The car is one of the most imperative needs of an individual. As a car driver, you should know by now that the majority of drivers do not know much about the issues and common car engine problems.
But as a driver, you must know everything about your car and must have great trust in it and you should expect from your car that it always starts when you need it. It must be fit enough to ignite the car engine as soon as you turn the keys.
If it denies igniting the engine upon turning the keys, there would be nothing more annoying and inconvenient than this situation. Everyone who has a car relies on it and definitely a car relies on its mechanical components and structures and electrical components.
These parts and components work in a series of components to work more efficiently in a harmonious way. If any of the parts or components in a series fails to perform accurately, it means that you are in trouble and if you are unaware of the issue, you will definitely face massive garage bills or can even kill your engine.
The engine problems are always annoying and because of massive garage bills when it comes to the maintenance, it is recommended that you should know about the issue and its severity as well so that the garage people can ultimately focus on the issue.
If you fail to do so, you could definitely end up facing massive repair bills. With the help of timely maintenance, you can safeguard yourself from all these issues and can reduce the chance of breakdowns in the car.
With these things in mind, this article will guide you through the most common engine problems and increase your knowledge base. This will also decrease the risk of expensive repairs because this guide on the most common engine problems will master your knowledge.
Let’s start with the most common issue in almost every season and it is engine overheating. Why does a car engine overheat?
If your temperature light is ON and your engine overheating, there can be more than one possible and potential reason including the coolants and cooling system failure, etc. but the actual need here is to find out the reason why the engine is overheating.
If the issue is coolant then you can simply fill up the coolant reservoir under the bonnet of the car. But this is a possible reason because there are many other reasons for which an engine can heat up.
If all issues are left unattended permanently or for a long time, then the heat can kill your engine. If the car is overheating and steam and vapors are pouring out from under the bonnet, and the temperature gauge has started rising during the driving or an electronic warning is popping out in the relatively modern cars.
In the case of car overheating, an unpleasant smell will come through the air coming from the air vents in the passenger cabin. What are the other reasons for an engine overheating, let’s have a look at them all, possible reasons that your car might overheat if it faces anyone out of the following issues?
- Thermostat valve failure
- Low coolant or even no coolant
- Vehicle cooling system failure
- A damaged or faulty radiator
- Cooling fan malfunction
- Kinked, split, or perished radiator hoses
- Coolant system leakage
- A faulty or open radiator cap also overheats the engine
Air filters, if clogged or even poor quality filters overheat the engine
A major problem is a cracked or damaged head gasket
Immature ignition and defective sparkplugs also play a vital role in engine overheating. So, if you are facing an overheating issue, there might be one or more reasons that are actively damaging your engine.
There is a strong need to visit your mechanic and ask him to diagnose closely. Get a full idea of the parts and repair bills so that you can fix them.
What to do if the car overheats
Keeping driving a car that is overheating can cause the entire engine failure. It is always advised that stop driving your vehicle which is overheating to save your engine from further damage.
So, it is always better to stop the engine as soon as possible because it will save your engine from potential damage. Although, if seen technically, the car still can be driven for shorter distances every time, when the heat gauge jumps up, let the vehicle cool up.
But is not recommended at all because the risk factor is relatively very high.
Turn the air conditioning off
If your car has an air conditioning system, simply turn it off because the air conditioning units usually work directly with the engine.
By turning it off, the additional load on the engine will be removed. This way the engine does not need to work hard and it will not overheat for a bit longer.
Turn the heater ON
It is also recommended that you can turn the heater ON and turn it to the FULL state. The heater has a coil core inside and it pulls the heat out of the engine. Turning on the heater at full state will pull the heat out of the engine and throw it out into the cabin.
Roll the window down to push the heat out of the cabin to keep the temperature of the cabin in control. Depending on the weather and time of the year, you definitely need to control the temperature of the interior of your car.
The cabin might be a little depending on the time of the year, and the outside and interior temperature, the cabin of the car might get a little warm if you don’t control the cabin by opening the windows.
Pull aside and Stop the car
If you are driving on the motorway, it is recommended that you must pull over and turn the engine off because it will not cool down this time by turning the heater ON, as this technique doesn’t work on the motorway speed.
After turning the engine off, now start finding the signs that why your vehicle engine is heating up, such as if your coolant level is down, or you have a cooling system failure, etc.
Call for help
It is highly recommended and even is a warning for the driver that you must not remove the cap of the radiator at any cost until the engine is hot.
It is because if your engine is hot, there is a likely chance that there will be pressurized steam inside the radiator cavity, and not only that but scolding hot water can also burn your hands and even face.
If the car has lost all its coolant then you must not restart the engine and call your recovery and breakdown service provider and get in touch with your garage to recover the vehicle.
2-Engine Will Not Start
For an engine, it is very common to get heated when it is running so, the temperature issues are nothing serious until the temperature gauge remains behind the red zone. But on the other hand, if the engine of your vehicle fails to start, what would you do then?
Yes, it is one of the serious conditions you have to face now, as your engine is revolving but not igniting. This situation might have a number of issues in different parts of the vehicle, but the most likely issue will be one that is actually stopping the engine from starting up.
The engine is not starting is one of the most common issues and more than 80 percent of drivers face this issue every day all this happens because of any one of the following issues.
- Your car has a Faulty battery
- Battery terminals can be corroded or poorly connected
- The fuel pump failed working or has air bubbles in the injection system
- Fuel filters are blocked or clogged
- Fuel injectors are blocked or even just dirty
- The ignition switch is broken or faulty
- Starter motor malfunction and not getting power
- An alternator problem or a damaged wire in the ignition system can also
You need to see all of these issues in a broader way to understand the issues and why any of the said issues can kill the engine.
It is one of the easy tasks to detect the battery issues because as soon as you will turn the switch on and try to give the ignition to your engine, the dashboard lights will go dim, and even upon leaving the key knob they will remain dim.
Or you will simply hear the click sound when turn the key knob and the engine will not even turn. Usually, car batteries go flat if you leave the headlights or interior lights on unintentionally.
This situation might arise when you leave the DVD player switched on when the engine was off. If the battery is flat and it might be possible that you can still jump start the car. However, if the battery is damaged or faulty, you might not be able to do it.
However the battery is faulty, you will face the trouble of starting the car and it is time, you need to replace your car battery as soon as possible. But if you think that your battery is ok, you need to visit your local garage and test inspect your battery.
If your garage says that your battery has gone then you must replace your battery pack and buy a battery with a comprehensive warranty.
Poorly Connected or corroded Battery Terminals
Engine start problems linked to the battery power can also arise due to bad battery terminals e.g. corroded terminals and offer the loose connections. Pull the terminals out by losing the terminal screws and apply some oil or grease to the terminals and again tight them.
If your car is a lazy starter then you must need to check the terminal’s positives and negatives. Look for the +, – signs on the battery and tight them again where they are necessary.
An obvious sign of older batteries is rust on the battery terminals and arising of salt particles on the batteries. The salt and the other particles must be cleaned from the terminals every week or bi-weekly as suits you.
To do this cleaning, add a tablespoon of soda into a pint of hot water and clean the terminals with the mixture with the help of an old toothbrush. Secondly, grease the terminals and tightly screw the terminals tight.
Especially if the signs keep arising on the negative terminals, this means that the battery is under strong charging and then if the same sign arises on the positive terminals, it means that the battery is overcharging which is a dangerous sign for battery health.
3-Failed Fuel Pump
What does a fuel pump do? This is what it says, fuel pump, yes indeed, it pumps fuel into the combustion system. Pumping fuel into the combustion system effectively increases the efficiency of the engine and increases the power delivery at the same time.
If there is an issue in the fuel delivery system, or it suddenly stops working or delivering fuel in an unbalanced way, all these situations would not let the engine start.
There can be a number of reasons that can cause a fuel pump to malfunction and the clearest symptoms will be any one of the following
- Engine crank revolving but not igniting
- A sudden increase in fuel consumption and thus the smoke on the tailpipe
- A sudden decrease in the power and pressure
- Temperature increase or overheating
- The engine choked while running and did not respond at all
These are the most common signs that a driver can easily detect and can easily decide that the fuel pump facing issues.
Whenever the vehicle behaves erratically and any of these symptoms arise, it is clear that the fuel pump has issues and you must ask your mechanic or garage to fix the issue or replace the fuel pump.
4-Blocked Fuel Filter
One of the most common and equally dangerous situations arises when you have a clogged fuel filter, it blocks the fuel supply and might develop serious issues to the engine and fuel pump at the same time.
Fuel filters work like a guardian of the engine and prevent dirt from entering the fuel injection system. If the filters are clogged, fuel delivery will be blocked and the engine will fail to work efficiently and effectively which will lead to the following issues.
- Engine failing to start
- The engine is lethargic to start
- Uncertain power under acceleration
- Erratic and unbalanced power delivery
- Engine misfires, cut-outs, or even die
- The engine sounds rough when idling
The only solution is to replace the fuel filters with the brand new filters that the manufacturer recommends. Quality filters will never be left you stuck on the roadside.
5-Dirty Fuel Injectors
The fuel injectors are the most imperative precision component in the fuel injection system and they work inside the combustion chambers where they inject the fuel in the form of very thin and fine spray.
They sprinkle fuel in the combustion chambers at ultra-high pressure and make smoke spry. For the best mixture of performance and economy, clean fuel injectors are very important and the performance of fuel injectors also improves the carbon emissions quality.
Following are the signs when your vehicle requires a fuel injectors cleaning process and when any of these signs arise, you must act positively and go for cleaning of the injectors.
- Engine misfires
- Loss of performance and power
- Engine stammers
- Engine stops unexpectedly or idles unevenly
- Fuel consumption goes drastically high
- Your car fails the emission test on its annual checking
Again if you experience any of these issues or feel that your car engine is not even anymore, you must think about cleaning the injectors.
6-Broken or Faulty Ignition Switch
This is one of the minor but most attention taking repairs that your vehicle actually requires. Sometimes your car fails to start just because of the ignition switch malfunction. Simply turn the keys in the ignition switch and if nothing happens just go for a more in-depth investigation.
Usually, ignition switches work in three stages, at the first stage they turn the electrics on and start the dashboard so that you can see all the readings on it, however at the second stage, the ignition switch activates the power of the ignition system and fuel injection system, so that you can start the vehicle engine by turning the key just another and final time.
If there is an issue with the ignition switch, it can lead to many issues from sudden power cut off to engine stop and other systems stoppage. You can face the following issues if the ignition switch has any issues.
- Car engine stalls or cut out when you are driving it
- The vehicle starts but the engine dies
- A number of the vehicle’s accessories will stop working as well
- The dashboard lights flicker occasionally when you turn the ignition on
- Nothing happens upon taking the ignition turn
Normally, wear and tear in the ignition switches because the failure as the vehicle gets older. Luckily, this part is easy to replace and it’s something can buy from any upright vehicle workshop.
7-Defective Starter Motor
The starter motor is actually responsible for starting the engine by revolving the crank through the flywheel. The starting motor takes power from the battery and revolves around the engine to start the ignition and combustion process.
From time to time, starter motors require maintenance and if not maintained on time, they become faulty. There are few indicators that can actually tell the driver that his starter motor is facing issues. Typical indicators are as follows,
- Upon twisting the ignition key just listen to a hard tick but the engine will not turn over,
- Motor sounds like a grinder
- The Starter motor engages but is unable to turn over
- The smoke smell coming from the engine compartment
- You can see or smell smoke coming from the engine compartment when starting the car
Particularly if you notice the smoke emitting from the engine compartment when you start your car, this could be the sign of a faulty starter motor. This is also the sign of a running starter motor even if the engine is in life.
It clearly mentions that the starter motor has blown out or it has a blown fuse or might have a circuit shortage. This situation requires attention and needs to fix as soon as possible. The starter motors are repairable electric parts and can be repaired at a low cost.
Now you know that a dead battery means you cannot start your engine but a dead alternator means even more critical because the alternator generates current and charges the battery.
A faulty alternator can damage the battery or even the entire electric wiring of your car. If the alternator develops an issue, it will continuously charge the battery on the go and will ruin the battery life.
Ultimately it will leave the battery dead. The signs of a faulty alternator are as follows.
- Flickering and dim lights
- Weak battery
- Frequently jump-starting the vehicle
- The battery warning light comes on
A faulty alternator will give a warning of quick voltage and will tell you that your alternator is facing issues. You can check the voltage at any of your local garages and this diagnostic will also give you an estimated quote for the repair or even replacement of the alternator.
If an engine is excessively smoking then it is an indicator that there is something wrong with the engine. There is something not actually right and this situation needs an instant and in-depth diagnosis.
There are four types of smoke that could be seen on the exhaust pipes. Black, blue, grey, and white, depending on the color of the smoke, the problem can be determined.
Blue Engine Smoke
If your car is emitting bluish smoke on the exhaust pipes, it means that your engine is eating engine oil.
It means that the engine oil is leaking somewhere into the combustion chambers and most probably it is due to worn valves or the piston rings, they need to be replaced and repaired.
Grey engine smoke
A grey smoke on the exhaust pipe is a bit hard to diagnose because it can have a number of meanings and in some cases, it means the engine is burning oil and have a faulty turbocharger.
It could also mean that the transmission has an issue and the transmission fluid is burning inside the engine. This happens when the transmission vacuum modular malfunctions. Sometimes a PCP valve is stuck and needs attention and needs repair as soon as possible.
White engine smoke
A condensation building up in the exhaust system is not a big deal but if the white smoke emissions are heavy then it is recommended to investigate the issues as soon as possible.
This is because the coolant is leaking into the combustion chambers. This sign indicates a damaged cylinder head. Overfilling engine oil into the oil sump can also cause the same issue.
Black engine smoke
When an engine faces clogged air filters, the engine started black smoking and it is one of the more serious issues because it indicates faulty fuel injectors, and sensors or maybe an issue with the fuel pressure regulator.
Black smoke is actually a serious problem and it signs that your engine is burning extra fuel and must be fixed as soon as possible. It must be arranged to get it fixed by any qualified garage or expert.
10-Bangs, Knocks, and Weird Noises
This is the last but not the last, unusual noises and rattling sounds coming from the different areas of the engine are strong indicators that there is something wrong with the engine and your engine requires diagnosis.
These noises and sounds can be further categorized to actually identify the issues. For example, it is better to identify these sounds separate from each other. Covering squealing, knocking, pinging, and ticking can be the better identifiers but at the same time, you can also use the pops, clicks, and all other unusual sounds.
Apart from all these categories, one thing is to confirm that any unnatural sound coming from the engine compartment indicates that the engine has something wrong and under no circumstances, ignoring these sounds can be very dangerous for your engine.
Here are some Engine noise examples and with the help of engine experts it is defined what they mean and how they arise, lest see them one by one
Squeals and screeches
When you hear any kind of screeching or squealing noise coming from your engine, it signifies that your engine has a problem with its drive belts. It can be a drive belt or might be a fan or an auxiliary belt. There could be two situations, slippage of the belt from the pulleys or any breakage or crack corroding on the belt.
Worn or damaged pulleys can also cause these problems. In some cases, the water pump or the water body on the radiator could be to blame, because an extra water leakage or corrosion on the pulleys can produce squalling noise. These noises should be investigated by bringing your car to your garage.
A quick trip to your dealer or the garage is necessary. The mechanics will see the problem e.g. if the belt is loose, they will tight it to the required standard.
An engine knocking sound actually indicates many things and it is equally dangerous if the problem is serious. These sounds are also known as the piping sounds in the garages. These kinds of knocks and piping noises arise when the engine faces a bad fuel mix or carbon deposits build-up or even if a wrong spark plug has been inserted or fitted to the engine.
If your spark plugs are old or bad, the same sound can be faced, so the replacement of old plugs will solve the issue at large. Using the wrong grade fuel in the engines also leads to knocking and rattling sounds.
Clicking and ticking noises
Sometimes, a peculiar ticking or clicking noise comes from the engine and this might be due to the low oil level in the oil sump. The solution is very simple to this issue simply check the oil level and top up if necessary.
It is not a complicated task to do but if you are still not confident enough to do the task, ask someone to do it for you. Another area that can be investigated is the valve train. If you feel a ticking sound from the head area of the engine, it is a clear indication that your engine needs adjusted valve clearance between the rocker arms and camshaft.
Only an expert can do it for you. These sounds arise because of the excessive clearance between the valves heads, rocker arms, and camshaft.
Hearing a whining noise while driving the car and there’s a likely chance that your engine facing a problem in the power steering pump or the power steering oil level is low and needs a top-up.
The whining sounds can also come from the differential or transmission and if that is the case, it is because of excessive play in the gears which gets even louder when you accelerate. Whining sound tells you that your vehicle requires professional treatment and maintenance.
Rattling from underneath the car could indicate a loose exhaust bracket which is causing the noise. If the rattling noise comes under the bonnet then this is more serious than any other sound and it requires urgent attention.
There are many causes for these rattle noises e.g. air conditioner compressor clutch, idler pulley, or might be the belt tensioners. If your engine rattles while driving and the oil pressure light turns ON, just pull over as soon as possible and turn the engine off.
It indicates the engine is not getting enough lubrication which can fatally damage the engine. This situation can lead to an entire engine replacement.