Since the engine is one of the most expensive parts of the car, you should be on the lookout for signs of engine failure so you can fix it before the engine suffers catastrophic failure. Here are four signs that mean something is seriously wrong with your engine, and it can fail at any time:
There Are Metal Flakes in the Engine Oil
You know your engine is extremely damaged or worn out if there are metal flakes or shavings in the engine oil. You may notice these flakes, for example, when changing your engine oil. The flakes come from extreme friction between the metallic parts of the engine. Unfortunately, the flakes produce also contribute to increased internal wear. If you delay fixing the problem, the engine may experience sudden catastrophic failure and even leave you stranded by the roadside.
Knocking Sounds from the Engine
Engine knocks are knocking sounds originating from deep within the engine. You will know an engine knock when you hear it because it is different from the normal clanking sounds under the hood. Engine knock is also called detonation or pinging. It occurs when the ratio of air to fuel is incorrect causing the fuel to burn unevenly. The knocking sounds are made by burning pockets of fuel that cause shockwaves at inappropriate times of the combustion cycle. The shockwaves cause serious damage to engine cylinder walls and pistons.
Colored smoke from the tailpipe usually points to a problem with the engine. The smoke's color is a rough indication of the seriousness of the problem. For example, sooty smoke may mean the engine is burning too much fuel or the fuel filters are clogged. Thick white smoke, on the other hand, usually points to an engine burning coolant, something that can lead to overheating and engine failure if not promptly rectified.
Sudden and Major Loss in Engine Power
Due to normal wear and tear, all engines lose power as they age. However, this loss of power is gradual and may be hardly noticeable in its early days. Therefore, a sudden loss is engine power may signal a major problem with the engine; it may indicate failure of a major component. For example, damaged piston rings result in low compression, which causes loss of power.
Consult your mechanic as soon as you notice any of these signs. A thorough inspection of the engine will diagnose the problem and, hopefully, you will correct it before it results in total engine failure.