want to drive your car at all. This smoke and the drop in oil pressure typically means that the leak is very serious and the engine could be running without oil at all, causing it to seize up.

If you do notice more than a wisp of smoke and your car doesn't have an actual oil pressure gauge, you might stop the car and, after it cools down a bit, check the oil level manually with the dipstick. If it's below the full level, stop driving your car and have it towed so you don't risk losing all the oil pressure.

2. If the brakes suddenly get very stiff

Stiff brakes, meaning brakes that continue to grip after you let your foot off the brake pedal or that seem to lock up too much, can be very dangerous. Brake pads may have come out of place, or the caliper or clip that squeezes the pads against the rotor may be failing. Your car's computer sensor may also need replacing so that it can't sense the pressure you're putting on the brake pedal. Brakes may seize up completely if you keep driving this way, so it's better to have your car towed.

3. If the temperature light comes on

Never ignore the temperature light. You may not see a coolant leak under your car, but this isn't the only reason it might overheat. Oil keeps the engine cooler, so if the car has an oil leak, the temperature gauge may go on before the oil light. The radiator fan may also be broken so that hot air isn't taken away from the engine, or your car's exhaust system may be blocked so that air can't get out through the tailpipe. Driving a car as it overheats can cause the engine to seize up, so don't risk it even for a short distance.

For more information and tips, contact a local towing company.