The 3 Most Common Engine Problems
Regardless of age, mileage, make, or model, occasional engine problems are an inevitable part of car ownership. While proper maintenance may help reduce the need for car repairs it is not a guarantee that a car will not break down. As a car accumulates miles the chances of engine problems increase; however, not all engine problems are serious. Many times the cause is something as simple as a dirty air filter or loose gas cap.
Engine Won’t Start
A no-start condition is one of the most frequently encountered engine problems. If there is a clicking noise but the engine does not crank it generally indicates a battery issue. An engine that cranks but will not start is indicative of a fuel or ignition problem.
Common reasons an engine won’t start:
Low or discharged battery
Corroded or loose battery cables
Starter motor relay failure
Ignition switch failure
Defective fuel pump
Clogged fuel filter
Service Engine Soon Light
The Service Engine Soon light is designed to illuminate whenever a fault is detected in any of the sensors attached to the emission, engine, or powertrain controls. The purpose of the service engine soon light is to alert the driver to a potentially serious fault that requires repair. Blue exhaust smoke along with the service engine soon light may indicate a fuel system fault caused by an engine oil leak. An ASE certified mechanic can retrieve the trouble codes from within the onboard electronic control module and determine the specific cause.
Frequent service engine soon light causes:
Loose or missing gas cap
Spark plugs or wires that are worn out or damaged
Electronic control module failure
Defective distributor or coil packs
Emissions control fault such as the oxygen sensor
Fuel quality issue
Overheating is most generally caused by a low coolant level. A quick check of the coolant overflow reservoir will indicate if coolant is leaking. Most cars are equipped with temperature gauges or warning lights that will alert the driver to an overheating issue. Frequent overheating can cause serious and expensive engine damage. Proper maintenance of the cooling system is vital in order to maintain the quality of the coolant and to make certain the cooling system is in good operating condition. Additionally, a cracked head or blown head gasket can also cause overheating, coolant loss and white exhaust smoke, which may indicate the need for engine repair.
Common reasons for overheating:
Dirty or low coolant level
Non-functioning cooling fan
Kinked or broken radiator hose
Internal or external coolant leak
Defective radiator cap
Dirty air filter
Following the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule is very important. Services such as oil changes, oil and fuel filter replacement, and tune-ups are necessary in order to keep a car performing at peak condition. Maintenance items, such as the air filter, are often times overlooked but can have a significant effect on a car’s drivability and performance. Regardless of a car’s age, proper maintenance will help prevent potential engine problems and break downs.