Your instinct probably tells you to take your car to the local mechanic when you're dealing with a mechanical issue. However, there are some situations in which you should call a towing company to do the honors instead of driving the car there yourself, even if the mechanic's shop is right down the road. Driving your car in some situations can cause extensive -- and expensive -- damage to your car that will lead you to regret attempting to drive it to the mechanic in the first place. Others can affect your safety and the safety of others who are on the road. These are some of the situations in which you should hire a towing company immediately instead of driving your car even a second longer.

1. Overheating

There are a few signs that you can look for to determine if your car is overheating, such as a rather sticky and sweet smell coming from under the hood, smoke or steam coming from your engine or a temperature gauge that is above normal. If you notice any of these signs or otherwise think that your engine might be overheating, you need to stop your car immediately and avoid driving it until it can be looked at by a mechanic. In some cases, the problem is caused by something simple -- and cheap -- to fix, like a busted radiator hose. Driving your car for any length of time while it is overheating can cause serious engine failure, however, which can result in the need for repairs that cost big bucks. Plus, a blown engine can -- and will -- leave you stranded.

2. Serious Tire Issues

If you need new tires but aren't dealing with serious baldness, you can sometimes drive to the tire shop -- just be careful about driving on wet roads or in the snow or ice if your tires are less than optimal; also, drive carefully and slowly, and be careful about slamming on the brakes or overcorrecting when your tires aren't in good shape. If your tires have very low tread, however, it is best to avoid the dangers of driving at all. Also, a flat tire can pop and make handling your vehicle difficult or impossible, can lead to rim damage and can otherwise pose safety issues and other issues to your car. If you can't put a spare on it, you may want to hire a towing company instead.

3. Brake Problems

Brakes that have just started squealing but that still stop as they are supposed to (for now) need prompt attention, so if you drive straight to a mechanic, you should be fine. If you hear more serious issues -- like grinding noises -- or if your brakes do not stop like they are supposed to when you apply the brake pedal, you should never attempt to drive your car. Keep yourself and others on the road safe -- and avoid additional damage to your braking system -- by having your car towed instead.

Contact a service like Big Valley Towing to learn more.