Lifestyle

Engine failure: Signs you should never ignore

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An engine is the power source that propels a vehicle. Many car owners whose cars struggle or break down do not know that their engines are failing.

Gerald Swaib, a mechanic in Ntinda, Kampala, says knowing what is wrong with a car engine is not easy but a car owner can notice a few things which will act as a starting point to diagnosing the problem.

According to Swaib, the easiest and noticeable sign is the check engine light which shows on the vehicle’s dashboard. Swaib says reading the engine codes with a diagnostic tool will help identify a specific issue.

Decreased performance is another sign that a car engine is failing. This happens when a vehicle shows reduced acceleration, difficulty reaching higher speeds and an overall lack of power. For instance, trying to step on the accelerator pedal but the car is slow to increase speed.

Excessive exhaust smoke

An increase in the amount or colour of exhaust smoke indicates an engine problem. For instance, blue smoke suggests burning oil, white smoke may indicate a coolant leak while black smoke can point to a fuel system issue.

Another sign is overheating. This is caused by problems in the coolant system or a malfunctioning thermostat. According to www.rmoutlook.com, the simplest way to prevent your vehicle from overheating is to monitor your coolant levels proactively.

Many vehicles have a coolant reservoir, but you can also check the radiator. If you have been driving, allow your engine time to cool before checking the radiator, as removing the cap too soon can be dangerous.

Additionally, a sudden increase in fuel consumption without an obvious explanation, such as changes in driving habits such as speeding or environmental conditions such as climbing a hill is a sign your engine is failing. This can be caused by fuel system issues and sensor malfunctions.

Unusual noises

Further still, persistent oil leaks, especially if they become more frequent are a sign of a failing engine and should be addressed as soon as possible to prevent further damage to the engine.

Another problem is the engine misfiring and making strange noises. Frequent misfires is where the engine stumbles during acceleration due to issues with ignition components or fuel delivery. Unusual noises coming from engine such as knocking, grinding, or hissing are a sign of internal damage or worn-out components and should not be ignored.

Here are some tips to help you maintain your car’s engine:

Regular maintenance helps keep your engine clean and properly lubricated as this is done by following the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedules for oil changes, filter replacements and other routine maintenance tasks.

Always using high- quality motor oil and filters. Joel Kayondo, a mechanic specialising in lubricants, says using the right oil for your vehicle during service is key.

“During service, use the right oil and filters as they can provide better lubrication and filtration and protect your engine from wear and contaminants,” he says.

Kayondo also advises motorists to use fuel from reputable fuel stations so as to maintain engine cleanliness and efficiency.

Fluid levels

Another tip is to regularly check and maintain proper levels of engine oil, coolant, transmission fluid and other vital fluids to prevent overheating or damage.

“I often check the water level from my car bonnet every two days to ensure that my car does not run out of water. This helps to keep it cool and reduce chances of overheating and destroying my car’s engine,” says Charles Ssekamanya, a seasoned driver.

Additionally, Ssekamanya says, a motorist should avoid aggressive driving habits such as sudden acceleration, hard braking and rapid gear changes.

A motorist should also keep their air filters clean by replacing them regularly to prevent dirt and debris from entering the engine.

A motorist should also address issues promptly. For example, if you notice any unusual noises, vibrations, or warning lights related to your engine, have them inspected and repaired promptly because ignoring such issues can lead to more significant damage.

Identify strange smells

Cars often smell a bit funky, given the vast amount of complex fluids and emissions they produce, but you should be familiar with how your car smells in daily operation.

Smells such as excessively hot oil, burning rubber, exhaust smells in or near the cabin are hints toward the health of your car.

These smells do not happen without a reason. That reason could be a melting fuel hose, a damaged drive belt, or a complete failure of the exhaust system that is causing a catastrophic engine meltdown.

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