Ellesmere Port Engine Centre Ltd Diagnose your Car


Frequently Asked Questions

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    Do You Need a Compression Test?

    Your car’s engine compression can tell you a lot about the overall health of the engine. If your car is blowing blue smoke out of the tailpipe, or if your car is losing lots of oil, you could have a bad piston ring. This will also cause low compression in that cylinder, and a compression test will tell you. The same goes for a bad valve. Even if you are just noticing a general lack of power, a compression test can help you rule out some of the more serious possible causes.

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    Troubleshooting Problems With Engine Idle

    In many ways, engine idle is a good measure of your engine’s health. If anything is going wrong under the hood, there’s a good chance it will be affecting your car’s idle speed and quality. Problems with idle speed, things like slow idle, low idle, bad idle, lumpy idle, fast idle — these are symptoms that should be investigated, troubleshooted, diagnosed and repaired. The following symptoms and related problems should act as a guide in helping you troubleshoot your idle issues.

    Symptom: The engine will not idle smoothly, or it stalls during idle when the engine is cold. When the engine is cold and you take your foot off the gas pedal, the engine runs very rough and may even stall. When you run the engine at higher speeds, it seems to run fine.
    Possible causes:
    1. If you have a carburetor, you may have a bad accelerator pump or power circuit.
    The Fix: Replace accelerator pump or replace carburetor.
    2. There may be a vacuum leak.
    The Fix: Check and replace vacuum lines as required.
    3. There may be some type of ignition problem.
    The Fix: Check and replace distributor cap, rotor, ignition wires and spark plugs.
    4. The ignition timing may be set wrong.
    The Fix: Adjust ignition timing.
    5. There may be a fault in the computerized engine control system.
    The Fix: Check engine control systems with a scan tool. Test circuits and repair or replace components as required. (Generally not a DIY job)
    6. The EGR valve may be bad.
    The Fix: Replace EGR valve.
    7. The engine may have mechanical problems.
    The Fix: Check compression to determine engine condition.
    8. Idle speed set incorrectly.
    The Fix: Set idle speed to specs.
    9. The fuel injectors may be dirty.
    The Fix: Clean or replace fuel injectors.

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    Symptom: The engine will not idle smoothly, or it stalls during idle when the engine is warm. When the engine is warm or hot and you take your foot off the gas pedal, the engine runs very rough and may even stall. When you run the engine at higher speeds, it seems to run fine.
    Possible causes:
    1. If you have a carburetor (gramps), you may have a bad accelerator pump or power circuit.
    The Fix: Replace accelerator pump or replace carburetor.
    2. There may be a vacuum leak.
    The Fix: Check and replace vacuum lines as required.
    3. The fuel pressure regulator may be operating at too low a pressure.
    The Fix: Check fuel pressure with a fuel pressure gauge. Replace fuel pressure regulator. (Generally not a DIY job)
    4. Idle speed set incorrectly.
    The Fix: Set idle speed to specs.
    5. There may be some type of ignition problem.
    The Fix: Check and replace distributor cap, rotor, ignition wires and spark plugs.
    6. There may be a fault in the computerized engine control system.
    The Fix: Check engine control systems with a scan tool. Test circuits and repair or replace components as required. (Generally not a DIY job)
    7. The EGR valve may be bad.
    The Fix: Replace EGR valve.
    8. The engine may have mechanical problems.
    The Fix: Check compression to determine engine condition.
    9. The fuel injectors may be dirty.
    The Fix: Clean or replace fuel injectors.

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    Symptom: The engine idles too fast. After the engine has run long enough to be warm, the idle speed does not come down to normal. You really notice it when you come to a stop and must have to push hard on the brake pedal to keep the car from moving.
    Possible causes:
    1. If you have a carburetor, you may have a bad accelerator pump or power circuit.
    The Fix: Replace accelerator pump or replace carburetor.
    2. The engine may be overheating.
    The Fix: Check and repair cooling system.
    3. The fuel pressure regulator may be operating at too low a pressure.
    The Fix: 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.
    The Fix: Adjust ignition timing.
    5. There may be some type of ignition problem.
    The Fix: Check and replace distributor cap, rotor, ignition wires and spark plugs.
    6. There may be a fault in the computerized engine control system.
    The Fix: Check engine control systems with a scan tool. Test circuits and repair or replace components as required. (Generally not a DIY job)
    7. There may be a vacuum leak.
    The Fix: Check and replace vacuum lines as required.
    8. You have a bad idle speed control unit.
    The Fix: Replace idle speed control unit.
    9. The alternator may not be working properly.
    The Fix: Replace alternator.

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    Symptom: Car stalls when stopped quickly. You are driving along and everything is just fine … until you let off the gas pedal and apply the brakes. The engine starts shaking and may even stall. Not a good thing to happen because you lose power steering when the engine dies.
    Possible causes:
    1. There may be a serious vacuum leak.
    The Fix: Check and replace vacuum lines as required.
    2. There may be a fault in the computerized engine control system.
    The Fix: Check engine control systems with a scan tool. Test circuits and repair or replace components as required. (Generally not a DIY job)
    3. Broken linkage.
    The Fix: Repair or replace as required.

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    Repairing Your Overheating Engine

    When the weather is warm, we rely on our car’s cooling system to keep temperatures in the engine compartment under control, and keep us on the road. Your cooling system is a series of components that circulate coolant through the engine to absorb heat, then circulate air around the coolant to get it out. If any part of the system stops working, you’re on the side of the road while your engine takes a steam bath.
    The best medicine is preventive. You should flush your radiator on schedule to keep the system clean and well flowing. Unfortunately we aren’t always lucky, and things go wrong. Let us help you figure out why your car or truck is running hot or overheating.
    if your engine is overheating shortly after you leave, or it heats up even on short trips, you should check the following possible causes and repair suggestions.

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    Symptom: Engine quickly overheats. Engine runs fine but gets very hot shortly after you start it. This problem usually occurs after only five minutes of running or after traveling about a mile. You may or may not notice steam coming from the hood or smell coolant.
    Possible causes:
    1. Engine coolant level may be very low.
    The Fix: Refill coolant to proper level.
    2. Engine’s drive belts may be broken or slipping.
    The Fix: Tighten or replace belts.
    3. The electric cooling fan may not be coming on.
    The Fix: Repair or replace cooling fan. Repair wiring. Replace cooling fan temp sensor.
    4. The ignition timing may be set wrong.
    The Fix: Adjust ignition timing.
    5. There may be a vacuum leak.
    The Fix: Check and replace vacuum lines as required.
    6. The engine may have mechanical problems.
    The Fix: Check compression to determine engine condition.
    7. The engine’s thermostat may be stuck closed.
    The Fix: Replace thermostat.
    8. There may be a leak in the cooling system.
    The Fix: Repair leak and refill coolant. Cylinder head gasket(s) may be bad.
    The Fix: Replace cylinder head gasket(s).

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    Troubleshooting Engine Oil Consumption

    Is your oil level low between oil changes? If your car’s engine is operating as it should, there will be no need to add oil. Unfortunately older engines rarely enjoy this luxury. As the engine wears, oil makes its escape. A little oil added now and then is nothing to worry about, but if you’re adding a quart or more between oil changes, you may have a fixable problem in there. Your engine may be burning oil thanks to worn piston rings. Your engine could also be leaking oil thanks to a bad gasket or cracked part. Or you could be losing oil through the head gasket into the cooling system. This can be an expensive repair.

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    No Smoke in Exhaust
    Car using oil, but no smoke in the exhaust

    Symptom: The car uses more oil than normal, but there is no trace of smoke from the exhaust. The oil level is low between oil changes. You never noticed it before and it doesn’t appear that the oil is being burned by the engine. There is not a trace of smoke in the exhaust.
    Possible causes:
    1. The PCV system is not working properly.
    The Fix: Replace PCV valve.
    2. The engine may have mechanical problems.
    The Fix: Check compression to determine engine condition.
    3. The engine’s valve seals may be worn.
    The Fix: Replace valve seals. (Generally not a DIY job)
    4. The engine’s gaskets and seals may be damaged.
    The Fix: Replace gaskets and seals as required.

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    Coolant Brown and Foamy
    Your coolant is brown in color and foamy like root beer

    Symptom: Engine is using more oil than normal. Coolant appears brownish and foamy. Your car seems to be losing oil someplace, but there aren’t any obvious leaks, and no smoke from the exhaust. You check your coolant and it looks like foamy root beer
    Possible Causes:
    1. Blown head gasket.
    The Fix: Replace head gasket.
    2. Cracked cylinder head.
    The Fix: Remove and repair head, or replace cylinder head with new part.
    3. Leaking oil-to-water cooler.
    The Fix: Repair or replace oil cooler.

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    Oil Puddles or Drips Under Car
    You find oil underneath the car where it’s parked

    Symptom: Engine is using more oil than normal. Oil puddles under the car when parked. The oil level is low between oil changes. You see puddles of oil under the car. Obviously you have an oil leaks. You may or may not see smoke or smell oil burning when you stop at a light, stop sign. or park the car. You should make sure the engine always has the proper oil level.
    Possible causes:
    1. The PCV system is not working properly.
    The Fix: Replace PCV valve. Check and repair PCV system as required.
    2. The engine’s gaskets and seals may be damaged.
    The Fix: Replace gaskets and seals as required.
    3. Oil filter may not be tightened properly.
    The Fix: Tighten or replace oil filter.

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    Smoke in Exhaust
    Engine using oil and there is smoke in your exhaust

    Symptom: Engine uses more oil than normal, and there is some smoke from the exhaust. The oil level is low between oil changes. It appears that the oil is being burned by the engine because of the smoke in the exhaust. You may or may not notice the engine doesn’t have the same power as it used to.
    Possible causes:
    1. The PCV system is not working properly.
    The Fix: Replace PCV valve.
    2. The engine may have mechanical problems.
    The Fix: Check compression to determine engine condition.
    3. The engine’s piston rings may be worn.
    The Fix: Replace piston rings. (Generally not a DIY job)
    4. The engine’s valve seals may be worn.
    The Fix: Replace valve seals. (Generally not a DIY job)

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    Troubleshooting Engine Problems By Sound
    My Engine Sounds Like …
    There is a lot that can be learned by listening to your engine. Is it telling you something important or is it just rambling on with nothing to say? If your car starts to change its tune, you should give it a listen. Nobody knows your engine better than you do. If it starts to sound odd, or even a little different, there could be a problem. If you catch these types of problems early enough you can avoid a lot of time at the repair shop later, not to mention the money!

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    Hissing Sounds
    Hissing Sounds Coming From Your Engine
    Symptom:A hissing sound is heard from the engine. The engine may or may not seem to run well. A hissing noise like air or steam can be heard coming from the engine. A performance drop may be noticed immediately after the noise begins.
    Possible causes:
    1. The engine is overheating.
    The Fix: Check and repair cooling system.
    2. The exhaust system and/or catalytic converter is plugged.
    The Fix: Check and replace exhaust system and/or catalytic converter as required.
    3. A vacuum line is leaking or disconnected.
    The Fix: Reconnect vacuum line. Replace vacuum lines if broken.
    4. A vacuum device is leaking.
    The Fix: Replace vacuum device.

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    Whirring Sounds
    Whirring Sounds Coming From Under the Hood
    Symptom: Whirring from the engine that gets worse as engine speed increases. Any noise that increases or decreases with engine rpm.
    Possible causes:
    1. Low power steering fluid.
    The Fix: Check and fill power steering fluid.
    2. The alternator bearings are bad.
    The Fix: Replace alternator.
    3. A bad water pump.
    The Fix: Replace water pump.
    4. Bad power steering pump.
    The Fix: Replace power steering pump.
    5. A bad air conditioning compressor.
    The Fix: Replace air conditioning compressor. (Not a DIY job)

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    Loud Exhaust or Backfiring
    Exhaust is Abnormally Loud or Engine Backfires Loudly
    The Symptom: Loud exhaust. There is a loud exhaust noise which may be coming from either the front or rear of the vehicle.
    Possible causes:
    1. Muffler or exhaust pipe worn out.
    The Fix: Replace muffler and/or pipes as required.
    2. Exhaust manifold cracked or broken.
    The Fix: Replace exhaust manifold.
    The Symptom: Engine backfires when you press on the gas pedal. The engine runs like garbage. When you step on the gas the engine pops , spits and backfires. Sometimes it’s loud or not so loud. This can cause severe engine damage and/or under hood fire.
    Possible causes:
    1. Your camshaft timing belt or chain may have slipped.
    The Fix: Replace timing belt or chain.
    2. Your ignition timing needs adjusting.
    The Fix: Adjust ignition timing.
    3. There is a serious engine problem. You may have a burnt or broken valve, Worn or broken camshaft.
    4. Your spark plug wires are placed on the wrong spark plugs.
    The Fix: Check firing order and place the wires on the correct spark plugs.

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    Popping and Hesitating
    Engine Makes Popping Sounds and Hesitates or Lags

    the Symptom: Engine hesitates, and a popping is heard from the engine. 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. The popping noise really tells you something is not right.
    Possible causes:
    1. You may have a dirty air filter.
    The Fix: Replace the air filter.
    2. The ignition wires may be bad.
    The Fix: Replace ignition wires.
    3. There may be some other type of ignition problem.
    The Fix: Check distributor cap or rotor. Ignition module may be bad.
    4. Internal engine problem.
    The Fix: Check compression to determine engine condition

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    symptom: 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 (there are still a few out there), the choke may not be set properly, or the choke may not be working correctly.
    The fix: Check the choke plate and make sure it is opening completely.
    2. The engine may be running too hot.
    The fix: Check and repair cooling system.
    3. The fuel pressure regulator may be operating at low pressure.
    The fix: 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.
    The fix: Adjust ignition timing.
    5. Ignition system problem.
    The fix: 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.
    The fix: Replace the fuel filter.
    8. Torque converter (automatic transmission only) may not be locking at the right time, or it may be slipping.
    The fix: Check lock up circuit or replace torque converter. (Not a DIY job)
    9. There may be a vacuum leak.
    The fix: Check and replace vacuum lines as required.
    10. Possible internal engine problems.
    The fix: Check compression to determine engine condition.
    11. EGR valve may be stuck open.
    The fix: Replace EGR valve.
    12. Drive axles may be loose or worn.
    The fix: Check and replace CV/universal joints as required.
    13. The fuel injectors may be dirty.
    The fix: Clean or replace fuel injectors.

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