13 Common Engine Problems: All That You Need To know

Every car owner may experience one of the most common engine problems that this article unveils at one point or the other such as start failure or overheating. Therefore, if your car becomes a victim of any engine problems discussed below, sufficient information has been provided to help you understand them.

Have you been stranded because your car keeps stalling as you drive and eventually goes off, then the engine refuses to start?

One of the most challenging problems you can ever encounter as a car owner is an engine problem. This is because you may be able to manage the problems that emanate from other components of your car and still drive it around, but it is not so with most engine problems.

The core problems that most likely affect many vehicles are not farfetched from the ones outlined and discussed below. Take a moment as you go through some of these common engine problems in cars.

worst engine problems

Most Common Engine Problems

As you drive your vehicle from time to time, there is a tendency for you to experience one or more of these challenges with your car’s engine. It may be due to overuse or unforeseen circumstances.

However, do not panic when you encounter any of the following challenges with your car’s engine. Study the problem and take appropriate measures to restore the situation.

1. Failure for the engine to start

The failure of a car engine to start is one of the most serious engine problems a car owner may ever experience. This problem is usually traceable to corroded battery cables, blocked fuel filters, failure of starter motor relay, faulty fuel pump, discharged or dead battery, and ignition switch breakdown.

If you experience a situation where your car refuses to start in the morning while you are set to drive out to work, your business place, or anywhere, it is most likely one of the issues listed above has occurred. Therefore, contact an auto mechanic to help you fix the problem instead of worrying about it.

2. Overheating

Overheating is a problem with a car’s cooling system that makes a car’s engine temperature increase in an abnormal way without the enablement to discharge the heat out of the engine compartment. It is one of the most common problems with car engines, especially during the hot summer season. However, it also happens in winter sometimes.

Overheating is a problem caused by one or more of the following; low engine coolant level, leaking coolant system, broken engine thermometer, broken or loosed plugs, clogged hoses, clogged radiator, and cracked or blown head gasket.

It may not be exactly correct that overheating can directly lead to a fire outbreak in your car; however, it can result in a chain reaction involving internal liquid boiling, which may further cause an overflow of fluids to different hot parts of the vehicle.

If the situation is not subjected to proper and careful control, it may give off a spark that could likely result in a fire outbreak. Therefore, you must ensure that you prevent your vehicle from overheating at all costs.

3. Lack of coolant

The cooling system problem is yet another engine problem a car owner may experience. It is recommended that you flush your car engine’s coolant after every 3 years or 30,000 miles. A low coolant level usually heralds an overheating problem. Therefore, you should stick to the recommendation for flushing your vehicle’s engine coolant.

The flushing would only cost a few hundred dollars; you are good to go between $100 and $200. If you decide to manage driving around without a proper engine coolant, you may be waiting for a day to experience permanent engine damage. “Prevention is better than cure.”

4. Blocked engine radiator

Blocked engine radiators can also aid overheating, as they are closely related to engine problems. Blockage of engine radiator is usually due to old radiator fluid or a cooling system that has not been flushed over a long time.

A clogged radiator can lead to leakages, poor internal heating, water pump malfunction, overheating effects, damaged head gasket, etc.

To unblock the engine radiator, check the radiator and drain out the old coolant; then, flush out the particles by forcing water through the radiator. After that, refill the radiator using fresh coolant fluid with antifreeze.

5. Smoke or steam

A steaming or smoking engine can be very disheartening to experience while you are driving. That sudden outbreak of smoke from your engine compartment covering your view is usually traceable to a bad cylinder or cylinder head, worn gaskets, bad crankcase, the use of wrong oil grade, and damaged rings.

If you experience this kind of situation, it is not advisable to manage to drive the car home or wherever you are going and continue to manage the problem. Kindly drive straight to an auto mechanic and have your car’s engine checked.

6. Failing oil pump

Oil pump failure can lead to the inability of the oil to pump through its system. This situation can further lead to a shortage of oil supply to the necessary components of a vehicle’s engine, thereby resulting in poor lubrication.

Poor lubrication will increase the temperature with the engine’s operation and low oil pressure, damaging a vehicle’s engine.

Some easily noticeable symptoms of a failing oil pump are; oil pump noise, valve-train noise, hydraulic lifters noise, etc.

7. Oil issue

Lack of regular car engine oil change is one of the common causes of car engine failure. Your car’s manufacturer’s manual captures the recommended interval for you to change the engine oil, and it is expected of you to stick to the recommendation if you want your car to last long enough.

Neglecting the recommendation to change the oil or not using the right kind of oil, based on the manufacturer’s specification, can also cause your car’s engine a problem.

You need to use the right oil for your car if you must keep it running efficiently. It would be best if you consider using synthetic oil to maintain your car engine’s efficiency. Synthetic oil costs a little more than regular oil; however, the price is worth it.

8. Stalling

Suppose you ever experience a situation whereby your car suddenly stops as you drive, and the problem occurs again when you try to restart and continue your journey. In that case, it could be that your car has an engine problem.

You must ensure to avoid your car stalling on the road as you drive. If you drive on a busy road, this problem can lead to further problems such as a fatal accident, because it is hard for any driver to think that the car ahead of them would stall suddenly.

The hesitation or unexpected stalling of your car while you drive could result from problems with your car’s fuel filter, fuel line, or spark plugs. If you are not sure why your vehicle is stalling, endeavor to consult a professional auto mechanic.

9. Water in the engine

Although your car was designed with a roof and coverage that allows you to drive under the sun and while it’s raining, driving under heavy rainstorms or through high water logs has the capability of damaging your car’s engine.

If water consistently enters your car’s engine and stays, it could bend the piston rods and leave your car’s engine in bad condition. Most of your vehicle’s components react adversely to water inflow; hence, you must make sure you protect those components.

When water enters your car’s combustion chamber through the intake manifold, it’s a real problem. So, you must ensure to guard your car’s engine from water inflow that can cause major damage.

10. Aged spark plugs

Usually, aged spark plugs are responsible when a car starts but won’t stay running. Faulty spark plugs in a car’s engine due to aging can make a car exhibit starting problems. There is a level of spark required for your car’s engine to start; aged spark plugs may not be able to supply sufficient sparks to engender your car’s engine start.

Aged spark plugs can result in incomplete combustion, which further damages the catalytic converter of a car.

If you face engine start trouble, consult an auto mechanic who knows how to tell if a spark plug is bad to help you diagnose the issue. It would be best for you to entirely change your vehicle’s aged spark plugs to keep it running efficiently.

11. Engine and transmission mount problem

An engine mount holds a car’s engine, and usually, the transmission and engine are held together with three to four bolts. The mount that holds the engine is referred to as the engine mount, and the one that holds the transmission, the transmission mount.

The engine mounts are made using rubbers to avoid direct metal-to-metal contact between the car’s body and the engine. When the rubber part breaks or the liquid leaks out of the liquid-filled mount, it results in an engine transmission mount problem.

Engine transmission mount problem is characterized by chassis flex, excessive vibrations, difficulty in cornering, banging, clunking and bashing sounds, etc.

12. Noises

Almost every component of your car has been designed to project one or more signal that easily shows you there is an imminent problem if proper attention is not given to that signal. Vibrations, clicking, or knocking sounds are common engine problems symptoms.

The unexpected sound is either a result of a worn-out timing belt, weak starter, etc. No matter what the sound is, as long as it comes from your car’s engine, you should check it out quickly.

Usually, if you do not check out the sound, you may find out the exact problem the sound was trying to project after a few days, then it could have caused severe damages.

13. Engine knocking

If you hear any strange loud knocking sound from your car’s engine while driving, or sometimes while your car’s engine is idling and not running, it is simply a knocking problem.

One major cause of engine knocking is a bad air/fuel mixture. An oxygen sensor helps to maintain proper air and fuel levels in a vehicle’s running engine. Any fault with this component can lead to a bad air/fuel mixture which can further produce a “knocking” sound in the engine.

Trying to manage a car with an engine knocking problem can further cause other components to wear out, leading to more damage.

Having seen some of the common problems that a car’s engine may encounter, the following frequently asked questions provide insight into other areas.


Q: What are internal engine problems?

Internal engine problems are the common problems a car’s engine is likely to face in the course of a vehicle’s usage or improper actions capable of affecting the vehicle’s engine.

Some of these internal engine problems are; overheating, failing oil pump, water in the engine, lack of lubrication, lack of engine coolant, etc.

Q: What is the most common cause of engine failure?

Detonation is the most common cause of engine failure. It results from abnormal combustion within a vehicle’s engine that produces excessive pressure and heat within the combustion chamber.

It would be best to comply with your car’s regular maintenance as recommended by your car’s manufacturer or a professional auto mechanic.

Q: What does a dying engine sound like?

The most obvious sound of a dying engine is a knocking noise. A knocking sound could be caused by engine bearing failure, damaged piston, or any other damaged components within the engine compartment.

A knocking sound can as well be caused by a bad air/fuel mixture, mostly associated with a bad oxygen sensor.

Q: How do you know if you need a new engine?

The following are signs that your car needs a new engine; excessive smoke from the exhaust, knocking sounds, engine stalling, decreased gas mileage, frequent overheating, loss of power, etc.

Suppose your car starts experiencing two or more of the problems listed above or starts exhibiting problems that you cannot exactly pinpoint due to a combination of the problems discussed above. In that case, the remedy is to get a new car engine.

Q: Which car has the most engine problems?

The 200-2010 Audi A4 with its 2-liter engine has the worst car engine problems. Its engine problems usually start after usage between 105,000 to 150,000 miles.

It is better to buy a costly car that will not stress you out with regular engine problems than buy a cheaper one with continuous daily problems.

Q: What cars have no engine problems?

The following are ranked as the top cars with little engine problems; Hyundai Kona, Genesis G90, Chevrolet Bolt, Ford Fusion, Nissan Altima, Dodge Charger, Lincoln Navigator, Lexus LS500, Kia Stinger, and Toyota Land Cruiser.

Q: Can engine problems be fixed?

It depends on the extent of the engine damage. Minor engine damage with a few components still in good shape, especially the engine block, can be fixed. But major damages that leave only an insignificant part may require an engine replacement.

Therefore, to avoid expensive engine problems, endeavor to practice good maintenance culture for your car’s engine and other components.

Q: Does insurance cover engine failure?

It depends on the insurance cover, whether third-party insurance, comprehensive, etc. It also depends on the cause of the engine failure.

Under a comprehensive insurance cover, a car owner would be able to claim if the engine failure is a result of a fatal accident such as a collision or fire outbreak. However, a third-party insurance cover does not cover engine failure.

Final Words

After knowing all the common engine problems discussed above in this article, it is pertinent to say that “Prevention is better than cure.” It would be best if you don’t risk trying to manage any of the problems unveiled above and be committed to regular maintenance culture for your car.

It is better to save yourself energy and money by doing the needful instead of neglecting your car until its components, especially the engine, become bad. However, if you encounter any of the problems discussed above, do not panic. Kindly see a professional auto mechanic for the solution.


Recent Posts