Cars are becoming increasingly complicated. You may have heard stories of yesteryear when you could pull over and fix a car with a pair of stockings. This is no longer the case. While there are still things that can go wrong with the engine, in many cases the issue is electrical. This is because modern vehicles are full of electronics and sensors. The failure of one sensor can have a crippling effect on the car.
When you experience engine problems you’ll need to pull the car over straight away. The sooner you stop the less likely it is you’ll do extensive damage to your vehicle. Of course, there are no guarantees, a broken drive belt is likely to cause a lot of internal damage.
You’ll want to find out more about your local reputable garage that will diagnose the issue and service or repair the car for you. Of course, you may wonder why you need to know the most common care engine problems if you have a reputable mechanic you can call.
The simple truth is that it’s nice to know what is wrong. It means you may be able to fix your car in an emergency. Equally, it will help to ensure you’re not getting ripped off by your mechanic.
Here’s how to diagnose engine problems.
If you have a flat tire then you’ll be able to see it when you look at the car. The same is sometimes true of engine problems. You should open the bonnet but do so carefully, you don’t know what you may find. Once the bonnet is open take a look at the engine. The belts are usually on the left side of the engine, (looking at it from the front). Check they are all intact. Look for signs of water or oil, these can help you identify the issue. Don’t forget to check under your car, this is where the puddles will be.
However, you should note that many modern cars have under-trays that protect the engine from stones and other road debris. It’s effective but does make it harder to work on the car and spot any oil or water leaks.
It’s also important to note that leaks behind the engine, around the area of your front seats, are usually from the air conditioning system and are normal.
The next stage is to listen to any funny clunking or banging noises.
Clinks generally mean there is an issue with the suspension, not the engine. Squealing, or occasionally ticking noises, suggest an issue with one of the belts. But, high-pitched squealing often only happens when you press the brake pedal. It suggests there is an issue with the brake pads.
Banging noises, especially backfiring, tell you that the fuel and air mixture is not right. You may be looking at worn-out spark plugs; a bad fuel and air mix, ignition timing off, or even something as simple as a dirty air filter.
You should start by checking the air filter and then move onto the other possibilities.
Grinding noises are often a result of a worn transmission. As the box ages, the gears don’t mesh as well as they used to, causing a grinding noise. The first time you hear this check the oil level in your gearbox. If it needs topping up you could save an expensive repair bill for rebuilding the box.
A gurgling noise suggests that air is getting into your engine system. This can be a leak in the cooling system letting air in. Unfortunately, if this is left the car will lose coolant and run hotter. This increases the likelihood of the engine overheating and cooking the head gasket.
This is the gasket that separates the oil and water in the top and bottom parts of the engine. Without it, the fluids will mix and your engine will start running lumpy before packing up completely.
If you notice a strange smell in your car then you need to follow your nose and identify where it is coming from.
Burning smells can mean an electrical component is burning out, check your fuses and wiring. But, the burning smell can also be oil and other contaminants on the engine which are burning off as the engine reaches temperature.
Other odors include the smell of exhaust fumes which is usually thanks to a hole in the exhaust system allowing the fumes and the smell into your vehicle. A sweet smell is likely to be coolant and suggests you have a coolant leak. You’ll want to watch your temperature gauge closer until the issue is resolved.
The simple truth is that many things can go wrong with the engine on your car. In most cases, the fastest way to deal with the issue is to have your mechanic run a diagnostic test. If this doesn’t give them the answer they’re looking for they’ll be going through the same checks as you and the guide above. Of course, a qualified mechanic has extensive experience with an array of issues; helping to ensure they get the problem sorted and you back on the road.