Quantcast tag

A message to our customers related to Coronavirus (COVID-19)

ALERT: Communication for customers impacted by the natural disasters. Learn More

ALERT: Communication for customers impacted by the natural disasters.

Our thoughts are with those affected by the natural disasters. We are here to help customers who've been impacted and contact us by evaluating:

  • waiving of certain fees
  • increases in credit limits on their cards to help with additional, necessary purchases

In times like these, people come together to help those in need.  At Synchrony, it’s our job not only to help our customers every day – but also when disasters like these strike.

Suddenly, your car conks out. Should you fix the car problem yourself or call a pro?


It happens when you least expect it. Suddenly your car stops by the side of the road, or in your driveway. Can you repair it yourself? Not likely, unless you’re an accomplished mechanic or do-it-yourselfer. But there are some things you can do to help lessen car problems.

Car problems aren’t always the car’s fault

Let’s start with some easy-to-fix problems that can be caused by the driver. 

Lost keys or keys locked in the car

Stash a spare key in a small magnetic box, sold in most auto supply stores. Attach it to a metal part of the car, like inside of a fender.1

Dead battery in your electronic key fob


Keep a spare battery in the glove compartment. Unfortunately, that won’t help you if you’re locked out. Your best strategy is to replace well ahead of schedule.

Gas gauge on empty

Running out of gas is no picnic. A good rule to follow is never let your gas gauge go below the halfway mark, especially if you drive in heavy traffic or congested interstate highways.

Shortened battery life

Electronic key fobs can drain the battery if they’re kept too near the vehicle. 2 What’s more, they can lock a driver out while the car is still running. So, keep a spare fob handy. 3

Car problems that might require professional help

Per a recent AAA (Automobile Association of America) survey (reported in Fortune magazine), one-fifth of all car problems require towing to a repair facility because newer vehicles are so complex that they can only be fixed by a mechanic.4  

Here are some common car problems and what you can do to help the situation.


It’s a common car problem, especially in warm weather.5 There could be a leak in the car’s coolant system, in the cooling system’s hoses or in the radiator wells. The thermostat5 could be stuck, so no coolant is getting to the engine. You could have a faulty water pump or broken fan belt.5 Another cause of overheating is a clogged radiator.6

If the temperature light comes on, pull off the road as soon as you safely can. Wait a few minutes, then open the hood to help the engine cool. Stuck in traffic? Turn off your AC. Or turn on the heater full blast to pull heat out of and away from the engine. NEVER remove the radiator cap if the car is running or has been running. You risk very serious injury from scalding water and steam that is under pressure.


You turn the key and nothing happens. Often, this is caused by a weak or completely discharged battery.  If the headlights or dash lights dim while trying to start, or your car turns over slowly, it may be an indication that the alternator, not just the battery, could be an issue.

Your EMS (Engine Management System) is your car’s “computer.”  If the EMS dash light flashes, it will require a trip to the shop.7

The high tension leads, which carry voltage to the spark plugs, can deteriorate with age or dampen. A damp-repellant spray can stop them from slowing down the flow of voltage to the spark plugs.8



Lots of car parts wear out. With any luck, you won’t be on the side of the road when they do. Here are three common problems that will probably require a professional mechanic.


Watch for a brake pedal that suddenly feels soft, or that you must push to the floor to stop. Brakes might also pull to one side. Experienced home mechanics can check and replace their own brake pads and rotors, and fill brake fluid when low.9


Once damaged, this is a shop fix. Be sure to check transmission fluid regularly. Listen for loud noises when putting the car in gear, or gears slipping and engine revving when you first start up the car. 


Springs, torsion bars, steering links, control arms and ball joints, or shock absorbers, just to mention a few, can wear, or fall victim to accidents or deep potholes. These systems are critical to driving safety. And if they break in transit, you’ll have to call a tow.

Bottom line: If you’re not an experienced home mechanic, it’s best to leave major repairs like these to a pro.


1 Open a Locked Car Door  (Dummies.com)

2 Today’s Key Fobs/Smart Keys Provide Convenience -- and Cause Problems (AutoServiceProfessional.com)

3 Smart Keys Not Making Americans Smarter About Getting Locked Out (Yahoo.com/News)

4 Despite Vehicle Advances, Break Downs at Record High (Newsroom.AAA.com)

5 The Most Common Causes of Car Breakdowns (SellYourProblemCar.com)

6 Reasons Why Your Car Is Overheating (ThoughtCo.com)

7 Why Check Engine Lights Come On, and Go Off (AgcoAuto.com)

8 How to Avoid Breakdowns: Keeping Your Car on the Road (TheAA.com)

9 Worst-Case Scenarios: 8 Biggest Car-Breakdown Headaches (CBSNews.com

Learn more

Be Car Care Aware  (carcare.org)


To get an idea of what repairs may cost before you commit, go to

Repair Pal (repairpal.com)

We include links to other websites in this article for your convenience. We do not endorse any content on these sites.

All product names, logos and brands are property of their respective owners. All company, product and service names used in this website are for identification purposes only. Use of these names, logos and brands does not imply endorsement.

This content is subject to change without notice and offered for informational use only. You are urged to consult with your individual business, financial, legal, tax and/or other advisors with respect to any information presented. Synchrony Financial and any of its affiliates (collectively, “Synchrony”) make no representations or warranties regarding this content and accept no liability for any loss or harm arising from the use of the information provided. Your receipt of this material constitutes your acceptance of these terms and conditions.

© 2018 Synchrony Financial. All rights reserved. No reuse without prior written consent from Synchrony Financial.