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Car Sputtering – What Are The Causes?

Car Sputtering

Have you ever started driving your car on your normal route and notice that it is not running like it normally does? You might first be thinking that your fuel engine is low. Once you check to see you have a full tank, then you are left confused. This problem could be coming from your car engine. Your engine could start sputtering, which could lead to further engine damage and expensive car repair costs.

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Causes Of Car Sputtering


You might be wondering to yourself what exactly is car sputtering? This is defined as a series of soft explosive sounds. So in car terms, this can occur when you start your car and your engine will start to make soft explosive sounds as it tries to start. There are many different reasons as to why this could happen. Listed below are a few of the most common symptoms to be aware of.


Dirty Fuel Injectors: Fuel injectors play the role of putting fuel into the combustion chambers. This fuel is mixed with air in the chambers and then ignited by the spark plugs. Imagine what happens if the fuel filter is dirty. You will have less fuel going into the chambers and more dirt particles. This is bad for the entire system and could plug up some of the parts. This will also cause your car to accelerate much slower than normal. The good news is this is an easy fix if you just clean your fuel injectors. 


Vacuum Leak: The engine system has multiple vacuums that are used to allow the engine to function properly. Unfortunately, over time these hoses develop leaks. If there is a leak in the hose, the engine will start to produce a sputtering sound. This occurs because the air-fuel mixture either gets too rich or too lean. 


Faulty Spark Plugs: The function of spark plugs is crucial. Spark plugs provide the necessary ignition for the air and fuel mixture. As you can imagine, once these plugs start to wear out they won’t be able to function. If these spark plugs stop functioning, you will have a lot of unburnt fuel and misfires. These misfires cause engines to sputter. If you notice this happening, you should have your spark plugs checked and have them replaced. 


Exhaust System Leaks: The engine only works by the ignition of fuel and air. If this mixture isn’t ignited, then the engine won’t work. Once the mixture is ignited, exhaust gases are produced and flow through the manifold. These gases eventually make it out to the atmosphere. To ensure these gases are not harmful, the catalytic converter is used. This is crucial in removing harmful compounds for these gases. Some harmful compounds include carbon monoxide and hydrogen monoxide. 


If the catalytic converter does its job properly, the gases are converted into less harmful gases. This is very important so harmful gases are not put into the environment. Now when there is a leak in the exhaust system, these gases will start escaping before the harmful compounds are removed. This is bad and will start to create a sputtering sound. This can lead to some serious problems such as the hot gases could start melting the car engine parts. This can be very expensive to fix. 


Dirty Airflow Sensor: As you can tell, the engine parts all work together in a special system. If one of these parts is not working, it throws off the entire system. The right amount of fuel and air need to be put into the combustion chamber. Many cars have a computer system that will monitor the correct amount of air and fuel.  It is important that the correct mixture of air and fuel is put into the combustion chambers. 


Now imagine that the sensors are filled with dirt particles. This means that the entire computer system can’t do its job because it is clogged with dirt. This affects the entire system because now the ratio of fuel and air is not correct. This is an easy fix as you just need to have the sensors cleaned. 


Bad Catalytic Converter: As mentioned above, the catalytic converter has a crucial role. This device removes harmful gases from the exhaust so bad gases are not put into the environment. If the catalytic converter does not work properly, these gases will exit the tailpipe with harmful components. 


If your catalytic converter is not working properly, you will be able to tell because your car will smell like rotten eggs. If you don’t have a catalytic converter, your car will eventually stop working. This part is critical to the function of your car. 


Worn Out Gaskets: The job of a gasket is to prevent exhaust gases and oil from getting into the combustion chambers. If oil starts to spill into the combustion chamber, you will notice your engine making a sputtering sound. Eventually, you will completely damage the exhaust if this isn’t fixed in a timely manner. If you notice any gasket leaks, they should be replaced immediately. If they aren’t you could damage your engine. 


Dirty Oxygen Sensors: The majority of cars have a computer system that will monitor engine components. This is very helpful because it will do its own calculations. This system has oxygen sensors that help the system track the regulation of fuel. If your oxygen sensors stop working properly, you will end up with too much or too little fuel in your combustion chambers.


This creates a problem because there is an exact amount of air and fuel that is allowed in the combustion chambers. These oxygen sensors stop working because dirt particles pile up in them and then cause them to stop working. Once this happens they are completely unreliable. It is always a good idea to replace these sensors periodically so this problem does not occur.  


How To Inspect Engine Sputtering


The majority of times when your engine is sputtering there is a deeper problem. You should get this issued check out immediately so no further issues occur. It is important to note that an engine running out of gas will sputter. You should look at your gas gage to see how much fuel you have. If your gas gage is full, then you know you have a deeper problem within your engine. 


You may think that a sputtering engine does not seem like a major issue. The problem is that engine sputtering is a symptom of a bigger problem within the engine. This problem will not fix itself so it is important that you take it seriously and determine where the root problem is coming from. If you let this issue go for too long, it will eventually lead to a more expensive repair. 


There are two common systems that you should check. They are the exhaust and the fuel system. The exhaust system collects exhaust gases. This system is used to remove the harmful elements of the gases so they don’t leak into the environment. The harmful substances include carbon monoxide and hydrogen monoxide. It is crucial that the exhaust system works because these gases are very harmful. 


The fuel system stores and supplies fuel to the car. This helps the engine work so the car can drive. You can see how important this system is. If this does not work properly, then your car will not run. If you hear your engine sputtering, you need to examine all of the possible causes so that you can fix it as soon as possible. It would be very expensive to replace your engine if you damage it. 


What To Expect After The Inspection


If you decide to take your car to a mechanic, they will inspect all of your systems to determine the root problem. They will check the exhaust gaskets, oxygen sensors, exhaust manifold, and airflow sensors. It is always a good idea to have a trained professional check these systems because they are more efficient and know exactly what to look for. Remember it is critical that you find the problem because you need to fix your car as soon as possible. Continuing to drive your car will only damage the engine worse. 


Once a mechanic finds the problem, they will be able to give you price estimates and a plan of action. They will tell you how long the repair will take. This will give you a timeline of how long you won’t have your car and allow you to financially plan. In a situation where your engine is affected, it is always smart to pay for a professional's opinion. You will end up saving money in the long run. 


How Can I Fix Engine Sputtering?


Now that you know what causes engine sputtering, you might be wondering how you can fix this problem. It can be difficult to find the root of the problem because there could be many different causes of this issue. Additionally, some of these issues are quick fixes like cleaning out the part while others need to be completely replaced. 


For example, the oxygen sensors need to be cleaned out. This will help them give correct readings to the computer system. Now a problem with the spark plugs is a different story. Once these are burnt out, they need to be completely replaced. You will know they are burnt by their color. They will be black and look worn out. Anything compartment that you can clean out on your own, you should do so. Even if the part isn’t directly affected, it is always good to clean out dirt particles from any engine part. 


Another part you will want to check is the ignition coil. You can do this by using the ohmmeter. This will allow you to know if it is passing the correct voltage. If your coil is worn out, it won’t be sending over the correct voltage. That will throw off the entire system. You can replace these with new ones and they will start to pass the right voltage. 


Next, you should check out the fuel injectors. These are crucial for supplying fuel to the combustion chamber. The best way to check these is by using a stethoscope. You will do this by turning on your engine and putting the device on the fuel injectors. If they are working properly, you will hear the valves open and close. Now if you don’t hear that, you know that they need to be replaced. This is a quick and easy test you can do to see if you have faulty fuel injectors. 


Once you have checked the fuel injectors, you should look at the vacuum hoses. These have a high possibility of developing leaks. This occurs because the engine gets so hot that these hoses will crack. If you notice these are leaking then you will need to just replace them. 


The last thing you will want to do is check the filters. Make sure you occasionally change your fuel and air filters. These definitely get clogged with dirt regularly. The only way to get rid of these dirt particles is to change the filters. 




If your car is sputtering, you know that there is a deeper issue. This problem could either be a simple cleaning fix or a more expensive repair cost. If your car is starting to age, you might be wondering if the repair is worth your money. 


Wouldn’t you like to be able to save money on car repairs and have less frequent maintenance problems? I believe everyone would choose to save money on repairing their car. Car repairs can add up very quickly if you need to fix multiple parts. 


Car problems occur and often they are out of our control. They also don’t seem to happen at convenient times. If you are deciding if you want to repair your car, remember you have other options. Our company will take your car off your hands and give you cash for it. We will use your car for its working parts and refurbish them. 


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