Spotting 8 Early Symptoms of Engine Problems

Updated Jul 05, 2018 | Same topic: Handy Maintenance Tips

Get your car checked ASAP when you notice these signs.

Sometimes we could get too confident and too at ease about many things. In our everyday lives, we think that we are always safe on the road, we are always healthy, or we are always going to be okay – until something terribly goes wrong. We are left unprepared, because we see something slightly out of ordinary and we ignored it, thinking that it’ll pass. Then after some time, the signs we ignored just developed into a more terrible situation that we could have prevented – only if we believed that something is wrong.

This is surely a bad way of saying those what ifs and could’ve beens. “If only I… I could have…”  Not only because you ended up in such a deep sink hole, but at the same time, it is bleeding the hell out of your pocket. Now then you will realize that ‘Prevention is better than cure” is not exclusively applicable in health, but also in some other things. All of these realizations just came in too late.

If you see that a certain upcoming trouble can cause you a lot of money in the long run, the risk is not worth taking. The best way to deal with this is to stop it early on, before everything gets worse.

Being sensitive to your car’s ‘feelings’ can help you in preventing serious and costly problems in the future. You don’t really have to guess what’s wrong because in one way or another your car will show you signs that there’s something unusual going on in it. We just have to be sensitive, aware and alert to these symptoms so we can take appropriate actions.

A girl with her car engine's problem

Being sensitive to your car’s ‘feelings’ can help you in preventing serious and costly problems in the future

One of the parts of your car that can be costly and dangerous when damaged is the engine. This is why it is important for you to spot the early signs of its failure so you can have it checked as soon as possible. Next question that you may have is: “How do I know if my engine has a problem?” Today, will give you 11 early signs of an engine problem:

1. ‘Check Engine’ is ON

This is the most obvious sign that your engine has a problem. It won’t light up for no reason at all – maybe you’re thinking that it’s just the thermostat going faulty or what, but you can only assume. You don’t want your car to stop somewhere or in the middle of traffic causing hassle to other people just because you ignored the lit up ‘check engine’ light. It is always safe and wise to turn the car in for a quick check in your trusted auto shop when this happens.

Check Engine lights on

Alert: Check Engine lights up! Get your car checked ASAP

2. You hear unusual noises in your car

If your car is normally smooth and quiet, hearing noises from any of its parts can be quite striking. Sometimes, we resort to ‘observe’ these sounds first, until it either goes away eventually or you get immune to it that the sounds become normal in your everyday car use. That is a bad thing. Strange noise from your car means something might be loose and may need to be tightened up. If you hear knocking noise from the hood, it could be a sign of a serious problem in the engine, like damage to its mechanical parts like pistons and bearings among others. If you hear a knocking noise, or any kind of noise coming from your engine, take your car for a check up to prevent further damage that could result to your car breaking down.

How To Find Engine Noises

3. Smoke coming out of your car

Smoke is only good in BBQs and cooking, but not too much though. Otherwise, smoke is bad – it almost always signals something burning. It also applies to your car. If you see smoke coming from any part of your car, particularly in the engine or exhaust pipes, then you are in for some engine problems. There are several kinds of car smoke that you should be aware of.

smoke coming out of a car

If you see smoke coming from any part of your car, then you are in for some engine problems

Black Smoke 

This means your car is having combustion problems leading to burning too much fuel. Black smoke can be caused by damaged fuel injectors and air filter, faulty sensors, clog in the fuel line and mechanical engine damage.

Grey Smoke

This type is pretty hard to define, however, it could be a result of a stuck positive crankcase ventilation (PCV) valve, transmission problems or excessive oil consumption.

Dark Blue Smoke

This means that there’s oil leaking into your combustion chamber and that oil is being burned by your engine. This is usually a result of worn out piston rings, broken valve seals and other worn out parts.

4. Engine is having a hard time running than usual

If your car is always up for a challenge like driving in moderate to high speeds on a flat surface or highway or it can go up the hill without any issues then suddenly you notice that it’s already having difficulty doing those things that it used to do, then you are having an engine problem. If your engine doesn’t seem to perform as well as it has before, perhaps it’s time to get it checked.

>>> Read more:

a girl pushing a car

If your car's engine is having a hard time running than usual, let's check it

5. Fuel inefficiency

If before you can survive a week with just filling up 500 pesos worth of gas and now you have to fill up more frequently than usual, then it’s a sign of an engine problem. This means your engine consumes more fuel for some reason. Instead of ignoring it and just willingly waste your money away to fill your gas tank, it is better to have it checked by your mechanic to save your car from further damage and money going down the drain.

6. Unusual smell

Unusual smoke, unusual smell may go hand in hand. If there’s something burning in your car that is more than what needs to be burned, or isn’t supposed to be burned, a smoke or smell should be evident, especially inside the car. Never ignore strange smells and have your car checked right away.

7. Oil leaks

After you drive out of your parking slot, you notice that there’s a wet spot from where you’ve parked – it is a sign of oil leak. Oil leak can result to friction which furthermore results to excessive heat. Make sure that all leaks are sealed properly by your mechanic.

Oil leaked from a car

Oil leak can result to friction which furthermore results to excessive heat

8. Chugging engine

If you feel your engine chugging or shaking, it could only signal a possible engine problem. Rather than waiting for your car to break down, take it to the auto shop ASAP.

Once you see any of symptoms, don’t hesitate to have your car checked. Prevention is always better than cure. Ignoring these signs that could lead to more serious car problems is definitely a risk you don’t want to take.

>>> Click here to get more helpful tips and advice for your car maintenance

Ivy Kristia Padura

Ivy Kristia Padura


Ivy is one of the first Philkotse's content writers. She finds joy in sharing her driving tips, particular for dealing with heavy traffic in Metro Manila, with other fellow drivers.

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