About Me

Angela's Articulate Collection of Car Service Secrets, Tips and Tricks

Hi, my name is Angela, and as the wife of a mechanic, I was constantly tripping over car parts and complaining about the rows of project cars lining our garden. However, after a few years, I quit complaining and actually found joy in the art of auto repair. Inspired by that classic book, "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance", I decided to start working on cars with my husband. This blog is the culmination of everything I have learned and more. I hope you enjoy reading it and that my tips and ideas guide you toward a healthier car and a happier, safer driving experience.


Angela's Articulate Collection of Car Service Secrets, Tips and Tricks

How to Get to the Bottom of an Engine Performance Issue

by Keith Simpson

How many kilometres have you covered in your trusty automobile without any problem whatsoever? If you're honest, you've probably had a good run and have not had to dip your hand into your pocket to pay for any car repairs. This gives you an indication how reliable the typical vehicle is these days, but it may nevertheless come as a surprise when an issue does manifest. It can be difficult to know what to do in this situation if you're not sure what type of problem you're facing, but you can often find your answer through a process of elimination.


In this case, you know that you have some type of issue with your engine, but it is not always apparent. For example, you may only notice an issue when you're sitting patiently at a traffic light and the engine seems to have a mind of its own. It may vibrate or misfire, and the whole car may seem to shake when the motor is not under any load.

This seems to indicate a problem with compression, and in a modern vehicle, this is usually down to a faulty sensor. If you have an older vehicle, then you may have to look at the distributor cap or issues with the spark plugs in particular.


However, the engine may seem to be perfectly fine at that traffic light, but it will start to play up when you accelerate away. In this case, there is a lot of resistance accompanied by misfire, and this would seem to indicate problems with the fuel supply. You could check to see if the pump is in good condition, whether you have a leak or blockage in one of the fuel lines, or whether your fuel injectors themselves need to be cleaned.

Maintaining Speed

If the problem is not to be found at rest or during acceleration, then it may appear when you are trying to maintain an average speed on the motorway. If you notice any hesitation here, then this may also be linked to fuel issues. There may be debris in the filter, or some of the sediment from the tank may have found its way into the lines.

Smoke Signals?

You can gather additional information to help you narrow this down by looking at the colour of the exhaust smoke. Issues with fuel can lead to excess at the combustion phase, and the surplus will be burned off in the form of smoke.

Getting the Answer

Most modern-day vehicles have a diagnostic system that will display an error code when attached to a handheld scanner. If you have one of these, you can play with those numbers, but if not, take the vehicle in to your mechanic anyway for them to sort it out.