Engine Damage – Look For Deterioration, Before It’s Too Late

Engine Damage - Look For Gradual Deterioration, Before It's Too Late
Engine Damage – Look For Gradual Deterioration, Before It’s Too Late

It’s not always easy to recognize, when your vehicle is suffering from possible engine damage.

Many symptoms can be overlooked and seen as “normal.” (Engine Damage)

While not all symptoms may threaten the life of your engine, there are some obvious warning signs for engine damage.

If you have any engine damage, it will significantly affect your vehicles performance. Fortunately, you can save yourself time and money, by diagnosing engine problems, before they cause more harm.

So, the engine is the heart of your vehicle, giving it the necessary power, it needs to operate correctly. The engine keeps giving us signs of its, gradual deterioration, before falling apart completely. Consequently, we must be aware of such engine signs, and one needs to be very conscious.

Here Are A Few Of The Common Signs Of, Possible Engine Damage:

The Check Engine Light Turns On

Check Engine Light (CEL)
Check Engine Light (CEL)

Dashboard warning lights, are your vehicle’s way of alerting you, about problems it detects, via its On-Board Diagnostics (OBD) system. So, if your Check Engine Light (CEL) turns on, you should not dismiss it.

As, ignoring the warning, could cause more damage to your engine (and other parts) over time. Consequently, there are many different things, that can trigger a Check Engine Light (CEL).

Some common reasons for a check engine light appearing include:

  • Mass Airflow Sensor (MAF), is in need of replacement.
  • Catalytic converter is damaged, and in need of replacement.
  • Spark plugs are damaged or worn (causing engine misfires).
  • Fuel Cap isn’t on tight enough (a very common, easy to fix issue).
  • Could also be many other electronic sensor, and actuator related issues.
  • The Oxygen Sensor (O2), needs replacing.

Most auto parts stores will read your fault codes for free!

Your Vehicle Is Making Strange Noises

A knocking noise coming from under your hood, is a classic sign of engine damage.

This noise could be caused by, wear or damage to your engine’s mechanical parts such as:

  • Pistons
  • Bearings
  • Or other moving parts

So, if you hear this type of noise, don’t wait. You should take your vehicle to a mechanic, as soon as possible to prevent further damage. Because, ignoring this problem, could result in your vehicle breaking down on the side of the road. And, a much greater repair bill (than catching the problem early).

In addition, other noises you should look out for include popping, hissing, spitting and backfiring from your exhaust.

The Engine Is Running Rough Or Inconsistently

Listen to the sound your engine produces, while you are driving. Is it consistent? A struggling engine will often stutter, shake or lose power, as the revs increase.

A few common solutions for this may be:

  • Replace the spark plugs.
  • Test/Replace your ignition coils.
  • Check your fuel pressure.
  • Clean your Air Flow Meter.
  • Or give your engine a tune-up.

Oil Patches Under Your Vehicle

Oil Leak On The Ground
Oil Leak On The Ground

If you notice puddles of oil under your vehicle, this is probably a result of a leak from your engine. As the oil depletes, more friction will occur in your engine, generating excess heat. Oil leaks are common from, engine oil seals, and sump plugs / sump plug washers.

This can cause damage to engine components over time.

You Smell Something From Inside The Vehicle

Above all, the smell of a vehicles emissions, should never be noticeable, from inside the vehicle. If you have a strong exhaust smell or any strange smell, this could be a sign of engine damage.

Don’t ignore strange engine smells and expect them to go away.

Your Vehicle Is Using More Fuel Than Normal

In most cases, a bad Oxygen (O2) Sensor, will trigger a Check Engine Light (CEL). P0138 and P0135 are some of the codes you may expect to see, on the OBD-II reader. Other than that, it’s difficult to spot, a failing Oxygen (O2) Sensor. Hence, it will inevitably lead to, poor fuel economy.

Increased fuel consumption can often be related to, a fault in the way your engine processes fuel. Especially, when paired with a visible Check Engine Light (CEL) and other engine-related symptoms. So, if you notice your vehicle is using more fuel, get it checked and fixed by a professional.

This will save you money in the long run.

You Experience A Loss Of Engine Power ( Possible Engine Damage )

There are four things a gasoline engine requires to generate power. And, almost any engine problem will come down to something, relating to one of these four factors:


Dirty Air Filter

  • Luckily an easy fix, air filters can get clogged up with debris over the miles. So, it’s important to either clean them or replace them when this happens.

Exhaust Restrictions

  • What comes in must go out. Therefore, restrictions on either end of the engine, will mean reduced airflow and reduced performance. As a result, the engine will have to work harder, to push out exhaust gases, limiting power.


Fuel Injectors

Fuel Pumps

  • Overtime, the fuel pump can wear out. But, it might not necessarily, fail catastrophically.

3- Compression:

Worn Out Engine

  • For old engines, maintaining compression, can be a bit of challenge. Compression-related issues, are often a major contributing factor, to a loss of power. Furthermore, the fixes aren’t as easy as some other reasons, simply because metal components, have worn over time.

Carbon Deposits On Intake Valves/Valve Seats

Carbon Deposits On Valves
Carbon Deposits On Valves
  • Consequently, if carbon deposits build up on the valves, this can prevent the valves from, closing properly. If an intake valve cannot fully close, it will allow air to escape, during the compression stroke. As a result, it will lower the compression ratio.

4- Spark:

Fouled Spark Plugs

  • Spark plugs can build up deposits over time. Inconsistent spark plug firing means, you’re likely to misfire. So, maintaining clean plugs, doesn’t result in a loss of power.

Carbon Deposits On The Piston:

  • If deposits build on the piston or cylinder walls, these deposits can create hot spots. Consequently, these hot spots can result in engine knock, if conditions allow for it. So, if the engine is capable, it will retard the ignition timing to reduce the likelihood of spark knock.
  • By retarding the ignition timing, power is lost. Engines will struggle to run at their usual level, if there is an internal problem. Your vehicle may stall, shake at high speeds or struggle with hills.

There Is Smoke Coming From Your Exhaust ( Possible Engine Damage )

There are several reasons why, your exhaust could be producing smoke. Consequently, the color of the smoke can give you an idea, of what is causing the problem.

Exhaust Smoke Colors
Exhaust Smoke Colors

Black Smoke, usually means that your engine is having, incomplete combustion, which leads to burning too much fuel.

This could be due to:

  • Damaged fuel injectors.
  • Malfunctioning sensors.
  • A damaged air filter.
  • A clogged fuel return line.
  • Mechanical damage in the engine

Grey Smoke, can mean several different things, making it difficult to diagnose.

Possible reasons include:

  • A stuck PCV valve.
  • Problems with your transmission fluid.
  • Excessive oil consumption.

Dark Blue Smoke, means that your engine is burning oil. This is due to, oil leaking into your engine’s combustion chamber.

This could be due to:

  • Worn out piston rings.
  • Damaged valve seals.
  • Other worn or damaged engine components.

White Smoke, means that your engine is burning engine coolant. That tells you engine coolant is entering the combustion chamber.

This could be due to:

You May Think Your Head Gasket Is Blown ( Possible Engine Damage )

A driver will often wonder, what causes a blown head gasket. The truth is, anything from the coolant system, going to the combustion chamber, could be responsible.

Engine Damage - Look For Gradual Deterioration Before It's Too Late
You May Think Your Head Gasket Is Blown

Most confusing is, the symptoms which resemble those of head gasket failure, will sometimes originate from other causes. In certain cases, a symptom might show, due to multiple failures within the engine.

Examples could include the following:

  • Overheating, could be caused by a clogged radiator.
  • Coolant in the oil, usually blamed on head gaskets, could actually be due to problems with the intake gasket.

Symptoms such as these, may or may not be due to the head gasket.

Your Vehicle May Need New Spark Plugs ( Possible Engine Damage )

So, spark plugs act as, an integral component of a vehicles ignition system. And, work by receiving high-voltage electrical current, from the ignition coils. Consequently, using it to ignite the air/fuel mixture, in the combustion chamber.

New Spark Plugs
New Spark Plugs

When a spark plug fails to fire, it can cause simple to serious problems.

Here are some warning signs, that could mean failing spark plugs:

Engine Misfires

So, an engine that misfires, gives an instantly-recognizable sensation. Because, it will stumble for a brief period and then regain its pace. Consequently, if this happens, it means the engine is, not working as smoothly as it should. And, the more frequently this occurs, the more serious the problem.

A misfiring engine means, the spark plugs are not firing properly. Furthermore, a single misfiring spark plug, can cause a lot of raw fuel to be dumped into the exhaust. As a result, this could cause it to, overheat and damage the catalytic converter.

Lack of Acceleration

If you notice a loss of pep in your vehicles step, take it in for a professional inspection. Chances are, your spark plugs are bad.

Engine Won’t Start

So, is your vehicle having, problems starting correctly? If so, this could be due to, worn spark plugs. When spark plugs are overly worn, it can cause a vehicles ignition system to work harder. Add in harsh weather conditions and the engine could have trouble starting.

Rough Idle

Vehicles idle all the time, when at a stop light, in traffic, and so on. And, during these times, your vehicles engine, should run continuous and smooth. But, if spark plugs are not working properly, the engine will produce a rough, jittery sound, and stumble.

High Fuel Consumption

Filling up on fuel, more than usual? This could mean spark plug trouble. One of the main duties of spark plugs is to help ensure emissions are kept at a minimum. So, when spark plugs go bad, it can cause, a decrease in fuel economy.

High Fuel Consumption
High Fuel Consumption

Consequently, as spark plugs wear, the gap between plug electrodes, can expand or close up. Both negatively affect, the engine’s fuel economy and emissions.


So, it is important to be aware of, potentially damaging symptoms. Finally, have the vehicle checked, if something doesn’t seem right.


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