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All Info About Auto Repair: Troubleshooting Engine Performance Problems Part 1
All Info About Auto Repairs
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Troubleshooting Engine Performance Problems Part 1

Find possible causes of engine problems by the symptoms your car is displaying.
» Part 1: Hesitation...
» Part 2: Hissing...
» Part 3: Tapping...
» Part 4: Rattling...
» Part 5: Smoking...
» Part 6: Overheats...
» Part 7: Fuel Usage...
» Part 8: Smells...
» Part 9: Surges...
» Part 10: Stalls...

There are many things that can effect engine performance. Todays cars are more complicated then they ever were. Electronic components and computers make them more fuel efficient, but they also make them more complicated and difficult to troubleshoot.

A lot of things that made an engine run bad twenty years ago, still hold true today. The electronics make the engine run, but under all those electronics the engine has basically remained the same. Before you try and troubleshoot any problem, you need to check the basics. The engine needs spark, fuel and air to operate and nine times out of ten, it's a simple and basic problem.

  • Engine hesitates:
    When you step on the gas, the engine seems to bog down or takes a second to respond. You may notice a general lack of power. You may notice the problem when the engine is hot or cold or when you are low on fuel.

    Possible causes:
    1. You may have a dirty air filter: Replace the air filter.

    2. The spark plugs may be dirty or worn: Clean and regap spark plugs. Replace spark plugs.

    3. The ignition wires may be bad: Replace ignition wires.

    4. There may be some other type of ignition problem: Check distributor cap or rotor. Ignition module may be bad.

    5. You may have water in the gasoline: Drain the gas tank and flushed with fresh gas and refill. (Generally not a DIY job)


    6. If you have a carburetor, you may have a bad accelerator pump or power circuit: Replace accelerator pump or replace carburetor.

    7. The fuel filter may be clogged: Replace fuel filter.

    8. Your catalytic converter may be clogged: Replace catalytic converter.


  • The engine surges or misfires while moving:
    The engine seems to start fine and will normally accelerate fine. As you are driving and maintaining a steady speed, the engine seems to "speed up" slightly or it seems to miss and buck.

    Possible causes:
    1. If you have a carburetor, the choke may not be set properly, or the choke may not be working correctly: Check the choke plate and make sure it is opening completely.

    2. The engine may be running too hot: Check and repair cooling system.

    3. The fuel pressure regulator may be operating at too low of a pressure: Check fuel pressure with a fuel pressure gauge. Replace fuel pressure regulator. (Generally not a DIY job)

    4. The ignition timing may be set wrong: Adjust ignition timing.

    5. There may be some type of ignition problem: Check and replace distributor cap, rotor, ignition wires and spark plugs.

    6. There may be a fault in the computerized engine control system: Check engine control systems with a scan tool. Test circuits and repair or replace components as required. (Generally not a DIY job)

    7. The fuel filter may be partially clogged: Replace the fuel filter.

    8. The torque converter in the transmission may not be locking at the right time, or it may be slipping: Check lock up circuit or replace torque converter. (Not a DIY job)

    9. There may be a vacuum leak: Check and replace vacuum lines as required.

    10. The engine may have mechanical problems: Check compression to determine engine condition.

    11. The EGR valve may be stuck open: Replace EGR valve.

    12. The drive axles may be loose or worn: Check and replace CV/universal joints as required.

    13. The fuel injectors may be dirty: Clean or replace fuel injectors.

    Part 1       » Part 2       » Part 3       » Part 4
    Part 5       » Part 6       » Part 7       » Part 8
    Part 9       » Part 10
    Additional Information provided courtesy of
    ALLDATAdiy.com and Warranty Direct
    © 2000-2007 Vincent T. Ciulla

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