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What To Do When Your Car Engine Blows

As a seasoned mechanic, I’ve seen my fair share of engine failures, and the crucial steps to take are often misunderstood. When your car engine blows, the first thing to consider is the extent of the damage. A blown engine might make you think your vehicle is totaled, but that’s not always the case. It’s essential to bring your car to a trusted mechanic who can assess the damage accurately. Often, what seems like a catastrophic failure can be repaired. Don’t rush into selling or donating your car before knowing its worth.

Remember, regular engine service and maintenance are key to preventing such disasters. As vehicle owners, understanding the common causes of engine failure is crucial. The most prevalent issues include lubrication problems, like dirty or low oil, which can stem from an oil leak or a faulty oil pump. Other culprits are engine overheating, often due to a coolant leak from the radiator or hose, a bad thermostat, a malfunctioning electric cooling fan, or a failing water pump. In more severe cases, detonation occurs, leading to abnormal combustion, characterized by a knocking sound. This can be due to bad fuel, improper ignition timing, worn spark plugs, or a hot engine.

In any scenario, don’t delay in addressing these issues, as neglect can lead to costly engine repair or, worse, complete engine failure. Weigh your options, whether it’s more feasible to pay for a repair or, if the car is beyond saving, to extract as much value as possible through other means.

Signs And Symptoms Of Engine Damage

The Check Engine light turns on

When the Check Engine light illuminates on your dashboard, it’s a vital warning not to be dismissed. As someone who’s spent years around cars, I can tell you it’s your vehicle’s way of alerting you to potential problems. This light is part of the On-Board Diagnostics (OBD) system, a sophisticated network that monitors your car’s performance. Ignoring the CEL can lead to significant damage to your engine and other critical components. Common triggers for this light include a need for replacing the Oxygen Sensor or Mass-Airflow Sensor, damaged catalytic converter, worn spark plugs causing engine misfires, or even something as simple as a fuel cap not being tight enough. These electronic sensors and actuators play a crucial role in your car’s health. At Grimmer Motors, we often use electronic scan tools to diagnose these issues, reading fault codes to offer the best quality advice and fixes, often for free. It’s essential to address these dashboard warnings promptly to avoid more severe problems down the line.

The Check Engine light turns on

Your car is making strange noises

When your car begins to emit a knocking noise from under the bonnet, it’s a telltale sign of a dying engine. This alarming sound is often due to wear and damage to critical mechanical parts such as pistons and bearings. These moving parts are essential to your vehicle’s operation, and neglecting them can lead to more severe issues. A visit to a skilled mechanic is imperative to prevent your car from breaking down on the road and incurring a hefty repair bill. Moreover, other worrying sounds like popping, spitting, or backfiring from the exhaust should not be overlooked. These noises indicate underlying problems that, if left unchecked, can lead to significant engine troubles. Addressing these sounds promptly can save both your engine and your wallet in the long run.


The engine is running roughly or inconsistently

Experiencing your engine running erratically is a common yet concerning issue. While driving, if the engine sound is not consistent, it’s an indicator that your engine is struggling. Symptoms like the engine stuttering, shakeing, or loseing power as the revs increase are signs of underlying problems. These issues shouldn’t be ignored, as they can lead to more serious engine damage. The solutions often involve routine maintenance tasks such as replaceing spark plugs, testing ignition coils, checking fuel pressure, or cleaning the Air Flow Meter. A thorough tune-up can sometimes resolve these issues, restoring the smooth operation of your engine. Ignoring these signs can exacerbate the problem, leading to costly repairs in the future.

Your car produces oil patches

Finding puddles of oil beneath your vehicle is a clear sign of an oil leak in the engine. This issue should be addressed promptly, as the loss of oil depletes the necessary lubrication, causing increased friction and heat within the engine. These leaks are often due to worn engine oil seals, faulty sump plugs, or deteriorated sump plug washers. Such leaks not only lead to a messy driveway but can cause significant damage to your engine’s components over time. To prevent further issues, it’s crucial to have these leaks professionally sealed. Neglecting this problem can escalate to more severe engine complications, highlighting the importance of regular vehicle maintenance.

You can smell odours from inside the car

A noticeable smell of emissions or engine fumes from inside your vehicle is a warning sign that shouldn’t be ignored. When you start detecting exhaust smell or any other strange odours inside the car, it could be an indicator of engine damage. These odours are not only unpleasant but also a clear signal that your engine needs to be checked and diagnosed by a professional. Disregarding these smells can lead to more severe issues, as they often point to problems within the engine that require immediate attention. It’s crucial to address these odours promptly to ensure the health and safety of your vehicle’s engine.

Your car is using more gas than normal

An increased fuel consumption in your car can be a subtle yet significant indicator of an underlying fault in how your engine processes fuel. This often overlooked issue can lead to a substantial rise in your vehicle’s running costs. When you notice that you’re filling up the tank more frequently, it’s essential to pay attention to this as it could be linked to other engine-related symptoms. A lit check engine light might accompany this increased consumption, signaling the need for a thorough check-up. Consulting a professional mechanic can not only help diagnose the issue but also save money in the long run by addressing the root cause of the increased fuel usage. Timely intervention can prevent more serious engine problems and ensure your vehicle operates efficiently.

You experience a loss of engine power

Engines that struggle to run as they used to often hint at an internal problem. This loss of power can manifest in various ways: your car might stall, shake at high speeds, or show difficulty climbing hills. These symptoms are not just inconveniences; they are red flags indicating that your engine isn’t working optimally. Such issues demand immediate attention, and the best course of action is to consult a mechanic. A professional can diagnose the root cause, whether it’s a minor fix or a sign of something more serious. Ignoring these signs can lead to more severe engine damage, so it’s crucial to address them promptly to ensure your vehicle’s health and safety.

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There is smoke coming from your exhaust

When your vehicle starts misfiring and smoke billows from the exhaust, it’s a clear sign of trouble. The colour of the smoke can be a key indicator of the underlying issue. Incomplete combustion, often causing black smoke, hints at burning too much fuel. This could be due to Damaged fuel injectors, Malfunctioning sensors, a clogged air filter, or a blocked fuel return line. Grey smoke can point to issues with the PCV valve, problems in transmission fluid, or high oil consumption. The most concerning is Dark blue smoke, indicating your engine is burning oil. This is usually a result of oil leaking into the combustion chamber, often due to Worn out piston rings or valve seals. These components failing can lead to serious mechanical damage in the engine. In any case, observing smoke is a call to action for a thorough check-up and repair to prevent further damage.

How to Fix Common Engine Problems

When it comes to addressing common engine problems, there are two paths you can take: DIY Repairs or Professional Repairs. Opting for DIY Repairs can be a way to save money and gain a sense of pride and accomplishment. If you have basic tools and the repair is straightforward, tackling it yourself can be suited for simple solutions. This could include tasks like changing a dirty air filter or replacing faulty spark plugs. These solutions are often clear and manageable, especially if the difficulty level is low.

However, when the problem is more intricate, or if you lack confidence in your mechanical skills, it’s wise to turn to Professional Repairs. A professional mechanic, with their experience, tools, and knowledge, can diagnose and fix the issue more quickly. This is particularly true for engine problems resulting from complex interactions of various engine systems. In such cases, opting for a professional is the safest choice. Moreover, certain repairs might require specialized tools or parts, to which a professional will have better access.

Donating Your Car With Engine Failure

When facing the dilemma of a car with a blown engine, consider a unique solution like donating it to a charity such as Wheels for Wishes. This unique charity specializes in car donations, accepting a range of vehicles, including junk cars with blown engines. What sets them apart is their convenient service, which includes free towing by an experienced tow truck driver, simplifying the process for you. Unlike trying to sell a damaged car to scrap dealers or through classified ads, which might not yield fair prices or reflect the true trade in value, donating offers a different kind of reward. As a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization, Wheels for Wishes ensures that your donation not only helps them but also provides you with a tax deduction. The deductible receipt you receive reflects the auction price of your car, often more than you’d expect. Their dedicated team works tirelessly to recycle, auction, or sell your vehicle, striving to get the most value out of even less than perfect cars. If your motor car sells for less than $500, you still have the option to claim the fair market value on your tax deduction, making it a win-win situation.

Cars With Blown Engines Benefit Your Local Chapter Of Make-A-Wish

When you’re stuck with a car sporting a blown engine or grappling with engine problems, consider turning this challenge into an opportunity to benefit your local Make-A-Wish chapter. Wheels For Wishes is a charity that accepts vehicles in almost any condition, whether it’s a bad engine, damaged engine, seized engine, or even a busted engine. By choosing to donate your car to them, you’re not only resolving your vehicle issue but also contributing to a life-changing cause. The proceeds from your motor donation directly fund wishes for kids, making a significant impact in their lives. This motivates the team at Wheels For Wishes to extract the maximum value from each donation. An amazing wish for a child could be granted thanks to your decision. Plus, your tax deduction directly reflects the price for which they sell your donated vehicle, making it a rewarding experience for you as well.


Should You Sell, Fix Or Donate A Car With A Seized Engine?

Confronted with a car that has a seized engine, owners often find themselves at a crossroads: should they sell, fix, or donate? Selling a car with a broken engine, whether through classified ads or to local junkyards and car dealerships, often fetches an instant offer that’s far less than the car’s potential worth. Dealerships especially, seeking profit, may undervalue cars with engine problems, making selling a less attractive option. Fixing the engine is another route, but be wary of the expensive engine replacement costs and the complexity of common engine symptoms. For those not keen on pouring money into a new vehicle, donating emerges as a viable alternative. Charities like Wheels For Wishes offer numerous benefits to car donors. Besides the convenience of the donation process and free towing, donors receive a tax deduction. Plus, the satisfaction of knowing your old car is aiding kids through charity, provides a sense of fulfillment that selling or repairing might not match.

How Much Is A Car With A Broken Engine Worth?

Determining the worth of a car with a broken engine can be surprising. Contrary to what many might think, such a vehicle still holds value, primarily due to its scrap metal and reusable parts. While opting to sell it directly might seem straightforward, finding buyers who understand its true value can be challenging. They often seek to profit from its components, offering less money than the car deserves. Alternatively, donating your car, especially to organizations like Wheels For Wishes, transforms your burden into a noble cause. Not only is the process simple, but you also receive a tax-deductible receipt. This approach is particularly motivated by the knowledge that the proceeds will benefit children through the Make-A-Wish Foundation. It’s a unique way to assess the worth of your car, not just in monetary terms, but in the joy it brings to others.


If your engine quits while on the road, the immediate action should be to pull over. As you lose power steering and brakes, it becomes crucial to stop your car safely. You may need to exert more effort and take additional time to bring the vehicle to a halt. Remember, the key is to remain calm and ensure you and others on the road are safe.

If your car has a bad engine, you can consider options like Trade-In at a dealership, Selling it independently or online, Consulting mechanics or repair shops, Considering junkyards or scrap yards, or Donating the car to charity.

To determine if your car has an engine failure, observe if the engine is stalling while the vehicle is idle. Trouble in turning on the car or consistent stalling can indicate a problem with fuel delivery. In such cases, it’s advisable to have the engine checked by a professional.

When a car’s engine fails, you typically lose power. It’s smart to shift into neutral, turn on emergency flashers, and find a safe place to pull over. Steering becomes harder, and you may lose the brake power boost. Proceed with caution if the engine starts to act up while driving.

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