It's not difficult to notice major signs that your car is in need of repair; when the steering becomes very stiff, the brakes don't grip or there is billowing smoke coming from under the hood, then of course the car needs servicing! However, knowing some small signs of needed repair can mean getting that work done quickly so you don't need to worry about major repair bills in the future and so you can avoid outright engine failure. Note a few small things that are often easy to overlook when it comes to your vehicle's maintenance and repair so you can get your car to a shop as soon as you notice any of these.
Sludge on the dipstick
Checking the car's oil levels regularly is a good way to ensure those levels are sufficient and that your engine is lubricated properly. When you do this, note whether there is sludge or thick debris on the end of that dipstick. This is usually oil that is not being used by the engine and which is sitting in the oil reservoir, gathering debris and becoming thick over time. This is a serious problem, as all the oil in that reservoir should be circulating around the engine compartment. When it doesn't circulate properly, there may be a problem with the lines that deliver that oil to the engine compartments, and these should be checked as soon as possible.
Don't wait for the dashboard warning light to come on if you suspect your car is running too hot, as the engine may be getting too warm while it's operating, but not hot enough to set off this alert. You also don't want to overlook this problem, as an engine running any hotter than usual may not be getting enough coolant or oil, and this heat can put added wear and tear on the engine itself. The thermostat itself may also be broken so that the warning light won't alert. In all cases, don't wait until that light comes on to have your car checked for needed repairs.
When the engine vibrates very loudly or suddenly starts vibrating more than usual, this can mean that there is metal-to-metal contact, often due to lack of oil or because of old, thick oil. You can try a full oil change with high-quality oil and note if this reduces those vibrations; if not, there may be a leak in the oil lines or along the gaskets that seal those piston chambers.
Contact your local vehicle repair service for addition information.