The engine is a vital component of a car. While vehicles can function without air conditioning, windows, or even doors, they are useless without engines. This is why maintaining your automobile’s engine and its connecting components is crucial.
However, there may come a time when the engine will need fixing, or even worse, replacing. This can be due to poor maintenance, bad driving habits, an accident, or normal vehicle wear and tear. Fortunately, your car will signal that something is wrong either by turning on the “check engine” light, acting up, or making new, unnerving, noises. The worst case scenario would be that the vehicle would become totally undrivable, and not much more than scrap metal destined for the salvage yard.
Below you will find important warning signs that your engine is in trouble and it is time to bring it into the shop.
Engine Knocking Sound
One of the first things you might notice when your engine is acting up is a new sound, or several strange sounds coming for the hood of your car. Noises that are associated with engine issues include:
Different noises can signal different issues. Alternatively, one noise can signal multiple problems that need addressing. For example, a whirring sound, especially one that gets worse as you increase or decrease speed can indicate that:
- Your power steering fluid is low.
- You need to replace that alternator.
- The water pump is broken.
Furthermore, an engine that backfires and pops when you press the gas pedal is giving you a sign that it needs immediate attention. This sound can indicate that:
- A timing belt or chain has slipped.
- The spark plugs being used are wrong.
- The ignition timing needs to be adjusted.
Failing to address a backfiring engine can result in severe damage and even fire.
Evidently, it is essential to getting any new noises checked as soon as possible so that the issue doesn’t escalate.
White Smoke Billowing From Hood
Finding white smoke coming out from the hood of your car can be a scary sight if you have never seen it before. You might be worried that your car is about to catch on fire. Fortunately, your vehicle is unlikely to erupt into flames from white smoke. However, this is still not a good sign.
In most cases, white smoke is a result of an overheated engine. For whatever reason, you did not have enough coolant in the system to prevent this. In other cases, your coolant may have entered the combustion chamber and heated up. Alternatively, you may have a cracked engine block or a leaking head gasket.
A sweet smell associated with the smoke will indicate that the antifreeze is responsible for the smoke.
When this kind of smoke billows from your engine, your engine will need immediate attention from a mechanic. You cannot continue driving with an overheated engine. Your vehicle will likely need to be towed to the nearest auto shop.
Car Struggles To Respond To Gas
A car failing to accelerate when the gas pedal is activated is another sign that an engine is faulty.
There are numerous reasons for a car to respond poorly to acceleration that are due to engine problems. One explanation is a misaligned timing belt. This can greatly affect tension and other moving parts.
On the other hand, a slipping clutch or low clutch fluid level can cause acceleration issues due to the gearbox failing to engage with the engine properly.
Additionally, a faulty oxygen sensor will affect how information about fuel and air is communicated to the engine computer unit. Your car needs a specific ratio of fuel and air to properly engage the cylinders and gain acceleration. If there is too much fuel, acceleration will be slow even if the gas pedal is pressed.
Fortunately, acceleration issues related to the engine are easy to fix with the right mechanic before severe damage occurs.
When you are sitting at a stoplight or in traffic your engine may sound rough. The engine may rise and fall or have a hard time maintaining a steady rate of rotation. The car may also vibrate while you are simply idling.
This is not normal and needs to be evaluated as soon as possible. Rough idling is often an indicator that there are clogs in the system or the spark plugs need to be replaced.
You Smell Gas Or Oil In The Car
Your engine may have cracks or leaks if you smell gas or oil while driving or idling. These leaks can come from engine oil seals or sump plugs and washers.
You must get your engine examined as soon as possible because as oil depletes from your engine, more friction will be created and the vehicle can overheat. Moreover, leaking oil can be a serious fire hazard if it comes in contact with the exhaust system or rotating engine parts.
One serious issue that could be causing the smell of gas or oil is bad piston rings. This problem causes more fuel to run into the combustion chamber and then into the oil pan. This is a difficult issue to repair as the whole engine must be taken apart. Fortunately, it is not a common occurrence.
Your Engine Turns Off Unexpectedly
One of the most worrying signs that there is something wrong with your engine is it shutting down on the road without warning. Several mechanical issues can cause this to occur including numerous engine parts going bad.
A catalytic converter with too many impurities running through it will clog and overwork the engine. As a result, the engine itself will shut down.
Additionally, a failed alternator can cause a car to stop abruptly. This is because an alternator feeds power to the engine. Without this source of electricity, the engine will stop working.