5 Ways To Tell If Your Car’s Engine Is Failing

Service, Used Cars

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Car Engine

Car’s engine – unsurprisingly – is the most important part of your car, and total engine failure can often mean a catastrophic cost of repair, or can even force you to “total” the car, and buy a new one.

Because of this, most engines are extremely durable, and can easily last hundreds of thousands of kilometers. Engines are usually one of the last components that will fail on a car, so you don’t usually have to be concerned about critical engine failure.

Still, critical engine failure does happen – but there are ways that you can mitigate the damage caused by a failing engine. If you catch engine failure early, you’ll be in a much better position to prevent further damage, and may be able to repair your engine easily, avoiding a costly engine rebuild or a totalling of your vehicle.

Read on to learn about the 5 most common signs of engine failure – and what you can do to prevent your engine from breaking down.

Your “Check Engine” Light Is On

Despite what some people may tell you, this light doesn’t just come on for no reason. If your “check engine” light is on, you need to check your engine – or have it scoped out by a professional.

Now, your “check engine” light being lit doesn’t necessarily mean your car is in serious danger – it could be a problem as simple as a loose gas cap – but it should be taken into account when assessing the overall health of your car.

And if other lights such as low oil pressure, brake lights, and low oil level lights are on, you should be seriously concerned – and have your car looked at by a professional as soon as possible.

Jerking, Inconsistent Acceleration And Performance

A smoothly-running internal combustion engine delivers just that – smooth performance. You should be able to accelerate ably. Your car should not jerk around, surge forward, or stall when you apply the gas, and if it does, chances are that your engine is well on the way to failure.

Performance issues always signal a deeper problem, and in this case, that problem can be worn out spark plugs, clogged fuel lines, or even failing pistons. You should take your car in for a professional assessment if you are experiencing performance issues.

Poor performance also poses a driving risk – the last thing you want is for it to stall out on the left lane of the highway while running at 120KM/h. So don’t risk your life. If your car isn’t performing well, there’s a reason. If you ignore that reason, you risk a damaged engine and poor driving performance that could lead you into dangerous situations.

Hearing Noises That Shouldn’t Be There

A little bit of extraneous noise from your car is common, especially as it ages. But be on the lookout for noises that are out-of-place and sound dangerous. This can include loud clacking and popping noises, as well as grinding noises. Any unusual noise should be noted, and you should mention it to a mechanic.

Popping and clacking noises can indicate serious issues like premature detonation in your car’s engine block, which can destroy pistons and cause your engine to explode, in rare cases. Grinding noises when shifting gears could signal a damaged or worn-out transmission, and grinding noises upon startup could indicate a damaged starter motor.

So keep an ear out for strange noises. Though they could be as innocuous as a loose fan-belt, they could also signal that you’re on track for catastrophic engine failure. Mention these noises to your mechanic, so that they can check them out and ensure that your car is in good shape.

The Nose Knows – Identify Strange Smells

Cars often smell a bit funky – given the vast amount of complex fluids and emissions they produce – but you should be familiar with how your car smells in daily operation.

Smells like excessively hot oil, burning rubber, exhaust smells in or near the cabin, and so on are hints toward the health of your car.

These smells don’t happen without a reason. That reason could be a melting fuel hose, a damaged drive belt, or a complete failure of the exhaust system that’s causing a catastrophic engine meltdown.

If you start to smell strange scents, pay close attention to your dash and look for “check engine” lights. Check the heat level of your car, and make your way to a mechanic. Don’t risk continuing to drive a car that gives off strange scents – these are sure signs of component failure.

Watch For Smoke

Obviously, smoke coming up from the front of your car is never a good sign – but it’s probably too late for preventative action at this point. However, smoke can also emit from the tailpipe of your car, and if it’s strangely thick or discolored, this can be a hint towards the cause of your engine problems.

Blue smoke means that oil has escaped its environs in the engine crankcase and is mixing with fuel, being burned away. If you notice blue smoke emitting from your tailpipe, discontinue driving and tow your car to a repair shop immediately – or risk catastrophic engine damage.

White smoke means that either antifreeze or water condensation has gotten mixed up with your fuel supply, and that your coolant is being burned up, which can lead to engine failure. Adding coolant and antifreeze to your reservoir can mitigate this until you get to a shop, but you should get it checked out ASAP.

Need An Engine Assessment? Come To Ride Time Today!

Ride Time can provide you with comprehensive repair, maintenance, and assessment services. Our Winnipeg location is brand-new, and features 8 service bays staffed with top-notch mechanics.

We’d be happy to take a look at your car if you’ve experienced any of the above problems, and to provide you with next step repair solutions.

So don’t trust just anyone with your car the next time you start to suspect that it’s suffering from mechanical issues. Trust Ride Time to deliver great service, and provide you with a reasonable, cost-effective solution for all your vehicle repair needs.


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