Education & Safety

5 Signs Your Engine Needs a Checkup

Is there a mechanic in the house?


When you’re feeling under the weather, you go to the doctor for an examination and a prescription for medication to make you feel better. It’s the same for your vehicle. When it’s running rough and acting sluggish, you know it’s time to get your vehicle to its doctor – your trusted mechanic – for an inspection.

Checkup or tune-up?


In years past, vehicles periodically needed a tune-up. Parts like carburetors, distributors, distributor caps and points all needed to be adjusted or replaced. But in modern vehicles manufactured since 1999, the use of computers to control everything from fuel delivery to ignition timing has taken away the need for a traditional tune-up.

Your vehicle still has important systems that need to be inspected to ensure they are in good working order. In a modern vehicle checkup or tune-up, your mechanic will take a close look at the ignition system, fuel injection system and emissions system for problems that could affect performance. Parts like spark plugs, spark plug wires, oxygen sensors, vacuum hoses, fuel filters and air filters may be replaced.

Read on to learn about five warning signs that can be early indicators of engine trouble.  If you notice your vehicle exhibiting any of the following symptoms, get your car to your mechanic for a checkup.


1.   Check engine light comes on

A check engine light that stays illuminated on your dashboard after starting your vehicle is an early sign of an issue. Problems can range in severity from a loose gas cap to an overheating engine. Your mechanic has the tools to read the diagnostic code and make the proper fix.

While tempting, don’t ignore any of the warning lights on your dashboard. These lights are an important first warning that there could be something wrong with your vehicle. Taking action when the light first comes on can mean the difference between catching something before it becomes a major problem and being stranded on the side of the road.


2.   Hard starts

If you are having trouble starting your vehicle on a regular basis, it is imperative that you get it checked out by your mechanic. This could be an indicator of a few problems like a failing battery, a broken timing belt, an issue with the starter or ignition system or a problem with the fuel system.

Don’t wait to have your mechanic look at this problem – there is nothing worse than wondering if your car will start every time you put the key in the ignition.


3.   Stalling

Not only is stalling a sign of engine trouble, it can leave you stuck in a precarious situation – especially if it happens in the middle of traffic or on a busy stretch of road. If your vehicle stalls when you are trying to accelerate or at other times, it can point to a failing fuel pump, a clogged fuel filter or even worn spark plugs.

Take note under what conditions your vehicle is stalling. Does it happen when you first start driving or while you are in stop and go traffic? The more details you can provide will help your mechanic pinpoint the problem.


4.   Rough idling or acceleration

Pay attention if your car is running rough while idling or accelerating. Another sign of potential engine trouble, this can indicate a problem with the spark plugs or spark plug wires. It can also point to a vacuum leak or dirty fuel injectors. A thorough inspection by a mechanic will yield a solution that gets your vehicle running smooth again.


5.   Reduced gas mileage

If you suddenly find yourself going to the gas station more often, it may be a sign of underlying engine problems. You might be experiencing trouble with the fuel injection system or have fouled or dirty spark plugs. A failing oxygen sensor may also be at fault. Your mechanic is equipped to make a proper diagnosis and fix.

Be sure to track your gas mileage – check out this article to learn how. By calculating your mileage before you start having issues, you’ll know for certain when it does become a problem.

Learn more about quality auto parts, find your car part, or find a local car repair shop today.

The content contained in this article is for entertainment and informational purposes only and should not be used in lieu of seeking professional advice from a certified technician or mechanic. We encourage you to consult with a certified technician or mechanic if you have specific questions or concerns relating to any of the topics covered herein. Under no circumstances will we be liable for any loss or damage caused by your reliance on any content.

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