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SIGNS OF A BAD ENGINE Everything You Need To Know


There are different types of problems your car can face. Some problems are just uncomfortable, while others can prevent the vehicle from moving. For instance, it might not be very comfortable to drive a car with broken A/C on hot days. However, it is impossible to drive a car with a broken engine.

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Luckily, there are clear signs of a bad engine that can help you save your engine before it completely fails. 

In this article, we will provide you with the most common signs of a bad engine.

Signs of a bad engine


Like other car parts, over time of use, your engine will require some level of maintenance that ranges from minor to probably major. To avoid getting into major engine problems, it is important for you as a car owner to educate yourself about signs that can tell you there is a problem with your car’s engine.

Here are the most common signs of a bad engine:


  • Does the engine shake?



If you noticed that your engine shakes after you run your car, this could indicate a problem with your car’s different engine components. 

If you are lucky and the issue is minor, it could be that just the spark plugs worn out. If this is the case, then you only need to get new spark plugs and replace the old ones. 

A more expensive issue could be issued with the engine hoses. For instance, overtime of use, the hoses might wear out and have some cracks in them. If this is the problem, then all that you need to do is to replace cracked hoses and tighten the loosen ones. 

Other more complicated issues that cause the engine to shake are issues related to the fuel intake, motor mounts, and timing belt. These major issues might require a professional mechanic to replace or repair them unless you are having the required mechanical skillset and are very comfortable performing such repair.


  • Is there any weird smoke coming out from your engine?



As a rule of thumb, any smoke coming from your car’s engine is a clear indication of serious engine problems that could result in complete engine failure. There many causes for the smoke to come out of your engine like issues with the head gasket, problems with the cylinder head, etc. 

The smoke’s color can provide you some information about the root problem in your car’s engine. For instance, if the smoke is blue, this is an indication of oil leaking to the combustion system due to cracks in the piston rings or any other areas around the cylinders. On the other hand, black smoke doesn’t indicate what the root source of the problem is. In other words, black smoke comes from any internal engine problem. 

Some of the major causes for the smoke to come out of the engine could be a clogged air filter, problems with the emission system, or issues with the ignition timing. Whatever the cause of the problem, you must take your car to a professional mechanic. It is never recommended to fix these problems on your own because they require a high level of mechanical experience to be done. Otherwise, you might cause major issues to the car’s engine if you did it wrong.


  • Does your engine overheat more often?



In general, your engine shouldn’t take a long time to cool down or be at the normal operating temperature, unless the weather is very hot. 

If your engine doesn’t cool down and there are some signs of overheating, you must take action and check a couple of things.

The first thing you need to check is the engine coolant. There could be a leak somewhere resulting in reducing the coolant level in the engine, and thus, making it hard for the engine to cool down. If this was the issue, you can take care of the cause of the leak and refill the coolant till the optimum level.

If you confirmed that the coolant doesn’t leak and it is at the optimum level, the second thing you need to check is the water pump. If you determined that the water pump is broken or doesn’t work properly, you need to replace it. In worse scenarios, you might need to replace the whole radiator part. 

Keep in mind that replacing the water pump or the radiator is very expensive. Therefore, make sure to check the coolant first as it could be the main issue. If you confirmed that you need to replace the radiator or the water pump, it is recommended that you buy the parts separately to save on repair costs. 


  • Is your engine louder than normal?



A loud engine does not necessarily mean a direct problem with your engine. It is usually a problem with the catalytic converter, the muffler, broken gaskets, or worn seals that make the engine louder than usual.

Over time of use, the components we just mention might need replacement as they wear or tear. To detect the real cause of the problem, you must take your car to a professional mechanic who can perform specific diagnoses and tell you where the actual damage is. The idea here is that when your engine gets super loud, don’t get surprised if the mechanic told you it is not the engine; it is a different part that needs replacement. 


  • Do you see any oil under your car?



As a rule of thumb, if you see any type of fluid puddle under your car, this is a very bad sign of a fluid leak, and you must do the proper action. In some cases, you might not be able to move your car if the leak is very bad.

A fluid leak requires an expert mechanic to diagnose your car immediately; this doesn’t mean that you cant perform a quick troubleshoot to identify the cause of the problem possibly. For example, here is a list of tips about best practices when you see an oil leak under your car:

  • It is important to note that some oil leaks can start a fire. Therefore, you must keep a fire extinguisher in your vehicle for similar situations. 


  • The fluid color can tell you if it is your engine’s oil or something else. For instance, if the fluid is red, it is the transmission’s fluid. If the fluid is black or brown, it is the engine’s oil. 


  • Smelling the oil can help you where the leak is coming from. For example, if the oil smells like a burn, the leak is coming from the engine block.


  • Do a manual check for sources of engine’s leak. This task can be a bit tricky because every vehicle has a different structure, and there is no solid answer for where to find the different engine components that might leak some oil. Therefore, we recommend that you do your research and locate the valve cover gasket, the timing cover seal, the oil pan drain plug, and the oil pain seals. Once you locate them, do a visual inspection to identify any possible locations of the oil leak.


  • Check and tighten any loose connections. You might be surprised to find that a small bolt is causing all the problems with your engine. Therefore, consider checking any possible loose connection. Check the caps, covers, bolts, valves, and anything.


  • You must take your car to a professional mechanic. A lot of people like to try simple DIYs to fix their vehicles. It is known that most DIYs don’t work the first time you try them. That’s why it is not recommended that you try any DIYs when it comes to engine problems. This is because there is no room for mistakes, as some mistakes can lead to severe engine problems that can not be fixed. 



  • Is your check engine light illuminating?



The check engine light is the way your car’s computer communicates with you and tells you there is an internal issue with your vehicle. While a lot of times, the check engine light illuminating indicates a minor issue; in some cases, it indicates major vehicle-killing problems. Therefore, if you see the check engine illuminating, never ignore the problem and take your vehicle to the mechanic immediately.

The illuminating check engine light does not always mean a problem with the car’s engine; it can indicate issues with the transmission, steering wheel, turbo, and any other internal system in the vehicle. That’s why you need to perform additional steps to confirm that the problem is coming from your car’s engine. 

The first thing you need to do is to read and translate the check engine’s light error. This is done by using a code reader tool. You or your mechanic can connect the code reader into the car. Once it is connected, it will show what the error code is, what does it mean, how much does it cost to repair it, and what are the required pieces to replace. 

For example, here is a list of codes errors that are related to the car’s engine:

  • P0302: This error indicates a misfire with the second cylinder.
  • P0301: This error indicates a misfire with the first cylinder
  • P0A0F: this error indicates that the engine failed to start
  • OBD II Fault: this error means that there is a problem with the engine oil level sensor circuit
  • P0008: This code indicates issues with the engine position system performance
  • P011A: this code indicates an issue with the engine coolant temperature
  • P0298: This code indicates an issue with the engine’s oil overheating
  • P0524: This code indicates that the engine’s oil pressure is too low


  • How is your car’s power?



If you noticed that your car doesn’t have the normal power or no power at all, this is a clear indication of major internal problems. While this problem can be related to your vehicle’s engine, it can also be related to your transmission or other components. Therefore, to get the most accurate answer, you must take your car to an experienced mechanic and inform him about the power issue. 


  • Does your car consume more fuel than normal?



If you start feeling that you take more trips to the gas station than normal, this is an indication of an internal vehicle problem.

The problem could be related to the fuel system, the engine stroke, or it could also be related to the transmission. Again, to get the best answer, you need to take your to an experienced mechanic and perform an engine test.


  • Is your engine running rough?



When your car is running or idling, if you felt that it is more rough than usual, this is an indication of internal clogging in the system or issues with the spark plug. Fixing this problem can be as easy as doing a quick tune-up, or it could also be related to a low battery, issues with the gasoline, and others. 

A rough-running engine does not always mean a simple problem, and it could also indicate major internal issues with your car. Thus, you must take it to the mechanic and get it fixed. 



Problems with the car’s engine are considered very critical, and ignoring them can cause severe damages. Therefore, it is recommended that any car owner must keep an eye for signs of a bad engine to avoid higher repair costs. 

There are a lot of signs indicating problems with the car’s engine like engine shaking, overheating, smoking, or loud engine. Furthermore, an oil leak, rough engine, and illuminating check engine light can be related to problems with the car’s engine. 

It is recommended that you never ignore signs of a bad engine. This is because detecting the problem early can save you a lot of time, effort, and money. On the other hand, ignoring the problem can cause more complications that might lead to complete engine failure. 

While many people like to do their DIYs, when it comes to the engine’s problems, it is not recommended to do any trial and error. This is because most DIYs fail for the first time, and any mistakes in engine repair might lead to complicated issues causing complete engine failure. 

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