Diagnosing Engine Problems
Written by Lee Wyatt (last updated May 15, 2012)
Have you ever noticed just how embarrassing it can be to try and describe some kind of engine or car problem to your mechanic? While you can always go on with your hand waving, making funky noises, and constantly thinking that everyone is secretly laughing at you, or you can learn how to tell exactly what the problem is. Diagnosing engine problems isn't all that difficult as long as you know what to look for.
- Start big. When diagnosing engine problems, you need to start big, and work your way down. What exactly are the problem signs that are presenting themselves? For example is the engine simply not starting? Having trouble starting, shutting off slowly, dying after running for a little while, or the car using too much oil?
- Go smaller. By identifying what the main symptoms of the troubles are, you can then begin isolating the cause. Most often the symptoms will tell you in which direction the problem lies. For example, if your car has a tendency to overheat then you may want to look into your coolant system. Another example is that when a vehicle doesn't start up, you may want to look at the electrical system.
- Smaller still. With the system (and potential problem area) identified, you can begin looking closer still. What this means is that you need to do a little research into that system. When looking into the system, try and figure out what the part that is the most likely to experience some problems. For example, in many systems that move fluids around the vehicle usually will experience some difficulties with the pump.
- Check the system. Starting with the most accident prone part, begin checking the system part by part. Test each individual piece until you have finally identified where the problem really lies.
- Repair or replace. When you find out what the real problem is you need to handle it. This means that you can either do the repairs or replacing yourself, or you can hire a mechanic to do the work for you. There are benefits, and drawbacks, to both. For example if you do the work yourself, you can often greatly reduce the amount of money that you spend on the repair process. The drawback to this would be that you would have no guarantee to the work being done. If any problems arise, you will need to handle it or have someone else do that for you—either way you will end up spending more money.