Most Common Engine Problems – Everything You Need to Know

An engine is, undoubtedly, the most important part of the vehicle. And as you may imagine, it is very important to make sure that the engine is in good condition. There are some common engine problems that can cause severe damage if you do not take action immediately. So, the bottom line is that you have to take care of the engine in your car, as that will help it last longer. To help you learn more about your engine, we will talk about some of the most common engine failures and problems.

How does the engine work?

Many people do not understand how the engine works, as this is definitely a complex machine. Although the engine is not the simplest machine that humankind ever created, you still need to have a basic idea about how it works. So, we will make it simple and easy for you. Basically, the engine converts the gas into energy that moves the car. In the future, the energy source can be different, but there will always be an engine and its job will remain the same. Without the engine, your car will be useless. That’s just the way it is.

Common Engine Problems and How to fix them

Now we will go over some common engine problems that most car owners face. and a short brief on how to fix it :

The Engine Won’t StartEngine not start

This is one of the most common problems and most car owners have been in this situation more than once. If it is a battery-related problem, your engine will not crank. Instead, it could make a clicking sound. However, with a fuel or ignition related problem, your car will crank, but it won’t start.

Here are some main reasons why an engine won’t start: discharged battery, broken ignition switch, faulty fuel pump, blocked fuel filter, or corroded battery cables.

Worn spark plugs

worn spark plugsAlthough being small, a spark plug is important. This is the part that makes the car move forward. Its duty is to ignite the compressed gas within the engine.

A dirty or worn out spark plug will create a weak spark or no spark at all. This can cause an engine misfire, stalling, hard starting, or Engine Start but won’t Stay Running. As none of these things are good for your engine, make sure that spark plugs in your car are in good condition. So you may  Learn How to Tell if a Spark Plug is Bad

Clogged radiator

clogged radiatorDirty coolant is an issue that can create some annoying problems. The radiator filled with sediment from the dirty coolant will lead to poor engine cooling. As a result, the engine will be too hot, and that is not a good sign. Avoid using tap water, as this can cause corrosion within the radiator.

Engine coolant loss

This is probably the most common reason for engine overheating, as it will cause a low coolant level. You have to prevent it, as that is the best treatment. So, what can you do to solve this issue? It is simple and easy. You should check the radiator, hoses, and other cooling system components. None of these parts should leak. In addition, make sure that your coolant is clean, and replace it if needed. Have in mind that overheating may lead to permanent engine damage.

Engine overheating

Overheating is a problem that many car owners have come across. A low coolant level, clogged hoses, a burnt-out radiator, a blown head gasket loose or broken plugs, broken engine thermostat may cause overheating problems. Be careful about overheating, as it can do some serious damage to your engine.

Bad engine noise

The unusual sound coming from the engine bay may show that there is something wrong with your car. Therefore it is important to pay attention to it at once. Whatever the case, you will probably have to take the vehicle to a professional mechanic who can help you with your problem. Once he tracks down the source of the sound, he will know what to do and you won’t have to worry about a thing.

Timing chain failure

The timing chain is an important part of the engine and it can also cause problems if it does not work properly. For your engine to work, the timing chain has to rotate smoothly around the gears. If there is a problem with the timing chain, there will be some clear signs. First, the engine will produce a rattling sound while running, and it will misfire or run poorly. There will be a lack of power and hesitation, as well. Lastly, there will be metal shavings in the engine oil. If you see these symptoms, take the necessary steps at once.

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Faulty sensors

A faulty sensor can cause severe engine problems. The engine in your car has various sensors, all performing different tasks. One of the most important sensors in your car is an oxygen sensor. It measures the amount of unburnt oxygen in the exhaust gases. The car computer uses this data to adjust the air-fuel mixture. If there is an issue with this sensor, your car will receive incorrect information. This may cause lower gas mileage or reduced engine power.

Car not accelerating properly

If your car is not speeding up the way it used to, perhaps something is wrong with the engine. Before you seek professional help, there are several things in your car that you can yourself.

Check whether there is a problem with the timing belt or the fuel filter. See if there is a dirt buildup on the MAF sensor. Don’t forget to check the oxygen sensor. An issue with any of these components can cause sluggish acceleration.

Smoke from the engine

common car problems by modelBlue or white smoke coming out of an exhaust pipe is always bad news. If you see smoke coming out of your car, go to an auto repair shop immediately to fix it. Now, what can cause the smoke from the car exhaust? Well, there are various reasons why it happens. First, high oil consumption will cause blue smoke. Worn valve guide seals, damaged piston rings, or poor crankcase ventilation can cause this. White smoke means the engine is burning coolant. In most cases, a broken head gasket will cause this. If you notice unusual smoke from the exhaust, track down the source of the problem as soon as possible.

Engine mounting problems

What is an Engine mount? It is the part of the car that holds the engine in place. As you can guess, it is an important part of the car. If not taken care of, a faulty engine mount can cause problems with the engine. The primary issue with the mount is when the rubber part separates or when the oil comes out of the liquid-filled mount.

The most common symptom of a failed engine mount is a noticeable jolt or thump when you are accelerating or decelerating. In some cases, it can even cause unusual engine noises.

Engine head gasket failure

Head gasket failure is a major engine problem. Replacing failed head gasket failure can be costly and take a lot of time. Furthermore, it can be hard to pinpoint the exact cause of this failure. Most of the time, it is the faulty cooling system that causes head gasket failures. The best solution is to look for professional help. You should go to an auto repair shop to fix it.

High engine oil consumption

Excessive engine oil consumption is never a good thing. It is a problem that you should take seriously. So why does it happen?

Oil consumption mainly depends on piston rings and valve guide seals. Now, damaged piston rings or leaking valve guide seals will cause high oil consumption. This happens because the engine sucks the oil into the cylinders. As a result, your engine will consume a lot of oil.

Lubrication issues

Your vehicle needs oil, as it reduces friction between moving parts. Apart from that, the oil also removes heat. A regular oil change helps your car to function properly. Without proper lubrication, your engine may overheat.  That is something you will definitely want to avoid.

Engine knocking

At some point, the engine in your car may produce a loud knocking sound. This is engine knock, also known as “detonation”, “spark knock” or pinging. So what is this engine knocking? The problem will occur if fuel does not burn evenly in the cylinders. As a result, there will be an annoying noise that will come from your engine.

But why does it happen? One of the common reasons is using fuel that is low in quality or octane value. It can also happen if you have the wrong spark plugs in your engine.

Dirty intake manifold

An intake manifold does an important job for your car. The main job of the intake manifold is to disperse the air and fuel mixture to each cylinder. The intake manifold acts as a chamber, in which the air and fuel mix. So you can guess why the intake manifold is so vital for your car. You can also imagine that a dirty intake manifold will not help the efficiency of your engine.

Carbon and dirt buildup inside the intake manifold will have a negative impact on engine efficiency. When this happens, it will burn more fuel than necessary. That’s why it is essential to clean it if needed.


The engine in your car may stop suddenly, either while driving or coming to a stop. This is an engine-related problem and you should take seriously it. If your car stops in the middle of a road with no warning, it can be a major safety issue. As a matter of fact, it can even cause accidents if the street is busy.

Various issues can cause this nuisance. Your engine might have a problem within fuel lines, a vacuum leak or a faulty sensor. In addition, bad spark plugs may also cause this. To be on the safe side, you should talk to a professional mechanic.

Piston and piston ring Problems

Common Engine ProblemsThe piston and piston rings are one of the key engine components. Pistons produce the power needed to move the car, so you can understand why they are important.  With damaged pistons or piston rings, the engine in your car will develop less power.

There are several symptoms that will let you know there is something wrong with the piston and piston rings. They range from blue smoke in the exhaust, engine misfire to loud rattling sounds. In addition, the oil filler cap and dipstick might pop off because of excessive crankcase pressure. Finally, a car with a damaged piston will have less power.

Oil Pump Problems

An oil pump provides enough oil for all engine parts. If it fails, it will cause oil starvation, which will lead to serious engine damage. Rod bearings and camshafts are the most vulnerable parts in that case. A red ‘oil can’ warning light will pop up on your dashboard if there is a problem with the oil pump. If that happens, turn off the engine without a delay.

Water in the engine oil

If the color of motor oil has become white, you must not ignore it. This is a clear symptom of mixing water with oil. Here are some possible causes:

  • Cracked engine head
  • Faulty oil cooler
  • Cracked engine block

You must track down the cause of this problem.  If you cannot do that, you must talk to experienced mechanics and resolve the issue.

Dirty engine oil

Sometimes, motor oil becomes very dirty or diluted. This is not good for your engine. If that’s the case, then you should find out the reasons and fix the issue. If you don’t fix it, then the life of your engine will be shortened.  Here are some reasons why it can happen.

  • Poor fuel quality
  • Leaking fuel injectors
  • Clogged or damaged air filter
  • Damaged engine oil filter

So you must confirm which one is the problem and you must fix it immediately.

How to Diagnose and Treat Common Small Engine Problems On YouTube Video:

Final Verdict

So these are some of the most common engine problems that you need to worry about. As we know, your engine is the most crucial part of your car and you have to take care of it. For that, you need to know about some issues your engine may face and take proper steps according to those issues. That is why you must learn more about these problems. Sometimes, you may solve some of these issues on your own. However, in some cases, you might need help from a professional.


Hi There, I am R. Hasan Tito, a mechanic, and owner of this website. My friend and I created this website to share our knowledge, expertise, and experience with our fellow mechanics' community and car users. I am a specialist and certified automotive mechanics (Both Heavy Commercial and Private Cars). I have been working as a mechanic for over fifteen years. I worked for a long time at Global Rebound Automotive companies (Toyota, TATA, BMW, Nissan, TVs, and Others ) as a Mechanic and Mechanics Supervisor.

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