Ever been hit with a whiff of sweet syrup or rotten eggs while driving? It may be the car reaching out, telling you it's sick.
The Car Care Council (CCC) released a report this week connecting a vehicle sniff test to mechanical problems. Ignore that delightful "burning carpet" odor and the brakes may fail on the highway. Beyond the danger, overlooking the warning could leave you with a nauseatingly large garage bill.
Here are the CCC's top six stink signals of potential troubles that should be checked by a mechanic:
"Unusual smells can be the sign of serious, and potentially costly, trouble for your vehicle," says Rich White, the CCC's executive director, in a press statement. ""When you smell any peculiar odor, you should not ignore it."
Penny Gusner, the consumer analyst for CarInsurance.com, adds that you should be aware of any strange odors after an accident because there could be insurance implications. A typical policy will not pay to repair any additional damage to your vehicle that may come from driving it with an existing mechanical problem. Gusner's advice is to have the auto towed to a garage to better ensure your crash coverage isn't compromised.
A standard car insurance policy doesn't cover mechanical problems separate from an accident, but mechanical breakdown insurance (MBI) does. You can purchase the coverage through a car insurance company, an auto dealership and financial institutions such as a bank or credit union that handles vehicle financing.
While MBI doesn't cover normal maintenance and wear-and-tear on your car, it can add a layer of protection on top of an extended warranty or help cover costs after your warranty expires. The policies typically allow customers to buy repair coverage for a certain number of miles or months.
The cost for MBI varies, depending on the car's age, mileage, history and other factors. Deductibles also vary -- for example, Geico's MBI policy carries a $250 deductible.
A minimum policy may cover repairs such as these:
Purchase more insurance and you can add electrical, cooling, steering, air conditioning and fuel system repairs into the coverage. MBI policies do handle garage-time in different ways; some only pay for repairs done at a car dealership or by a preferred mechanic, while others allow you to pick any authorized mechanic.
Further, most MBI policies also cover costs associated with breakdowns, such as towing and rental car coverage, along with 24-hour roadside assistance and lock-out service.
Also, keep in mind that MBI may not be the smartest way to go. Edmunds.com, the auto pricing site, says it could be more cost-effective to save the money you'd spend on MBI and hold it in reserve to pay for any mechanical issues that arise.
MBI will not affect your regular vehicle coverage, according to the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) .
There's no connection between mechanical breakdown insurance and car insurance, because the breakdown insurance only covers repairs, which are not part of your driving record unless they are needed because of an accident. If you have an accident, those repairs are covered by your auto insurance, according to the PCI.
Thinking of buying some MBI? The PCI suggests asking the following questions before moving ahead:
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