When a car problem occurs, the first step is to trouble shoot the related system. Then, perform simple tests that can lead you to the cause of the malfunction and the repairs needed to correct the problem. Follow the "first thing to check" list and test by symptoms how to test for a problem, then execute the proper repair.

Detecting an Engine Problem

  • Try and detect the problem - is the car not starting, running roughly, conking out, or using too much petrol?
  • After you have detected it, isolate the system most likely to be its cause. If it is conking out, the fuel system may be at fault. If it is not starting, the electrical system may be worth looking at first. If the car is overheating, check the cooling system.
  • Check each successive part in the system until the problem is solved.
  • Get the broken part replaced or repaired. Consult your car's manual for other specific problems you might be facing. This will help to speed up diagnosis.


The more you know about your vehicle, the more likely you'll be able to head off repair problems. You can detect many common vehicle problems by using your senses: eyeballing the area around your vehicle, listening for strange noises, sensing a difference in the way your vehicle handles, or even noticing unusual odors. Sometimes just understanding how engine components work can help diagnose a problem. See the engine components list below.

Engine Performance Tips:

Increase displacement - More displacement means more power because you can burn more gas during each revolution of the Car engine. You can increase displacement by making the cylinders bigger or by adding more cylinders. 12 cylinders seems to be the practical limit. 

Increase the compression ratio - Higher compression ratios produce more power, up to a point. The more you compress the air/fuel mixture, however, the more likely it is to spontaneously burst into flame (prior to the spark plug igniting it). Higher octane gasoline prevent this sort of early combustion. That is why high-performance cars generally need high octane gasoline - their engines are using higher compression ratios to get more power. 

Stuff more into each cylinder - If you can cram more air (and therefore fuel) into a cylinder of a given size, you can get more power from the cylinder (in the same way that you would by increasing the size of the cylinder). Turbo chargers and super chargers pressurize the incoming air to effectively cram more air into a cylinder.

Cool the incoming air - Compressing air raises its temperature. You would like to have the coolest air possible in the cylinder because the hotter the air is the less it will expand when combustion takes place. Therefore many turbo charged and super charged cars have an inter cooler. An inter cooler is a special radiator through which the compressed air passes to cool it off before it enters the cylinder. 

Let air come in more easily - As a piston moves down in the intake stroke, air resistance can rob power from the car engine. Air resistance can be lessened dramatically by putting two intake valves in each cylinder. Some newer cars are also using polished intake manifolds to eliminate air resistance there. Bigger air filters can also improve air flow.

Let exhaust exit more easily - If air resistance makes it hard for exhaust to exit a cylinder, it robs the engine of power. Air resistance can be lessened by adding a second exhaust valve to each cylinder (a car with 2 intake and 2 exhaust values has 4 valves per cylinder, which improves performance - when you hear a car ad tell you the car has 4 cylinders and 16 valves, what the ad is saying is that the engine has four valves per cylinder). If the exhaust pipe is too small or the muffler has a lot of air resistance then this can cause back-pressure which has the same effect. High-performance exhaust systems use headers, big tail pipes and free-flowing mufflers to eliminate back-pressure in the exhaust system. When you hear that a car has "Dual Exhaust", the goal is to improve the flow of exhaust by having two exhaust pipes instead of one. 

Make everything lighter - Lightweight parts help the car engine perform better. Each time a piston changes direction it uses up energy to stop the travel in one direction and start it in another. The lighter the piston, the less energy it takes. 

Inject the fuel - Fuel injection allows very precise metering of fuel to each cylinder. This improves performance and fuel economy.

For Vehicle Specific Car Engine Repair Procedures, Get the entire Auto Repair Manuals. You can gain full on-line access to the same software that the dealers use for just $19.95 that cover repair of your entire vehicle. You can see step by step procedures on engine repair and more. Check it out.

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