How Much Do You Know About Common Engine Symptoms and Solutions?


By: Craig

6 Min Quiz

Image: Shutterstock

About This Quiz

VROOM VROOM! While people were able to make due before the late 1800s, imagining life without cars seems impossible! You can't walk down the street without seeing one,  and while this invention was genius, it's not perfect! Cars often have issues and most of the reasons are due to the engine! Car lovers might love the outside, but only a true fanatic knows it inside and out. How much do you know about common engine symptoms and solutions?

In the 21st century, cars are no longer a novelty. If you walked down the street, you'd probably be shocked if you didn't see at least one car. The same couldn't be said before the late 1800s. In 1885, German inventor Karl Benz is credited with the first true running vehicle that had an internal engine. The car industry would go on to grow astronomically from there.

While everyone could appreciate the superficial appearance of cars like a Mercedes-Benz, Corvette, or Lamborghini, the car is pointless if the engine isn't working properly! How much do you know about common engine symptoms and solutions?

The first car had an internal-combustion engine, but there are tons of different types like the VEE, inline, straight, boxer, and more! Could you doctor all these engines? If you hear knocking from the engine compartment or seeing blue smoke from the exhaust pipe, could you figure out your engine issues? Could you fix it? There's only one way to find out!

Cars are amazing when they run properly! No one wants to have engine issues, but you seem like you're ready to prove that no engine symptom is an issue for you! Put the pedal to the metal and prove that you're an engine pro!

Fasten those seat belts!

While driving, you hear a knocking sound coming from the engine compartment. What could the problem be?

The most likely cause of a knocking sound coming from your engine is worn engine bearings. You should take your car to a mechanic immediately.


You have noticed a smell similar to sulfur coming from around your engine. What do you check first?

Although a smell of sulfur can be many things, the most likely cause is a catalytic converter that is failing.


While driving your car, you have started to notice strange odors, similar to exhaust gases or engine fumes. What should you check immediately?

There could be a number of reasons for these fumes, including a fault with the vehicles emissions system. Or it could even be a hole in your exhaust which allows fumes into the car. Always get it checked out, however.


There is a distinct lack of power when driving your car all of a sudden. The most likely problem is?

A number of things could cause your car to lose power under normal driving conditions. The first place to check is the ignition timing.


In your day-to-day running of your car, you have noticed that it is using more fuel than usual. The acceleration of the car is also not what it should be. What can you check first?

A dirty air filter means less air is getting into the engine which will not only result in poorer performance but also in a higher fuel consumption


You have recently noticed a hissing sound coming from under your hood when the engine is running. What could it be?

A hissing sound coming from the engine indicates that there is most likely a leak in the manifold. This can be from a failing gasket.


Lately, clouds of dark blue smoke have been coming out your exhaust pipe. What problem with your engine could be causing this?

Other than worn piston rings, be sure to check valve seals for damage as well.


Your car engine not only lacks power but is vibrating violently. What should you have checked?

The most likely cause of this problem is ignition timing. Even if it is something else, you need to have the car checked by a mechanic.


The battery in my car has a white powder around the terminals. What part under the hood could be causing the problem?

This could be caused by your alternator actually overcharging your battery.


Not only is your car using more gas, but its running at a higher temperature than before. A check of the coolant level in the radiator shows nothing wrong? What else could it be?

If nothing seems wrong with the coolant level and there are no obvious radiator leaks, the emission system on your car is probably not working properly, especially if you have neglected maintenance.


Your brakes shudder when you brake hard. What is causing this?

If your car has an ABS system in it, you will notice shuddering when braking hard. That's just the system working. If it doesn't have an ABS system, there could be a major problem with your brakes. Have them checked out.


You notice that black smoke has started bellowing out of your exhaust pipe, especially on startup and when pulling away. What could be the problem?

Black smoke = too much fuel burned. This can be caused by numerous problems, including damage to your fuel injectors, sensors that are malfunctioning, a clogged air filter or a blocked fuel return line. A mechanic is the best person to find the problem.


Lately, you have noticed a sweet smell coming from the engine while the car is running. What should you check?

Coolant has a very sweet smell, so if you do notice this, it is important to check that your radiator does not have a leak.


Your car has suddenly developed a terrible miss, with the engine clearly not running properly. What is the simplest thing to check first?

Often, a miss in the engine could be as a result of a spark plug breaking down and not firing. This is the first thing you should check.


A flashing blinking battery sign on your dashboard indicates a problem you should address? What is it?

A non-charging battery will eventually result in your car not starting.


The brake pedal on your vehicle has suddenly become spongy when you press down on it. What is the cause?

When air enters the brake system, the brakes will need to be bled, this means letting all the brake fluid out, along with the air and then replacing it.


The engine on your car has developed a miss. Not only will it not run properly but there is a lack of power as well. You have checked the spark plugs and they seem fine. What do you check next?

If the spark plugs have been check and are fine, one of the leads might be breaking down and could be the source of the problem.


After driving through water that was deeper than you thought, your car stalls a few meters further down the road? What could the problem be.

Although it may seem like a serious problem, this you can solve yourself. First make sure all the wet areas are dried, using high pressure air if necessary. Then spray with an anti-moisture lubricant.


As you try to start your car one morning, you hear a noise as you turn the key and nothing happens. The motor won't even turn over. Your lights and other electronics still work, however. What is the first thing you should check for a problem?

If all your electronics are still working properly (lights, clock and radio, for example) the chances are that the problem stems from your starter motor.


After some heavy rains and driving on flooded roads, you notice that your clutch pedal is not working as it should. What could the problem be?

Most clutches and gearboxes operate in a dry system. If water penetrates it, and it can happen, especially if you drive through a large enough puddle, selecting gears can become problematic. The only way to fix this problem is to let everything dry out naturally over time.


The water in the fuel indicator is glowing on the dashboard of your diesel vehicle. What is the first thing you should check, drain and clean?

Water will collect in the diesel filter from time to time. When too much collects there, the water in fuel light will come on. This is easily fixed by just draining the filter, cleaning it up and letting it dry.


The engine management warning light is flicking red on your dashboard. You have notices a few sounds coming from the engine. What should you NOT do?

Any warning lights should be adhered to as soon as possible. Carrying on driving like nothing is wrong will only cause some form of failure in your engine down the line.


Your car won't start. It is turning over with difficulty but the engine won't fire. What is the likely cause of the problem?

In all likelihood the car battery has drained. This can be for a number of reasons, but maybe you left the lights on overnight.


You have noticed over the past week that your car is starting to struggle to start. All of a sudden, it won't turn over and fire at all. Your recently installed a new battery, so that can't be the problem. What is the likely cause and what should be checked?

If your battery has been slowly discharging, chances are the alternator is not working as it should. The main task of the alternator is to keep the battery charged. Make sure it is doing its job.


While accelerating, you have noticed a squealing noise coming from the engine. What could it be?

Generally, a squealing noise from the engine means a loose belt, usually to the alternator, but sometimes also the radiator's fan belt.


The clutch pedal on your vehicle has suddenly become spongy when you press down on it. What is the cause?

In this situation, air has entered the hydraulic system and it will need a trip to the mechanic to sort out.


Your vehicle has become very noisy, especially from either the middle or the rear. It's not the engine. What else could it be?

A hole in the exhaust will amply the sound of your engine greatly.


No matter how often you replace them, light bulbs blow regularly on your vehicle. What part of equipment under the hood could be causing this?

If the voltage produced by your alternator is too high, it could cause your light bulbs to blow


You have noticed distinct metallic sounds coming from your engine. What is the first thing you should check?

If your engine has a lack of oil, it can nolonger lubricate itself properly. This means that metal parts can touch, which would cause the sounds you hear.


You have noticed that your car splutters and runs poorly until the engine has heated properly. What could be the problem?

Automatic chokes, particularly in older cards, can fail in colder weather. If they are not working properly, the engine will not run well until it has warmed up sufficiently.


There is something wrong with your engine. It is not running as it should. You notice a number of symptoms. A lack of power with an intermittent miss. What could the problem be?

An intermittent miss can be caused by a number of things. Have the car's computer system checkout out, however.


Lately, there is a faint smell similar to sulfur coming from your engine when it is running. What should you have checked?

Although the smell of sulfur can be a number of things, if it is not a catalytic converter, it is probably a problem with your fuel system.


When checking your engine oil, you notice that it is very dark and particularly gritty to the touch. What should you do?

Black oil with gritty particles can damage your engine. Time to perform an oil change.


Recently you have noticed that moving through the gears on your manual car is becoming more difficult. There is even a slight noise when changing gears. What should you check?

If transmission fluid is leaking out of your gearbox, you may be in for a nasty surprise down the line. If you have any problems with gear selection, have it checked immediately.


While driving, you notice hot air and steam rising from your engine. You stop and notice that the engine is very hot. What should you NOT do?

If you car has overheated, never open the radiator cap. The chances of hot water spurting out are high.


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