Automotive Engine Failure – Common Warning Signs – Major Causes

Automotive Engine Failure - Common Warning Signs - Major Causes
Automotive Engine Failure - Common Warning Signs - Major Causes

Automotive Engine Failure is usually one of the last components that will fail in your vehicle.

Still, automotive engine failure does happen – but there are ways that you can mitigate the damage.

Consequently, there are a lot of potential causes for automotive engine failure; but some—like overheating, poor lubrication and detonation—are more common than others.

So, A good place to start your postmortem is to review the circumstances that preceded the failure. Because an engine runs incredibly hot; it relies on a complex system to cool it.

Automotive Engine Failure
Automotive Engine Failure

However, these systems themselves may fail without you realizing; allowing the engine’s condition to deteriorate. So, Coolant leaks and malfunctioning fans are common contributing factors.

Also, Lubrication issues arise from not changing the oil often enough; regular wear and tear; and faulty delivery systems. And, Detonation—which produces the telltale knocking sound coming from under the hood.

Some Of The More Common Warning Signs

The best way to watch out for automotive engine failure and avoid a massive auto repair bill is to:

  • Look for warning lights to flicker on
  • Listen for popping; knocking, or other unnatural sounds coming from your engine
  • Your engine producing foul scents or the distinct smell of burning or melting rubber
  • Feel for sudden jerks and shaking
  • If your car starts smoking

So, The Major Causes Of Automotive Engine Failure Can Be Lumped Into Three Basic

  • Overheating
  • Lubrication
  • Detonation

Engine Overheating

So, engine overheating can be caused by any number of things. It is often the result of coolant loss or a low coolant level; which is turn may be due to leaks in hoses; the radiator or the engine itself. Also, a weak radiator cap that leaks pressure can allow coolant to escape from the system.

Engine Overheating
Engine Overheating

Not getting the cooling system completely filled after changing the antifreeze; can allow steam pockets to form that make the engine overheat or run hot. An electric cooling fan that fails to come on due to a faulty thermostat; relay, wiring or motor may be an overlooked cause of overheating. So too can a slipping fan clutch. Finally, even a missing fan shroud that reduces the fan’s effectiveness may be a contributing factor.

Engine Lubrication

Every engine needs oil between its moving parts; not only to reduce friction but also to carry away heat. As a result, oil is the primary means by which the rod and main bearings are cooled.

Engine Lubrication
Engine Lubrication

So any reduction in oil flow may cause these parts to run hot; gall and seize.

Detonation And Spark Knock

Piston detonation (Spark Knock ) is a form of abnormal combustion; that results from too much heat and pressure in the combustion chamber. The fuel ignites spontaneously causing a sudden rise in cylinder pressure. The result is a sharp hammer-like blow on the piston that produces; a metallic knocking or pinging noise.

Detonation And Spark Knock
Detonation And Spark Knock

Light detonation is considered normal and should not cause any damage; but heavy or prolonged detonation can:

  • Crack rings
  • Pound out piston ring grooves
  • Punch holes through the tops of pistons
  • Smash rod bearings
  • Blow head gaskets


Finally, In general, poor maintenance may do more damage to your engine than almost anything else. Having regular maintenance could seem to be pricey; but it is also important to do to keep your car in good working order. If you want to get the most out of your car; then ensure that you keep up with getting routine oil changes and other various maintenance.

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