Common Car Engine Problems, And What You Can Do About Them
In the world of car ownership, there are a few problems that it seems like every driver runs into. Whether you’ve been on the road just a few years or for decades, everybody needs to meet basic maintenance demands or your vehicle is bound to develop some problems – and when that happens, it might be time for some engine repair in Albany, NY. But if you’re unfamiliar with basic engine repair, the world of engine service can be intimidating and mysterious – but it doesn’t have to be.
It turns out, there are a few common issues that seem to affect engines most regularly – and that means any driver has the ability to diagnose and properly fix whatever engine issue that might come up with just a little know-how. By knowing the signs and symptoms of some of the most common engine afflictions, you can stroll into your local service center with that much more knowledge of what’s wrong and how to fix it – and that’s always valuable when dealing with auto service.
Here’s a look at some of the most common engine issues out there, and just what you can do to keep them from getting worse – so that way, you can keep on enjoying your beloved vehicle for miles and miles to comes.
You know that little gauge on your instrument panel opposite the gas level gauge? That’s your engine coolant temperature sensor, a valuable tool that lets you know just how hot (or cold) your engine is running at any given time. If your engine is overheating regularly, that could point to a leak in your coolant system, or simply that your coolant level is too low. Without enough clean coolant, your engine can build up heat with nowhere for it to dissipate, resulting in overheating.
Normally, the best way to keep your engine cool is to keep your coolant level at the right place. You can check your coolant level under the hood – usually just next to your engine – and generally your system will require a 50/50 mix of coolant fluid and water. In a pinch – say, a highway breakdown on a hot summer day – just water will work to keep your engine cool, but a matching amount of coolant should be added as soon as possible to keep your system in good shape.
If the addition of a little coolant still doesn’t keep your engine under control, it could be a sign that something more serious is going on – perhaps excess friction in your engine, possibly caused by poor quality or too little motor oil. This is something that your mechanic can test for and address based on what the problem might be.
Engine Won’t Start or Crank
If you’ve ever been there, you know that sinking feeling that comes from an engine refusing to turn over. Turning the keys over and over will only flood your engine, and that depressing winding sound means something is going on with your starting system. This will leave your vehicle immobile, and can put a serious wrench in your driving plans for the future – but luckily, it’s probably a problem that can be fixed.
In most cases, problems getting your engine to start are actually just one symptom of an issue with your car’s battery. Your starter needs power to turn over and start the alternator, but without a fully charged battery this may just not be possible. Maybe you’ve simply lost your charge from a light mistakenly left on, and all your car needs is a quick jump start to get going once again. If that doesn’t work, it could be a sign that your battery has outlived its lifespan and should be replaced as soon as possible. A fresh battery may be all you need to get back out there and start conquering miles once again.
Then again, perhaps you find your battery isn’t the problem, or that nothing’s been solved even with a new battery – and that can point to a deeper problem with your starting system. Have your mechanic check out your vehicle’s electrical system and see if there’s a short anywhere along the line – this could be the very thing keeping your engine from settling into that comfortable idle with just the turn of a key.
Maybe you’ve noticed that you’re having to fill up more and more frequently, but haven’t changed your regular commute – that could be a sign that your engine is using more gas than it should be to go the same distance. This can be a serious (and costly) problem if not addressed, and can be caused by a number of things – any and all of which a qualified mechanic can take care of in no time.
If your car has more than just a few thousand miles on the odometer and you’ve noticed that your gas mileage is decreasing, it could be a sign that your catalytic convertor has begun to fail. This important element of your engine converts harmful particulate emissions like carbon monoxide into relatively harmless compounds, and without it these harmful gasses can build up in your exhaust system and bring down engine performance, and can even drop your top speed during periods of high performance. The best thing to do here is to have your convertor checked by a mechanic, and possibly replaced if the system is faulty.
Your engine’s mileage can also be affected by other buildups in your exhaust system, possibly caused by dirty or unchanged air filters. A dirty filter can block clean air from coming in and dirty air from leaving, building up emissions and decreasing performance capabilities the longer it’s left unchecked. Check your filter often and see if it needs changing – often a quick and easy job that can be done in an afternoon.
So whether you’ve been struggling to power up those hills or have been seeing smoke coming from under the hood on those extra hot days, engine troubles can signal the coming end for your beloved vehicle. Whenever you notice things starting to go south, consider taking your vehicle in for some basic engine repair – the future of your vehicle’s time on the road could depend on it.