It can be tempting to try to push on to the next exit or drive home when your car begins having problems on the road, but this can be a false economy. By attempting to save on the cost and inconvenience of calling for a tow, you could be causing even more extensive and expensive damage to your car. The following are a few situations where the best option available is to call for an immediate tow to the nearest repair garage.

1: Smoking Tail Pipe

Your tailpipe is supposed to vent exhaust—not smoke. Black smoke from the tailpipe can indicate something as minor as the need for a new filter or something as major as the burning off of engine oil. Blue smoke can also be a sign of leaked oil. Oil leaks lead to low engine oil levels, which can destroy your engine. White smoke indicates another big problem, leaking antifreeze, which can cause your car to overheat.

2: Engine Knocking

You should never hear a knocking sound from your engine. Knocking typically means that your car is running on low engine oil and is in danger of throwing a rod and seizing. If this happens, you will either need to have the engine rebuilt or you will have to buy a new engine—with neither option being particularly friendly on the budget. Instead, stop driving and have the car towed to a mechanic so the leak can be fixed before irreparable damage occurs.

3: Grinding Gears

If your car grinds or seems to have difficulty shifting into gear as you drive, then you are likely experiencing transmission problems. You will need to have the transmission fluid levels checked, leaks repaired, or gears rebuilt. Ignoring the problem can leave you stranded on the side of the road with a car that no longer can go into gear and move.

4: Axle Damages

A damaged or failing axle often presents as a clunking noise underneath the car. The car may start to vibrate severely or it may have trouble moving and steering. Not only is this unsafe, but further damage to the undercarriage can also occur if the axle breaks completely. 

5: Overheating

Never attempt to drive a car that is running hot and overheating, or a car where the radiator is overflowing or the radiator hose is cracked. Overheating will ruin your engine, which can lead to the need for both a new radiator and a new engine.

Contact an emergency towing service for more help.