4 Times You Should Always Have Your Car Towed To The Repair Shop Instead Of Driving

When something serious is wrong with your car, you may be wondering if it's safe to drive to the mechanic or if you need to have your car towed. In some instances, driving to the mechanic will cause additional damage to your car — sometimes this damage can be as catastrophic as destroying your entire engine. Other problems can cause you to lose control on the road or cause your car to shut off in the middle of traffic. Here are four situations in which it's best to call a towing company instead of driving to the repair shop yourself.

1. Your Check-Engine Light Is Red or Flashing

When your check-engine light is on, it could mean anything from a loose gas cap to low oil pressure. While car manufacturers haven't standardized the meaning behind the various check engine–light colors, a red light or a rapidly flashing light both indicate serious problems with your vehicle. If you continue to drive your vehicle, you could cause the engine to seize up and catastrophically destroy itself. You should always have your car towed to a mechanic instead of driving it when the check-engine light is red or flashing.

2. Your Brakes Are Making a Loud Grinding Noise

Brake pads are manufactured with a small layer of metal underneath the normal brake pad material. The purpose of this metal layer is to notify you when your brake pads have become dangerously worn. When the pad clamps down on the brake rotor, the rotor quickly grinds away the metal and creates a loud grinding noise.

Your brakes are making this noise because your brake pads are near the point of failure. A failed brake pad can prevent you from braking and cause damage to your brake rotors. If you drive your car to the auto repair shop, your pads might fail on the way. It's safer to have your car towed, preventing you from losing the ability to brake in traffic and preventing damage to your car.

3. Your Engine Is Overheating

An engine that rapidly overheats after you start the car means that your cooling system isn't functioning correctly — your car may have leaked its coolant, or your radiator may be damaged. Overheating causes damage to the engine. Most modern cars have an automatic shut-off switch that engages when the engine temperature climbs too high — while this does prevent engine damage, it also means that your car may stop suddenly on the road as you're driving to the mechanic. To protect your engine and yourself, you should have your car towed to the repair shop.

4. You Notice a Burning Smell or Smell Gasoline

If a burning smell is coming from your car while you drive it, the likely culprit is an oil leak. Oil that leaks onto hot metal will scorch and cause a burning smell. Leaking oil is a potential fire hazard. In addition, low oil levels can cause your engine to seize. It's best to be safe and tow your car instead of driving it.

Similarly, the smell of gasoline is most likely caused by a leaking fuel line. While this is a simple fix at an auto repair shop, it's a major fire hazard on the road. Gasoline vapors ignite easily, which could lead to an explosion.

If you ever experience any of these situations with your car, be safe and call a towing company. Driving to the auto repair shop when you may lose the ability to brake, or your car may stop suddenly, endangers both you and others on the road. By having your car towed, you'll protect your car and prevent mechanical problems from becoming worse.