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Recognizing Signs Of Vehicle Engine Damage

When a dash warning light come on, we hold our breath as the thought of an expensive bills flashes through our minds. As a car owner, preventive engine maintenance is one of the most important things to keep your vehicle healthy and your wallet happy. Although it’s not always black and white when it comes to our finely tuned machines, technicians at Milex Complete Auto Care / Mr. Transmission share some of the more obvious signs that your vehicle may be experiencing engine damage.

Check Engine Light

You may be patiently waiting in the carpool line when an immediate anxious moment hits; your check engine light illuminates. We all know that dreadful feeling and we can only hope the light is informing us of a something simple like a loose gas cap. As unnerving as it may be, an illuminated check engine light is a useful tool to inform you of potential engine trouble. Although issues may range in severity, it is always a good idea to have your vehicle checked out by an Auto Service Technician. We all know the parts stores will read codes for you, but their scan tool may not tell the whole picture. It’s best to have an Auto Service Technician with the advanced diagnostic scanner pull the codes. Just know that not all codes that are stored in the vehicle’s computer set off the Check Engine Light, but those hidden codes may be integral to determining what is wrong.

Jumpy, Jerky Driving
Other than aggravating potholes, driving your vehicle should be a relatively smooth operation. If your vehicle often jumps, jerks, hitches or stalls, it could be a sign of an engine ignition system trouble. The ignition system delivers gas, air and spark to each cylinder. This system is made up of many parts that must work together for smooth engine performance. Many of the issues with the ignition system will not cause your Check Engine Light to come on, but may be stored in the engine’s computer. You can continue to drive your car with these ignition issues. But it does not come without a price. Poor combustion for whatever reason will cause your catalytic converters to age rapidly. So, if you feel jumps, jerks, hitches or stalls with your vehicle get over to Milex Complete Auto Care / Mr. Transmission to have them determine if you have a problem.

Smoke Show
If your engine is producing an excessive amount of smoke, whether white or black, it is most likely a sign of engine trouble. Smoke coming from your vehicle can be caused by everything from an older engine that is burning oil to a blown head gasket. Smoke can even be the result of an engine air filter that is way overdue for replacement.  However, don’t mistake steam for smoke. In the cooler months your car will produce steam from the exhaust until the engine get up to operating temperature. You are probably wondering where the water comes from. How it works is the hot exhaust gases hit the cold exhaust system and condensation occurs. Just like cold glass of lemonade on a summer day. Modern vehicles don’t produce smoke, so if you are seeing smoke get it checked out.

What’s that Sound?
From the squeal when you start your vehicle to tapping noises when you are sitting still. Most car owners are quite familiar with their vehicle’s day-to-day noises. Although vehicles sometimes have a mind of their own, it’s important to listen for abnormal rattling, screeching, knocking, tapping and hissing. New questionable sounds can be a tell-tale signs of potential engine damage.

Strange Odors
Much like odd sounds, strange smells coming from your vehicle may be a cry for attention. Forget the dirty dog smell or the stench from leftover fast food, focus on particular odors such as rotten eggs, gasoline, burnt rubber, hot oil, or even sweet syrup. You will want to have an Auto Service Technician inspect your vehicle if it doesn’t pass the sniff test!


When your vehicle is presenting any of these conditions or symptoms, it is important to note when it is happening. Does it happen upon start-up or when the engine is warm? Does it happen under acceleration or when sitting still?  Does it happen a particular speed or RPM? Now you have information that the trusted professionals at Milex Complete Auto Care / Mr. Transmission can use to help identify what might be causing the issue, so that you can continue to drive safely. And, of course, we also recommend that you stop in periodically for routine automotive service so that you prevent any issues and avoid nerve-racking moments on the road!


Mr. Transmission - Milex Complete Auto Care - Cary #585 is committed to ensuring effective communication and digital accessibility to all users. We are continually improving the user experience for everyone, and apply the relevant accessibility standards to achieve these goals. We welcome your feedback. Please call Mr. Transmission - Milex Complete Auto Care - Cary #585 (919) 465-4488 if you have any issues in accessing any area of our website.