man checking under vehicle hoodIf you’ve noticed strange noises more frequently while driving or see steam coming from under the hood, you could be dealing with engine failure. Often stemming from a lack of vehicle maintenance, understand how and why engine failure occurs.


One of the first signs your car is experiencing an engine issue, multiple factors may be behind overheating:

  • A damaged head gasket or seal
  • A lack of lubrication from oil
  • Low coolant levels
  • A coolant leak, either from the system’s hoses or a damaged radiator cap
  • Damage to the radiator
  • A malfunctioning engine fan or thermostat
  • Issues with the engine mount
  • A malfunctioning water pump
  • Wiring issues

Continuing to drive a car with one or more of these issues increases your risk for engine failure. You’re advised to schedule auto body service to determine why the engine is overheating and have necessary repairs made.

Insufficient Lubrication

Oil allows all parts to move smoothly and in sync. Low oil levels can mean two things: The engine isn’t getting the lubrication it needs, causing metal parts to rub against each other and wear prematurely, and it also may be holding onto debris, which increases friction. Both scenarios affect how the engine manages heat, which can heighten risks for overheating and cause parts to melt and distort.

While ignoring an oil change eventually leads to engine failure, it’s not the only possibility. A leak in the system or a malfunctioning oil pump can both affect how much oil circulates through the engine. The engine mount, steering system, catalytic converter, oxygen sensor and suspension can also play a role. How do you know your engine isn’t getting enough lubrication?

  • The engine oil light comes on and you delay getting an oil change.
  • You spot oil stains on the driveway or pavement below the car.


An out-of-sync combustion process increases the amount of heat and pressure in the engine, which may result in detonation. This occurs when exhaust gas is unable to circulate, as a result of heat and pressure accumulating in the combustion chamber.

Fuel can ignite without warning, which places a high amount of force on the piston. As this unfolds, you may hear a knocking noise coming from the engine. Influencing your risks for detonation are poor-quality gas, spark plug issues, overheating and any factors affecting the combustion process.

Water In the Engine or Flooding

Driving in a flood, deep puddle or through heavy rain causes a significant amount of water to enter your engine. The water can pass into the intake manifold, damage the piston rods and ultimately prevent the engine from starting up. Due to these risks, drivers are encouraged to avoid floods, heavy rain and areas with deep standing water.

Ignoring the Cooling System

Along with oil, the cooling system helps regulate engine temperature. Insufficient operation due to a malfunctioning radiator, leaks in a hose, low coolant or older coolant holding onto debris can cause an engine to overheat and eventually fail.

On a general level, monitor the coolant level and schedule a flush based on recommendations in the owner’s manual. Also continue following the maintenance schedule for the rest of your car’s heating and cooling system for repairs and replacements.

Diesel Fuel In the Gas Tank

The thicker consistency of diesel fuel is designed for commercial trucks, boats and buses – not passenger cars. If diesel enters your car’s gas tank, the fuel pump will have difficulties moving it through the system and starting the combustion process. This can lead to a clogged fuel filter and injectors, create a sticky residue between parts and cause the engine to seize and stop working.

If you accidentally add diesel fuel to your gas tank, do not drive the car to decrease risks of experiencing engine failure. Instead, have your car towed to an auto body shop to have the diesel fuel drained.
Have you spotted the early signs of engine failure? Rather than wait and experience more expensive engine repairs, contact DaSilva’s Auto Body today.