14 Common Car Engine Problems

The engine is the heart of your car and it generates the power required to move the car and run all the systems inside your vehicle. A car with a problematic engine will not be reliable and will not be able to perform well.

Timely service reduces the chances of an engine problem. When it comes to engine care, there are no shortcuts. Any faults with the engine can be very expensive to repair and should be addressed promptly.

Although all engine problems are not serious, even minor issues can become major problems if they are not repaired in time. In worst cases, engine breakdowns may need an engine replacement. This is very expensive and for older cars, may not make economic sense. Lookout for these common signs of engine problems and get them fixed promptly.

Starting Troubles

A car that refuses to start could have an electrical problem, a problem with the fuel system or an engine problem. Most of the time, it’s the result of a discharged or dead battery. If you hear only a click or the engine does not crank briskly when you turn the ignition key, the most likely culprit is the battery. If you hear the engine cranking properly, but your car won’t start, it could be a problem with the fuel or ignition system.

Generally, a car that doesn’t start has a discharged battery, corroded electrical cables, a fuel-pump fault, a clogged fuel filter, a bad starter motor relay or a problem with the ignition switch.

Misfiring Engine

If the engine of your petrol car misfires, it’s usually a spark plug problem. This is more common in older vehicles. Spark plugs provide a spark to ignite the fuel and air mixture in petrol engines. When the spark plug is worn out, the engine cycles won’t run properly and the engine may misfire. This will cause increased fuel consumption and loss of power. In the long run, this could also damage the engine.

Engine Stalls

An engine that stalls while running is not just an inconvenience, it can also be a hazard. A car that slows or stops suddenly in the middle of a fast highway or a busy road can cause accidents.

If you experience engine stalls, however minor, get it checked by a good mechanic. Stalls can be caused due to fuel supply problems or malfunctioning spark plugs, but they may not always be related to the engine.

Engine Overheating

Car Engine Overheating

If the engine is overheating, the problem is usually with the cooling system. A blown or cracked head gasket can also cause overheating. The common causes are low coolant levels, radiator problems, clogged hoses, faulty thermostat, bad plugs, fan problems or coolant leaks.

When you notice your car overheating, slow down, stop in a safe place and call for a mechanic. Driving the car can result in serious and permanent engine damage. It will then need an engine replacement or rebuild, which will be very expensive.

Coolant System Problems

As a standard practice, the coolant is flushed every 30,000 miles or once every three years. If this is not done in time according to the manufacturer’s recommendation, the quality of the coolant deteriorates and the parts with which it interacts degrade. This will shorten the lifespan of those parts.

The coolant levels should always be adequate and it should be free of debris and deposits to work well and keep the engine temperatures within the safe range. Don’t wait for a problem before considering coolant replacement. Get it topped up and replaced at the prescribed intervals. If the coolant levels keep getting low even with regular top-ups, you probably have a leak or some other fault in the cooling system.

Radiator Problems

One of the reasons for an overheating engine is a bad radiator. This is again a result of poor coolant maintenance. Over a period of time, this results in deposits and sediments in the radiator preventing efficient heat exchange. Mixing hard water with the coolant is another reason for radiator deterioration. Hard water causes limescale formation and radiators may corrode as a result.

Smoke or Steam From The Engine

If you notice smoke or steam from the engine compartment, stop the car at a safe place and call a mechanic. It usually points to an engine problem like bad cylinders, worn gaskets, damaged rings or a bad crankcase. The problem can also be due to use of the wrong grade of engine oil.

Water Ingress Into The Engine

Water can enter the engine when you drive through deep puddles or in a heavy rainstorm. Water in the engine spells trouble. It can cause severe engine damage like bend piston rods. If the water reaches the combustion chamber through the intake, it will cause immediate problems.

If the engine stops and you suspect that water has gone into the engine compartment, call a garage. Attempting to restart the engine may cause severe damage.

Lubrication Issues

Car Engine Warning Light

Oil is what keeps the moving parts of the engine working smoothly. A lack of lubrication will result in metal-to-metal contact and the friction will damage the engine parts and cause overheating. In the worst case, it could result in the engine seizing. Timely oil change and use of the correct oil is the best way to reduce the risk of this problem. It is also important to keep the oil circulation systems in good condition.

Oil Pump Problems

If the oil pump malfunctions or stops working, the engine will not get adequate lubrication. This will eventually cause severe engine damage. Always use the engine oil of the right viscosity to ensure correct operation.

Oil Debris And Deposits In Engine Components

When the oil and oil filters are not changed as required, the oil becomes dirty and it may leave deposits and debris on engine parts like combustion chambers, valves, and spark plugs. Oil and oil filter changes are a part of periodic service. As long as you get your car serviced in time at a good garage, you are unlikely to face this issue.

Poor Mixing of Fuel and Air

For good performance and fuel efficiency, air and fuel have to mix well before it is ignited in the engine. Broken seals, holes in the cylinders and worn-out piston rings cause air leakages, which will prevent air and fuel from mixing well. If you suffer from low fuel efficiency, get your engine checked.

Malfunctioning Oxygen Sensors

The correct functioning of oxygen sensors is essential for gauging how much oxygen is present in the exhaust and how much fuel is in there in the fuel tank. A sensor malfunction can cause fuel inefficiency and problems for the engine.

Knocking Sounds From The Engine

If your engine makes knocking sounds while driving, there is something wrong with it. This is usually the result of too much heat or pressure within the combustion chambers. This causes the knocking sound, also called engine detonation or spark knock. The problem has to be checked and fixed quickly or it could damage engine components like the head gasket, pistons or piston rings.

Concerns Over Engine Problems?

If your car is well maintained and regularly serviced, you are unlikely to encounter most engine problems. When your car becomes old, some engine problems may occur and occasional repairs may be needed. Get your car serviced regularly at a reputable garage and call your mechanic if you notice any of the symptoms described above.

If you have concerns over a possible problem with your engine you can book your car or van in for a check, use the quick quote form below or give us a call on Oldham –  0161 624 5060, Bury0161 761 3030, Van Centre Oldham0161 628 5270 or at our new Heywood branch 01706 622633. We also offer a highly convenient Collect & Return service or a courtesy car to ensure your routine is disrupted as little as possible while your vehicle is serviced or repaired.

Arranging Your Service

Drop your car off
Simply drop your car off with us between 8am and 10am and in most cases your vehicle will be ready for collection the same day between 3.30 and 5.30. Outside these hours you are welcome to park.

Wait with your car
Most servicing and repair work can be done while you wait. If this is your preference we have a superb waiting area equipped with free hot and cold drinks and a interesting viewing area where you can watch our trained technicians working on your vehicle.

Courtesy car
If your vehicle needs to stay with us for 1 day or longer then you are able to pre-book one of our courtesy vehicles to keep you mobile.

Pick up / drop off
The ultimate hassle free solution; one of our drivers will arrange to collect your vehicle from your home or place of work at a pre-arranged time and then return your vehicle when the work is complete. Our service advisors will contact you when the vehicle arrives on site during the day to discuss the progress of the work and then advise you of the time you can expect your vehicle back. Contact our service advisors for more details.

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  • Definitely recommended - will be going back. Great company. Took my van in today - explained that i wanted to wait whilst the repairs were done - they had a technician on the van straight away. Work was completed quickly and efficiently whilst I waited in reception. A really nice bunch of knowledgable people providing a value for money service. I will definitely be going back, and would recommend.

    Andrew Statham
    08/09/2021

    I’ve had cambelt, water pump, service and ac service done at Volksmaster Oldham and the service was fantastic. I had plenty of questions regarding my car which Ryan answered all of them and I was kept informed on the progress of the work carried out. I’ll be using Volksmaster again and would recommend to anyone. Thanks again guys 👍

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    Jay Dixon
    27/08/2021

    Annual Service and MOT. Informed of work which was recommended, advised and work carried out accordingly within the price and timescales quoted. very good, professional service service

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    Andy Dougherty
    17/08/2021
  • Took our "smelly" Seat Alhambra in to Mike and the team at Volksmaster and as always got prompt, professional advice . Can't recommend these guys enough, their personal service is great and the quality of work is up there with the best. Thanks. Stuart

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    Stuart Roberts
    11/08/2021

    Recently took my Q3 to VM Oldham due to a problem with the windscreen washers. Problem quickly identified and resolved and I was able pick up the car within a couple of hours of dropping it off.
    As ever cost was very reasonable and I was given a full explanation of what the problem had been and how it had been rectified.
    Once again great service from my first choice garage.

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    Jeff Webster
    29/07/2021

    I couldn’t ask for a better service than Volksmaster. I’ve been taking my car there for the last 5 years and always felt so looked after. This last couple of weeks they’ve sorted a few issues with my car for me, the time frame and level of service totally exceeds expectations. I would never take my car to another garage. Can’t recommend enough.

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    Laura Haytack
    21/07/2021
  • Full service on VW Golf. Car was ready exactly at time requested, further advice regarding condition of other components provided for future reference/monitoring. All staff were very helpful and polite, thank you.

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    Craig Rostron
    05/07/2021

    Despite the cost very happy with the service I received last week for the condenser to be replaced on my VW Polo. Air con is working very well. Competitively priced despite the initial shock to my pocket! Even washed my car for me as well. 🙂 thank you

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    Holly Currie
    16/06/2021

    Awesome set of people always very helpful.
    Customer service 👍
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    Highly recommended

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    Jack Anchor
    11/06/2021
  • Absolutely fantastic family run business looked after me from start to finish I won’t hesitate in using these again and recommending them we use Volksmaster in our company so I did not hesitate in using them for my own car better service than the dealer in my opinion
    Thanks Ryan

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    Craig Taylor
    09/06/2021

    Great service, explained everything. Even washed the van. Recommended *****

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    Gary Mc
    01/06/2021

    I've been using Volksmaster for approx 7-8 years, (have used both the Oldham and Bury branch). Over the years the experience has always been top notch. Fantastic service, professionalism, great knowledge and honesty from all the staff who work there. I cannot recommend Volksmaster highly enough, thanks Mike, Steve, Dawn, Samantha and the rest of the team.

    Jay Avatar
    Jay
    28/05/2021
  • First time using these guys, Ryan the service manager was excellent, always got back to me, let me know exactly what was wrong with the car first time round, what it would cost and when it would be ready, they really know their stuff, polite and professional I would highly recommend this garage to anyone, oh and they even washed and waxed my car after the job was done.

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    Matthew Herd
    25/05/2021

    Service and MOT complete.No problems,friendly service as usual.Not the cheapest but they provide honest ,competent,valuable service.

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    Terry Coates
    28/04/2021

    Great to see the VW experts to work on my Winnebago Rialta which is half VW half Winnebago. First visit source a cambelt from overseas as it was very rare. Today they carried out a full service, MOT, and fitted the broken seat belt. ( Which was a bit of a job). And to top it all cleaned up months of lockdown storage moss. Thank you to the great team.

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    Tim Harrison
    22/04/2021
  • Always a quick and brilliant service from these guys, and after they've finished they even wash and clean your car inside. Cant fault the service at all. Will continue to use for a long time I hope.

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    Karl M
    20/04/2021

    Amazing customer service, couldn't do enough for me, very friendly and eager to help. Car went in for major service and MOT at 8am and by 2pm had a phone call to say was ready to collect. The car did need work doing which they did within this time frame! Speedy turn around. Marie and Danny contacted me to explain the faults found thoroughly and nothing was too much of a bother for them; so so helpful! Thank you so much to you both! Could not fault you or this garage at all. Highly highly recommend.

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    Lauren Osborne
    06/04/2021

    Always friendly, honest and gets the job done.The staff treats you and your vehicle like it’s their own, Great professional and friendly shop. Very passionate about supreme customer service/satisfaction.. If you are in need of automotive care, please consider Volksmaster LTD ,Great facility with dealer quality service and competitive pricing. Awesome service.!!!

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    Hamid Masud
    29/03/2021
  • Very professional. Main dealer knowledge and customer care but way way cheaper. Second time we've used them for our cars. For Vw/Audi/Skoda etc they know anything that can go wrong and the cost effective way to fix it. Very useful to have them on board. This time it was our Audi S3 which is back to as-new condition. Thank you to the team. Highly recommended.

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    Joseph Kotrie Monson
    27/03/2021

    Great service. They advised they could book me in on a Thursday after my Audi Q7 had a suspension failure. I dropped the car off on a Tuesday because it was virtually un driveable and by Wednesday they had given me a price and repaired the car.

    I'll be dropping the car off for a full service in the future. Natalie and Nathan were great!

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    Frank Griffin
    17/03/2021

    Top service, very knowledgeable staff. Definitely go back next time the van needs a service.

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    John Nichol
    17/03/2021
  • I was extremely impressed with the professionalism of the staff at Volkmaster. Used for the 1st time and was totally confident that they would get me back on the road, and they did. Level of service is great, friendly and polite staff. Cheaper than dealerships and a great service from the staff.

    Thank you Volkmaster 👍👍👍👍👍

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    Tariq Ismail
    17/03/2021

    I was extremely impressed with the professionalism of the staff at Volkmaster. Used for the 1st time and was totally confident that they would get me back on the road, and they did. Level of service is great, friendly and polite staff. Cheaper than dealerships and a great service from the staff.Thank you Volkmaster 👍👍👍👍👍

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    Tariq Ismail
    17/03/2021

    What an absolute pleasure to deal with from start to finish.
    Ryan even goes to the trouble of taking pics to show you without being asked. Having had my last car looked after by a main dealer (not the best experience) Volksmaster is like a breath of fresh air!

    Billy Menace Avatar
    Billy Menace
    15/03/2021
  • What an absolute pleasure to deal with from start to finish.Ryan even goes to the trouble of taking pics to show you without being asked. Having had my last car looked after by a main dealer (not the best experience) Volksmaster is like a breath of fresh air!

    Billy Menace Avatar
    Billy Menace
    15/03/2021

    Absolutely spot on service as always from Volksmaster, I've always taken my Audi's to them and the work they have carried out has always been perfect and I'll definitely continue to take my car there. thanks for the excellent service Volksmaster.

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    Jack Lancashire
    12/03/2021

    Absolutely spot on service as always from Volksmaster, I've always taken my Audi's to them and the work they have carried out has always been perfect and I'll definitely continue to take my car there. thanks for the excellent service Volksmaster.

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    Jack Lancashire
    12/03/2021
  • I would highly recommend Volksmaster , very knowledgeable and fairly priced, I like the fact that time is taken to explain what any faults are and keep the defective parts to sow you,and that no unnecessary work is carried out without talking to the customer firs.
    Great bunch of lads
    Thanks Volksmaster.

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    stephen cooper
    05/03/2021

    Excellent service from the team especially Nathan who kept me up to date with my GTI and also car mini valleted in the lockdown period.

    Mohammed Imran Avatar
    Mohammed Imran
    03/03/2021

    Got my CAM and crank correlation faults repaired. Supplied and fitted inlet manifold gasket, valves, magnets, housing and gaskets. Great service and done the job really quick. I had the car back in half a day. Highly recommended top technition Dave & Nathan.

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    U J
    02/03/2021

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