This week, based on research for hundreds of modern used-car buying guides, I’ve compiled the following list super-easy fixes for a wide range of commonly-reported modern car issues across virtually all brands.
Each of the three fixes listed below can solve a wide range of irritating issues you might be encountering (or that you may encounter) with your modern car, truck or crossover.
If something doesn’t seem right with your ride, check the list below for your symptoms, and a possibly-easy and trouble-free fix that’s probably less serious than you think.
Locks acting funny? Power tailgate not opening and closing like it should? Random illumination of various warning lights for no apparent reason? Sporadic operation of one or more systems? Each of these examples, and others, can leave you thinking an electrical gremlin is on board, conspiring to irritate you with pricey problems.
Other symptoms might include wonky operation of the cruise control, infotainment system faults, and random car alarm activation for no apparent reason. There are dozens more.
A likely culprit to all of the above? Your battery.
When weak or dying, it may not be providing enough juice to the electronics that rely on it, which can lead to numerous random problems across multiple vehicle systems.
The solution is simple: many an owner say that replacing an aging battery with a new one has quickly solved problems like these.
The gist? If you’re thinking ‘electrical gremlin’, think about checking and replacing your battery.
Climate control concerns
Weak heat, poor air conditioner performance, defrosters that don’t defrost, and awful smells from the climate control vents can leave many drivers fearing a big repair bill.
But fret not: many owners forget to change their cabin air filter on a regular basis. This filter becomes clogged if it’s not changed on time, and suffocates your climate control system, leading to symptoms like those listed above.
In some cases, a clogged cabin air filter can cause damage and premature wear to air conditioner components, or even result in water leaking into footwell carpeting.
If you notice problems like those listed above, check your cabin air filter via the instructions in the owner’s manual. Cabin air filters are typically cheap and easy to replace, making for a speedy and inexpensive repair to many common climate-control issues.
Just like your favourite tablet or video game, your car sometimes requires a software update to correct or optimize programming of one or more systems in order to stop, or prevent, some anomaly or glitch.
Almost everything in your vehicle with electricity flowing though it is controlled by software, meaning that a horde of problems can be fixed or prevented with a simple software update.
These may be installed by your dealer automatically during regular servicing, or, when an owner reports a problem for which a software update is deemed a likely solution.
Hundreds of owners have reported software updates as the fix for problems like hard or clumsy shifting, crashing or lagging touch-screens, malfunctioning door locks or windows, unwanted battery drain, and even unpleasant odors from the climate control system.
Some software updates can improve fuel economy, engine smoothness, or the effectiveness of one or more safety systems, too. There are hundreds of other examples.
If you’re experiencing one or more problems that seem tied to one specific electronic feature in your vehicle, ask your dealer if updated software might be the fix.