In Part 1 of this series, we covered what to do if you find puddles of fluid under your car. Sometimes this is normal, and you don’t need to worry about it. In this article, we will cover other car problems that might not be problems. As always, if you’re unsure, ask your trusted mechanic.
Water Dripping from Tailpipe
This is a common occurrence, especially in colder weather. You may see drips or even a tiny stream of water coming out of the tailpipe. This is completely normal. Water, as it turns out, is actually a natural byproduct of the exhaust process. The gases coming out of the engine cool down as they go through the catalytic converter and muffler. During this cooling process, the gases condense, and one of the results is good old H2O (water).
I certainly wouldn’t drink the water that comes from your tailpipe, though. It’s probably pretty nasty. So, what can you do about this? Well, nothing really. This is a natural occurrence. It’s one of the main reasons why the exhaust system often rusts out over time. I don’t know if there is a solution to this, but it sure keeps the exhaust aftermarket alive.
From time to time, you may notice that your brake rotors look rusty. Of course, that assumes you have disk brakes. With drum brakes, you can’t see the surface unless you disassemble them. But disk brakes allow you to see the rotor in all its glory. And, at times, you may notice that the brake rotors seem rusted or even pitted with rust. So, what should you do?
Don’t worry, this is another time when you don’t really need to do anything about it. You will usually notice the rotors are rusty after it rains. This may also occur even in light rain or mist. What’s happening is that you are exposing a tiny layer of bare metal to the elements every time you apply the brakes. This bare metal easily oxidizes when it is wet or misty, and the temperature is above 32° Fahrenheit. That is because oxidation does not occur at or below freezing.
The solution? Drive your car and step on the brakes. You may notice the brakes are more “sticky” at first but will go back to normal after you apply the brakes a few times. Problem solved.
The Smell of Burning Oil
Sometimes if you smell burning oil, it can be a problem that should be looked at right away. However, before setting up an appointment with the mechanic, take a few minutes to think through what might be causing this.
If you just had your oil changed, it is likely that some of the oil spilled onto the engine. The oil may even have dripped onto the exhaust manifold, which, as you know, gets extremely hot. The burning oil smell will tend to go away fairly quickly, depending on how much oil was spilled onto the engine.
Also, if you or someone else recently checked your oil by looking at the dipstick, some of that oil could have spilled onto the engine, as well.
So, as you can see, there are some times when you see or hear, or even smell something that may not be a big problem at all. But I’ll say it again, if you have any doubts, talk to a trusted mechanic.