Basic Car Engine Troubleshooting

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    Engine Fails To Start

    • If the engine fails to start, the first thing to consider is a dead battery. If jump starting the car does not fix your problem, check the battery cables for a loose connection or corrosion. The second most obvious thing to check when your car won't start is the fuel level. Very low levels of fuel will cause a car not to start, just as an empty tank will.

    What The Warning Lights Mean

    • Most cars are equipped with a series of warning lights that alert owners to possible mechanical failure. If your "oil" light comes on, check the oil level in your car. If it's okay, check the consistency, smell and color of the oil. Very black oil or oil that smells like gas needs to be changed. If your "brake" light comes on, check your brake fluid levels first. If your "Check Engine" light comes on, take the car to a reputable mechanic to have the problem professionally diagnosed.

    Noises That Sound Like Trouble

    • If you hear a squealing or grinding noise when you apply the brakes, your brake pads or rotors likely need to be changed. If your engine "knocks" or "pings" when going up an incline, you may need a higher grade of gasoline. If your car shakes or makes "bumping" noises when driving, check the air pressure in the tires. Also check the tires for obvious signs of wear.

    Smells That Indicate A Problem

    • If you smell a burning rubber smell, sometimes preceded by a squealing sound, check under the hood to see if one of your belts broke. If you smell gasoline, there may be a problem with your fuel filter being clogged. Or it could be a leak within the fuel system. If you smell exhaust fumes, your car may have an issue within its emission systems.

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