Your car is one of the largest investments you’ll ever make. And it makes sense that you spend so much money on a vehicle. After all, you depend on it to get you to work, the grocery store, and your kid’s soccer games. Your car is a crucial part of making your life run smoothly!

That’s why it’s so important to keep your vehicle in tip-top shape. You should make sure to take care of any recommended regular maintenance like oil changes and tire rotations. And also familiarize yourself with 7 of the most common car problems to help you be prepared for any expensive issues that might come up unexpectedly.

1. Dashboard Warning Lights

This is the most common issue in newer cars in the United States, thanks to so many vehicles now having onboard computer systems. Your car, truck, or SUV may suddenly display an illuminated warning symbol if the ECU (engine control unit) encounters an error code. There are over 200 possible causes of a dashboard warning light, so you should take your car to the mechanic to find out what it means and the best way to get the issue fixed.

2. Engine Misfires

Car engines run on a precise mix of gasoline and air that’s turned into power in the vehicle’s combustion chamber. This process can only be completed if every part of the ignition and fuel systems are running properly. If your car has begun to misfire or sputter when you start it up or while driving, chances are that you have an issue in the fuel or ignition system that needs to be checked out by a professional.

3. Dead Battery

Typical car batteries last a few years or around 50,000 miles. If you try to start your car and all you get is some clicking sounds from under the hood, you might need to replace your battery, which is usually caused by a decrease in electrical amps. You should also consider having a mechanic take a look at the other charging system components in your car to make sure they haven’t led to the death of your battery.

4. Worn Out Tires

Tire replacement is one of the most common car repairs, thanks to encountering so many chances of getting a flat during your daily commute. Everything from puncture damage to everyday wear and tear can lead to a flat tire. To help prevent this all-too-common car concern, you should have your tires rotated every 5,000 miles and take your vehicle to the mechanic immediately if you notice any issues with your tires when driving.

5. Noisy Brakes

Even though car brakes are actually designed to wear out over a period of time, they’re also a vital part of being able to safely stop your car and should be checked regularly for damage. If you hear any squealing, squeaking, or grinding when you’re behind the wheel, it most likely means that your brakes should be replaced ASAP to make sure you stay safe on the road.

6. Failed Alternator

Your car’s alternator is a key component of its electrical system, which keeps it running after you’ve turned the key. The alternator is also what supplies a charge to your car’s battery, which keeps it doing its job. You can probably understand why a broken alternator is a serious problem when it comes to keeping your car on the road. Your best bet is to replace the alternator before it breaks down totally, so you don’t end up stranded on the side of the road.

7. Stopped Starter

Even if your battery and alternator are functioning the way they should, you still won’t be going anywhere if your car’s starter motor has stopped working. Starters typically fail due to a damaged solenoid, which can be a hard problem to identify before you have an issue starting your car. If you’re buying a used vehicle, you should ask to have a car-starting inspection done before signing on the dotted line to avoid having to buy a new starter motor after driving away.

Although regular car maintenance is a great way to keep your car running like a champ, you can’t prevent all of the most common car problems from happening to you. That’s why it’s a good idea to have a solid back-up plan in place. You should think about starting a car repair savings account or look into a top-rated extended car warranty to help cover you when the unexpected happens.