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Common car engine problems: Diagnosing, Troubleshooting and Fixes

The engine is a critical aspect of any car. It’s responsible for powering everything from your lights to the audio system in addition to running most functions on-board! But sometimes, this vital part gets damaged by problems that aren’t always easy to diagnose, let alone fix.

A lot can go wrong with the engine: it may misfire or produce excessive oil consumption; spark plugs might jam up due to poor maintenance practices over time; fuel systems could be leaking, causing strange smells around town when gas stations open their doors at 7 am sharp every morning, these are but examples of car engine problems.

Caring for your car’s engine means you can enjoy the ride in safety and comfort. If something doesn’t feel right, take it to an auto repair shop so that a trained professional mechanic can diagnose the problem for sure!

This post will highlight some of the most common engine problems, how to troubleshoot engine failure by checking some of the signs and symptoms of engine issues, and how to do an engine health check.

Read more: Guide: How to Maintain and Protect Your Car Engine

Common car engine problems:

Misfiring engine

A variety of reasons can cause a misfiring engine. The engine’s control unit could be having an issue, clogged fuel injectors, or you might be using the wrong spark plugs.

Cooling system parts could be leaking.

This is a common problem with many engines in the auto industry. If the engine coolant leaks out of the radiator, then your engine may overheat. As a car owner, always ensure that you check the radiator hoses for signs of leaks.

Dirty engine coolant

Your radiator should be flushed and refilled after it covers over 100,000 miles. If there is any residue in the radiator, you may have engine damage. It may also cause a burnt out radiator if left unchecked in an auto repair shop.

Malfunctioning oxygen sensor

Oxygen sensors often wear out after the vehicle travels an average of 100,000 miles. Therefore, get it checked after every few years.

Old combustion parts

Your car will lose compression if there is any leak in the combustion chamber. This may lead to a problem with the combustion process. Hence, have the engine checked for any holes in the cylinders. Worn out pistol rings can also cause an engine to lose its power.

Oil starvation

A failing oil pump or a lack of motor oil can cause oil starvation. If this takes place, the engine parts will slowly start to fail.

How to troubleshoot engine failure

Before your engine fails, you should not miss some telltale signs of the engine failing. Realizing the problem early enough is important for car owners because it can mean that your engine might be salvaged. Therefore, car owners always are on the lookout for any danger.

Here are some common signs that might help you troubleshoot engine failure:

Suspicious noises

After spending some time in your car, you will get accustomed to how your car sounds. Thus, if there is any unusual noise, you will know.

Some suspicious noises you should be concerned about include:

  • Squealing- this is often the case when the fan belt is loose. However, you may tighten it up by reading the car’s manual.
  • Knocking noise- if you hear a thumping or knocking noise, the chances are that the rod bearings are worn out and gotten too loose. Most likely, the bearings will fall out soon.
  • Grinding- any grinding noise means that the front brake pads are worn out, which can be dangerous.

Too much smoke coming from the tail pipe.

It is normal for a vehicle to produce clear smoke. However, if it gets blue smoke, oil is leaking from the engine. Therefore, this oil is being combusted with the fuel instead of lubricating parts of the engine. You may fix this by adding engine oil to the crankcase.

Fluid under the vehicle

If you see an oil patch beneath the car, this could indicate an engine coolant leak. It can also be another serious engine problem.

The car is using more fuel than usual.

Your car should provide you with fuel economy. When you notice that you run out of gas much earlier than your regular commute, then your engine has a problem. The problem might be caused by the following:

  • Fuel leak
  • Faulty spark plug
  • Blocked injectors
  • Clogged air filters
  • Bad air sensor
  • Reduced engine power

If you experience a delay after pressing the accelerator or the engine is not revving, as it should, then your engine has an underlying problem. Experts best diagnose this problem, and they will get your engine to optimal performance. Therefore, take your vehicle for an engine diagnostic as soon as possible.

How to do an engine health check

Doing health checks will assist you in recognizing any common engine-related problem. As a result, it will last longer. Here are simple steps on how to carry out an engine health check:

Look into the vehicle’s service history.

By looking at the vehicle’s past service history and any maintenance activities carried out on the engine, you will get a clear picture of any areas of concern. Many engines have recurring problems, and it is best to be prepared for any scenario. Therefore get the car serviced often.

Distinguishing any signs of engine trouble

Take a look under the hood and spot any physical signs of engine trouble. Here are signs to look out for:

  • Leaks
  • Burning smell when the engine is turned on.
  • Debris build-up on battery terminals
  • Low oil levels

Check for the color of the fumes.

The tailpipe can say a lot about a vehicle’s health. The smoke should be grey or white for a healthy vehicle and should not give off any diesel smell.

Any other color, blue or black, indicates that the engine is burning oil.

Cold start the vehicle

If the car does not start easily, the battery could have an issue. Additionally, if you hear any rattling noise, the timing belt could have a problem.

Listen in to the vehicle’s idle noise.

When the car is idle, it should not give away any noise. It should be level, stable, smooth, and has no lulls in power.

Frequently asked questions

What are the most common engine starting problems?

  • Dead battery
  • Fuel delivery issues
  • Failed ignition switch
  • Malfunctioning starter motor
  • Faulty alternator

How do I know if I have damaged my engine?

Some signs of car engine damage are a loss in engine power; the vehicle is making strange noises, the car leaks oil patches, the engine is running roughly, or the car is using more gas than usual. These can be signs that you have engine damage.

What are the top 5 signs of engine trouble?

  • Loss of power
  • Vibrating
  • Poor gas mileage
  • Blue smoke
  • Knocking noise

Most common causes of engine failure

  • Overheating engines
  • Inappropriate lubrication
  • Bad fuel pump
  • Ignoring engine oil lights- always check engine light

What does a car health check involve?

It involves a visual assessment of the tyres, brakes, wheels, wiper blades, check engine light and steering wheel issues. Additionally, a professional mechanic will check on the transmission fluid levels of the vehicle.

The best way to keep your engine at optimal performance is to carry out regular maintenance operations. Any ignition problems, water pump blockages, broken plugs should be well cared for in your local garage. However, always ensure you have enough oil and fuel as you go on your journey.

Lastly, are you in the market for second-hand car parts? Look no further because is Europe’s largest market for second-hand car parts. They have products for any vehicle brand. Visit their website today.





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