Signs of Engine Trouble
Any engine will start to show signs of age and wear, after enough miles or with improper maintenance. Here are some signs to watch for:
Illuminated malfunction indicator lamp (MIL): The MIL on your dashboard is designed to light up to let you know when the engine control computer has registered a problem with a system. Sometimes the MIL lights up over a fairly insignificant problem…but other times it can be something more serious. The good news is that it’s a simple matter for a technician to hook up a code reader/scanner device to the car and quickly diagnose what’s going on.
Smoke: Smoke is never a good thing. Black smoke means a vehicle that’s running rich and burning too much gas (the exhaust will usually smell “gassy” as well). Blue smoke means that oil is making its way past piston rings or valve seals and is getting burned in the combustion chambers. White smoke is really steam, as coolant is getting burned in the engine due to a cracked head, blown head gasket or other problem. Note: a little water vapor is normal on cold or humid days and shouldn’t be confused with steam.
Overheating: A badly-overheated engine is bad news. Years ago, when engines were entirely cast-iron, overheating wasn’t such a big deal. Today’s aluminum alloy engines, however, can be ruined by just one serious overheating episode. Overheating doesn’t just happen on its own…if your vehicle overheats or just runs hot, get it checked out right away.
Noises: Some noises are normal, or at least not much to worry about. A slight valve clatter, for instance, isn’t a big deal on an older engine. Heavy knocking or thumping, on the other hand, can mean internal damage to bearings or other assemblies. A “pinging” sound, especially while accelerating, is bad news and can quickly lead to serious engine damage.
At Kirkwood Auto Center in Wilmington, DE, we want you to be able to get the most miles out of your vehicle…and with the right maintenance and proper driving habits, today’s cars can easily go far past the 200,000-mile mark and still have many miles left to go. Make an appointment with us and let’s talk about a maintenance program for your vehicle!