Engine failure, especially out of the blue, can be scary. It can put a wrench in your plans if driving somewhere important and depending on the problem, can be expensive to fix. Thankfully, there are lots of warning signs that can signal you when your engine is about to fail.

If your vehicle begins to consistently act up to the point that it isn’t starting or driving reliably, you may need to look into the prospect that the engine is failing. in some way and get it checked as soon as possible.

It is good to know how to recognize whether your engine is failing, and may be useful to you and the mechanic at your local Salt Lake City auto repair shop if you have an idea of where the problem is coming from. That way you can both get the problem fixed quickly. Here are some ways to find out if your engine is showing signs of failure.

7 Signs of a Failing Engine

(Ryno Marais/Unsplash)

1. Check Engine Light

This light is the most obvious clue. It is usually located behind the steering column. When the check engine light turns on, it communicates that you could have any of a range of problems, including engine problems. If the light blinks you may want to be more concerned. Regardless of how the problem presents itself, though, you will want to get it checked immediately as this will quickly diagnose the problem along with other possible trouble.

When you take your vehicle in, you can have your mechanic run a diagnostic test using OBD II scanners, which will read the sensors associated with the vehicle’s computer system. This will help you understand where the problem is coming from.

2. Constant Overheating

If the engine is overheating often then it is about time that you get it checked. Running on an overheated engine will cause lots of problems, including a warped cylinder causing coolant to leak. This can cause white exhaust smoke, another sign that you may want to look into.

3. Decreasing Fuel Economy

If your vehicle suddenly begins to consume way more fuel than usual then this could point to faulty engine problems. While it could be pointing to a separate problem, if it’s occurring while the check engine light is on or you notice other symptoms listed here, it may be a problem with the engine. You need to get it checked as soon as possible.

4. Loss of Power

Gas-powered vehicles convert gasoline into power using four separate strokes in a combustion cycle within the internal combustion engine. Moving through these strokes makes the vehicle move. If you can feel a significant loss in power when your vehicle runs there could be an interruption in one of these strokes during the combustion process.

5. Engine Stalling

If your engine keeps stalling while your vehicle is in idle, then you may be looking at engine failure. If your vehicle is in idle and you have to turn your vehicle on again, it could mean there’s a problem with the fuel delivery. If this happens often, get your engine checked.

6. Rough Idle

Rough idle occurs when your vehicle is in idle – for instance at a stop light – and you feel your vehicle shake or vibrate, even without accelerating yet. This means that your engine is not running at a consistent RPM. This is a major issue. If your car has a rough idle, schedule an appointment at a Sugar House or West Jordan auto repair technician.

7. Excessive Noises and Vibrations

Some noises that a faulty engine will cause are backfiring, hissing, popping, and knocking. These sounds could mean problems inside the combustion flow. Engine knocking, for instance, happens when there are pockets of burning air-fuel mixtures that burn on their own instead of being caused by a spark plug. It can sound like there’s a knocking sound coming out of the engine and can cause a lot of costly damage to the engine if left unchecked.

If you notice excessive vibrations in the engine, then there may be a problem with a faulty spark plug. Faulty spark plugs will make the engine misfire and cause vibrations. This can be fixed by replacing the spark plug but could lead to additional engine damage if left unchecked.

No one wants to deal with the surprise of engine failure, especially if in the middle of doing something important. There are both minor and major ways in which your vehicle will let you know that the engine needs some work to get back into its best working order. The easiest way to know what your engine needs doing is to pay attention to your check engine light, and then run a diagnostic test to figure out exactly where the problem is. Otherwise, these are a few other ways to alert you that you need to get your engine checked.


If you don’t want to worry about your car unexpectedly shutting down in the middle of a journey, it’s important to be mindful of the symptoms of engine failure. Here is an infographic that provides insight into some crucial warning signs associated with an ailing motor so that you can prepare for what lies ahead. Please take your time. Equip yourself and stay ahead.

7 Signs of a Failing Engine Infographic


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