Note to Reader 4: Most of the time, we consider engine problems to be those that cause our rides to buck and stall. The thing is, sometimes engine problems can occur while you’re moving. It’s a bit more dangerous, especially if the engine trouble is severe, causing you to lose control over your vehicle. The moment you experience engine problems, do slow down until you get to your destination. If the problem is grave, pull over to avoid risking complete vehicle breakdown.
If while driving, your engine misfires or surges unexpectedly… These are examples of life’s not-so-great surprises. One moment your engine is completely fine—you start your car without glitches and accelerate well until a few miles later, maintaining a steady speed, your engine suddenly speeds up and bucks, jolting you almost out of your seat. If you experience this engine problem, it’s highly possible that you have…
Possible Cause: your engine is about to overheat. Now honestly, when was the last time you checked your radiator’s fluid levels? When was the last time you added coolant to your car? Failure to conduct tune ups usually lead to overheating. If you’ve recently added water and coolant mixture into your engine cooling system, but you still experience this problem, your best recourse is to check your cooling system for malfunctioning auto parts. The culprit could be a loose fan belt, a busted radiator, cracked radiator hoses, or a stuck thermostat.
Possible Solution: After identifying the “problematic part”, either repair or replace the component. I suggest replacing the component completely though. Especially if the part that’s in question is more than just a few years old.
Possible Cause: If you’re sporting an older ride, then your carburetor’s choke might not be working as well as it should be or it may not be positioned correctly. Remember, older vehicle models tend to foul up faster than newer models. Which is why it pays to conduct regular auto maintenance, increasing the frequency of your tune-ups as your car ages.
Possible Solution: Check your choke plate. Is it positioned correctly? Is it still working as it should? Does it open completely? If not, then you either replace it or repair it. If the damage is quite severe, I suggest you put down your repair tools and start looking around for a replacement choke plate to avoid a repeat of this nasty episode.
Possible Cause: Malfunctioning ignition timing.
Possible Solution: The good news is that most of the time, you won’t really have to make any replacements when it comes to wacky ignition timing. All you have to do is make all the right adjustments, and you’ve got great ignition timing—hopefully for years!
Possible Cause: Too-Low fuel pressure. This problem could be caused by either a malfunctioning fuel pump or a bad fuel pressure regulator. Check your fuel pump and fuel pump regulator using a fuel pump gauge. Note where the fuel pressure is dipping.
Possible Solution: If the culprit is a poor fuel pressure regulator, then I suggest looking around for a replacement part and taking your car to your local mechanic for installation. If you’re a skilled mechanic, then you should be able to install a new fuel pressure regulator easily. But if you’re just starting out, it’s always best to have the professionals take care of this job. Believe me, the fuel pressure regulator is not an easy part to install.
Possible Cause: Problems with your engine computer or computerized engine control system. Remember my post on DTC (diagnostic trouble code)? You’ll need a DTC reader to interpret the codes coming from your engine computer. Look for a scan tool if you don’t have one already and plug it into your engine computer. If you don’t have one, there are some garages who would let you use their scan tools for a small price—some might even let you use a DTC reader for free, so long as you promise to come back to them for tune ups and repairs. Point is, get a reading. Don’t forget to test the circuits too!
Possible Solution: If there’s a part that needs repairing, leave it to the professionals. Unless of course, you’re confident that you can conduct all these repairs at home—you’ll need relatively expensive replacement equipment and tools for this though.
Possible Cause: I’d hate to sound rather vague, but this could be indication of an ignition problem. Because your ignition system has numerous parts, list down the parts of your ignition—starter, starter solenoid, ignition coil, distributor cap, distributor rotor, spark plug wires, and spark plugs. Now, check each of these components starting with the spark plugs, ignition wires, distributor cap, and rotor.
Possible Solution: When you spot grave damage, replace, replace, replace! Otherwise, if it’s just a matter of grime buildup or dirty plugs, simply clean these components. If your wires are tangled, prevent arcing and damage caused by friction by using a spark plug wire loom or divider on your car. It basically organizes your wires and offer better insulation. In short, it keeps your wires organized, making it easier to access your spark plug wires for inspection and/or installation.
Possible Cause: Troublesome Torque Converter. Skip this part if you’re driving a manual, since this component is only present in automatic transmission vehicles. Inspect your torque converter and try to determine if it locks during pivotal moments. (Pun not intended). A slipping torque converter could also mean trouble, so make sure your current converter is properly installed and in place.
Possible Solution: If your torque converter is damaged, replace it as soon as possible. Again, this might not be a do-it-yourself (DIY) job. You can still purchase this component at a great price online, but I suggest you let your local mechanic do the installing for you.