Car Maintenance 101: Troubleshooting Your Engine for Problems (Part 2)

Note to Reader 3: Sometimes engine problems can be quite subtle when they start showing symptoms. The sooner you catch these symptoms, the better. There are moments when the symptoms appear to be so minor that it makes it so easy for you to simply ignore them, but that could be a big mistake. It’s better to be careful than to have to pay thousands of dollars replacing numerous engine system components simply because you chose to ignore a deviation from your engine’s normal performance. So my advice to you is that the moment you feel that there’s something wrong with your engine, go with your gut feel and conduct an auto tune-up or troubleshoot your engine for signs of problems as soon as possible.

If you Notice Fluctuating Engine Power See, this is one of the examples of a very subtle symptom. While you won’t experience stalling and even a complete engine breakdown, if you notice that your engine’s performance has dipped slightly or is steadily starting to decline, then act on this problem as soon as possible. In this scenario, you won’t feel excessive vibrations and you won’t hear whining noises coming from your engine, but what you will notice is how your engine is having difficulties maintaining its performance. This may come in the form of an engine that has trouble revving, or slows down even as you push on your gas pedal. Either way, the following factors may be the culprit/s behind your “less-than-great” engine performance…

Possible Cause: Dirty Spark Plugs. Prop up your hood and inspect your spark plugs for signs of dirt buildup. Naturally, when grime coats your spark plugs, you can expect these plugs to have difficulties firing up your engine cylinders. While it may not automatically lead to a misfiring engine cylinder, dirty spark plugs can mean less power to start and warm up your engine properly.

Possible Solution: Regap your spark plugs and clean each one using a small, fine brush.

Possible Cause: A Filthy Air Filter. It’s recommended that you replace your air filter each time you notice a buildup of debris on its netting. If your filter is reusable and you’ve tried washing and reusing it several times, inspect your filter for signs of damage. Remember, while it’s crucial to let in the right amount of airflow for more efficient fuel combustion, it’s equally vital that you prevent fuel contamination by keeping your air filter in mint condition.

Possible Solution: If it’s reusable and still in good shape, wash it and return it after drying. If it’s torn or if your air filter is not reusable, don’t bother washing, simply replace it with a brand new filter as soon as you can.

Possible Cause: Damaged Ignition Wires. Once again, if you notice arcing, then that’s never a good sign. Another sign of wire trouble is fraying. If the wire has become brittle or if it’s cracking, it’s best to not take any chances and to have these wires replaced as soon as possible.

Possible Solution: Look for ignition wires that would work with your current ignition setup. Install these new wires into place.

Possible Cause: Clogged or Damaged Fuel Filter. Found in your fuel system, check out your fuel filter for signs of clogging or damage. There are two dangers associated with busted fuel filters: (1) it limits or restricts the amount of fuel that enters your engine’s combustion chamber; and (2) if it’s broken then it could let in contaminants leading to poor fuel combustion.

Possible Solution: If damage is extensive, do replace this filter as soon as possible. If you have a reusable filter, wash clean and make sure you remove the grime buildup as best as you can without damaging the filter.

Possible Cause: Ignition Troubles. Once again, conduct a full auto tune-up. Check your distributor cap and rotor, spark plugs, and your ignition wires for damage.

Possible Solution: Either you clean them or replace them. If they’re damaged, replace these components immediately! If you’re replacing your distributor cap, replace the rotor as well.

Possible Cause: Mechanical Problems. Finally, an engine problem caused by engine malfunction. Purchase a fuel pressure gauge to first check if your fuel pump is to blame. If it isn’t, check your engine’s various components and look for signs of wear and tear.

Possible Solution: Repair the parts that need repairing. But if the damage is too widespread, or if the part is irreparable, don’t scrimp now! Purchase quality engine parts and replace them.

Possible Cause: Clogged Exhaust System. Inspect all the components of this system for signs of clogging. When your exhaust pipes or your tailpipe becomes clogged, expect noxious gases to get stuck inside your ride. Aside from the health dangers a malfunctioning exhaust brings, it also means engine damage caused by the pollutants that are unable to escape through your network of exhaust pipes.

Possible Solution: Replace individual components if damage is not extensive. Otherwise I suggest replacing your entire exhaust system. Exhaust overhaul isn’t that bad, especially if you choose a great performance exhaust system to use on your ride.

Possible Cause: Malfunctioning Catalytic Converter. Look for your exhaust pipes, these pipes lead to your catalytic converter. Examine your catalytic converter for signs of blockage or clogging.

Possible Solution: If there is clogging, I suggest replacing your catalytic converter before your entire exhaust system starts to malfunction.


One Response to Car Maintenance 101: Troubleshooting Your Engine for Problems (Part 2)

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