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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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, Bury – 0161 761 3030, Van Centre Oldham – 0161 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.
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.