What Causes an Engine to Sputter?
Whether it's a newer car or one you've had for a while, when an engine sputters, it's scary! But what causes an engine to malfunction like that?
Setting aside a sputtering engine due to lack of fuel, there are several causes, all of which are telling you that there is a deeper problem to be addressed.
Here are three:
• A blocked fuel injector
• Incomplete combustion in the engine
• If the gas gauge is full but the engine sputters
The root cause of a malfunctioning engine can be located in several different systems. Two of the most common are the exhaust and the fuel systems. Here's a breakdown of the most common causes of engine sputtering:
Exhaust Manifold Leak
When the exhaust manifold has a leak, it can cause the car to run unevenly or to sputter. It can also cause the check engine light to come in.
You may also hear increased engine noise with the engine performing poorly. A leaking or cracked manifold is a potentially dangerous driving condition!
Gases that have escaped can melt plastic components, and exhaust fumes can find their way into the cabin. It's best to get it repaired quickly.
Failing Catalytic Converter
Smelling rotten eggs? Engine running rough or sputtering? Check your catalytic converter. When it starts to fail, it can burn off the hydrocarbons in the exhaust. Plus, it can't break down the sulfur produced by the engine. Hence, the rotten egg smell.
Get it replaced quickly because eventually the converter won't function at all.
Malfunctioning Oxygen Sensors
A failing or dirty oxygen sensor will place too much or too little fuel into your engine. That's what causes it to malfunction. Check these sensors on a regular basis and replace as needed to avoid this.
When there's a leak in this system, you'll experience sputtering or a rough engine. If the problem isn't corrected, your car will hesitate or stall upon acceleration.
Worn Gaskets or Seals
Seals and gaskets have to be replaced periodically. Failing to do so will cause the engine to run rough and to sputter. Check these regularly! Failing to replace them can cause damage to the exhaust manifold and that's an expensive repair.
Fuel Injectors are Dirty
Over time, fuel injectors clog up causing slow acceleration and engine sputtering. If you catch the clogged injectors soon enough, they can be cleaned. If not, they will need to be replaced.
Dirty Mass Airflow Sensor
When this device malfunctions, it sends the wrong information to the computer, resulting in a sputtering engine or rough running.
Dirty/Bad Spark Plugs
Dirty or bad spark plugs won't cleanly ignite the fuel causing the vehicle to misfire or sputter. You'll either need to replace or have them cleaned.
Because engine sputtering is a symptom of something more serious, it's important to rely on an experienced mechanic to diagnose and repair the problem.
Here at Joe Bowman Auto Plaza, when your vehicle exhibits those symptoms, our certified technicians will inspect your vehicle's fuel and exhaust systems. We'll check the exhaust seals and gaskets, the exhaust manifold, airflow and oxygen sensors, and more.
Get an experienced GM certified service expert on your side! The Joe Bowman Auto Plaza service department is locally known for its honesty, integrity, and knowledge.
We'll help to keep your vehicle running smoothly. Schedule an appointment today!