Mechanic repairing car engine.

Modern car engines are designed to last 150,000 to 200,000 miles or ten years, whichever comes first. However, sometimes you start seeing red flags sooner.

Warning Signs from the Engine

Unfortunately, you could see signs of engine trouble well before either of those milestones. Here are some common engine problems many of us may face over time.

Engine Won’t Start

We’ve all heard it- the dreaded “tick tick tick” of an engine that won’t start when you turn the key in the ignition. Or, maybe even worse, the deafening silence of a completely dead battery. Sometimes, though, the battery isn’t to blame. At Master Muffler, we see a number of reasons for engines not starting.

Reasons Your Engine Won’t Start 

Dead Battery

If you hear nothing when you turn your key, you probably have a dead battery. Recruit another vehicle and give it some juice via jumper cables. Keep the engine running and head to purchase a replacement battery asap to avoid getting stuck with a dead car throughout the day.

Alternator is Shot

The alternator is responsible for storing energy, so if it or the battery is almost dead but not quite, you may hear optimistic sounds when you attempt to start your vehicle. You need an alternator to convert chemical and mechanical energy (created by the air+fuel mixture in the engine) to electrical energy to power various systems in the car. You could have a good battery but a bad alternator.

Faulty Ignition System

If there’s a problem with the ignition switch, you might be unable to turn your key in the steering column. Or, your key will turn but the engine won’t make a sound. Sometimes ignition system failures result in your steering wheel locking or your car stalling.

Worn Spark Plugs

These little guys work hard, and they’re prone to wear. If they’re not igniting, you’re not going anywhere. Spark plugs are responsible for igniting the air-fuel mixture in your engine and keeping your car running. If your vehicle is having trouble accelerating, it could be due to faulty spark plugs.


Having a leak in your engine is never a good sign. If you spot a puddle under your car, there could be a number of culprits.

  • Oil Leak – Dark brown or yellow
  • Transmission Fluid Leak – Red or brown
  • Brake Fluid Leak – Clear or light brown
  • Antifreeze Leak – Green, pink, or yellow
  • Power Steering Leak – Red or brown
  • Air Conditioning Leak – Clear, odorless

Reasons Your Engine is Leaking

Your vehicle’s fluids are necessary to lubricate and cool the engine, keep your brakes working, and improve the ease of steering. When something is leaking, sometimes it’s a big deal, and should be addressed immediately. Finding out the what and why can take some careful inspection under the hood.


If too much oil was poured into the reservoir, it can overflow and leave residue on the ground. If you’re not the only person driving your vehicle, check with others in your household to see if they’ve recently topped off a reservoir and could have potentially spilled or overfilled it. If that’s the case, you can avoid inconvenient or costly auto repair.

Loose Caps

Another simple fix is a loose cap on the oil, coolant, or transmission reservoirs. These fluids can pool on the engine, or under the car if the cap isn’t threaded tightly.

Broken Gaskets 

If you have a cracked gasket, fluids from the engine can find their way out.

Old Filter 

If your oil filter has run its course, your engine could start leaking oil. Oil filters are designed to last a few thousand miles, so be sure you’re regularly changing them out.


There are filters and systems in your engine that can clog, preventing your engine from performing at its best. Some of these auto repairs are easier than others, such as switching out an air filter for a clean one.

Your radiator can also clog if you’re not using the right coolant. Additionally, motor oil with the wrong viscosity can cause build-up in your engine. A flush of either system can help remove debris or engine sludge and get things flowing freely and efficiently once again.

Too Much Heat

Whether due to a leak or a clog, you might see smoke plumes emitting from under the hood of your vehicle. If you find yourself in this predicament, turn off your engine as soon as possible and call for assistance. To avoid overheating, schedule regular engine tune-ups to ensure your car has enough oil and coolant to deal with the extreme temperatures generated by the engine.

Timing is Everything

If any timing belts, chains, or sensors are malfunctioning, you could be headed down the road to engine trouble. Common problems are faulty oxygen sensors, worn timing chains, and imbalanced bearings. You may start to notice a lack of acceleration power, or lights on the dashboard to alert you of these issues. 

If you see any of these red flags from your engine, don’t waste time scheduling car repair with Master Muffler.

Categories: Automotive Info

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