10 Common Car Engine Problems and Their Causes

A typical combustion engine has about 200 moving parts while an electric one comes with about 20 parts less. Each of these parts is essential to the proper functioning of the engine. As the parts age, wear, and tear can take a toll on your vehicle’s performance. Sometimes you’ll need to maintain or replace certain parts of your engine to keep it running smoothly. Here are 10 common car engine problems and their causes:

1. Misfiring

We say an engine is misfiring when it doesn’t fire the correct amount of fuel and air mixture into the combustion chamber. This can be caused by a variety of things, such as worn spark plugs, faulty fuel injectors, or a loose distributor cap. If it’s an issue with spark plugs or injectors, they can usually be replaced. Manufacturers recommend replacing spark plugs every 30,000 miles to 100,000 miles. If it’s a more serious issue, such as an engine vacuum leak or worn valve seals, you’ll need to take your car in for repairs.

2. Dirty Engine Coolant

Over time, engine coolant can become contaminated with dirt and debris, leading to overheating. To avoid this issue, it’s important to regularly check your engine coolant level and replace the fluid every few years. If your car has been running hot, it’s a good idea to get it checked out by a mechanic as soon as possible.

3. Leaking Parts of The Cooling System

If you notice a leak from your engine or another part of the cooling system, it’s important to get it checked out right away. Coolant leaks can cause damage to the engine and should be repaired as soon as possible. You may need to replace the parts that are causing the leak. So prepare to do so if the mechanic asks.

4. Warn Combustion Plugs

If your engine is experiencing issues with ignition, it may be because of worn spark plugs. Worn spark plugs can cause misfiring and reduced engine performance. This is due to a build-up of carbon deposits on the electrodes that reduce the spark’s ability to ignite the air/fuel mixture. Changing out old spark plugs for new ones is the best way to fix this problem.

5. Overheating

Engines are designed to operate at certain temperatures, so if your engine is running too hot, it will cause it to knock. This is commonly known as a “spark knock”, you’ll hear sounds like metal knocking against each other or pinging. When you hear this sound, it means your engine is running too hot and you need to get it serviced. Overheating can be caused by a lack of coolant, a faulty thermostat or radiator, or worn-out gaskets. Make sure you’re checking your coolant levels regularly and bringing your car in for regular service to prevent this type of problem.

6. Oxygen Sensor Issues

The oxygen sensor is responsible for monitoring the oxygen levels in your exhaust. If it’s not working properly, your car won’t be able to burn fuel efficiently. This can cause check engine lights to turn on and could lead to failing an emissions test. Common signs of an oxygen sensor failure are poor acceleration, high fuel consumption, and difficulty starting up. Regular maintenance and replacing the oxygen sensor every 80,000 miles to 100,000 or when necessary can help to avoid these problems.

7. Oil Starvation

Oil starvation occurs when the oil pump isn’t able to supply enough oil to the engine or motor oil. This can lead to serious engine damage, so it’s important to ensure that your vehicle is receiving regular maintenance and its oil level is checked regularly. Common signs of a potential oil starvation issue are smoke from the exhaust, loud tapping or knocking noises, and a check engine light.

8. Oil Sludge

When the oil in a car’s engine becomes contaminated with dirt, debris, and other particles it forms an oil sludge that can cause problems for the vehicle. A common sign of this issue is smoke coming from the exhaust when the engine is running. The best way to avoid oil sludge is to make sure that the car is receiving regular maintenance, and that the oil filter is being changed out as needed.

9. Lean or Rich Air Fuel Mixture

When the fuel and air ratio is too lean or too rich, it can lead to engine problems. The air-fuel mixture should be balanced for your car’s engine to run properly. Symptoms of this issue include a decrease in performance, misfires, and jerking motions when accelerating. To avoid this problem, ensure that all of the sensors and components related to the air-fuel mixture are in good working order.

10. No Engine Lubrication

When oil starvation occurs, it prevents the engine from being adequately lubricated. This can cause serious damage to engine components such as bearings and valves. Keep an eye on your oil level, and ensure that you are using a sufficiently thick and suitable grade of motor oil for your car. Regularly scheduled oil changes will help to prevent this problem from occurring.

Service Your Car With Lakeland Ford

Ultimately, the best way to avoid engine problems is by regularly servicing your car and having it checked out at a trusted repair shop when you notice any issues. At Lakeland Ford, our certified technicians are experienced in diagnosing and repairing all kinds of car engine problems. Contact us today to book an appointment!


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