Common Causes of Vehicle Engine Failure

A car's engine will eventually fail, just like all other parts under the hood. However, neglecting needed car repairs and maintenance can often lead to early engine failure, and might also mean that your car runs rough or struggles to perform even while the engine is still working. Note a few of these common cause of vehicle engine failure that are the fault of the car owner, so you avoid them and so your car's engine lasts as long as possible.

The check engine light

If your car's check engine light is on, it might be tempting to overlook this, but this light is connected to sensors that monitor the condition of the engine and many of its major components. Two common reasons for this light to come on are a failing oxygen sensor and clogged catalytic converter.

The oxygen sensor notes how much oxygen is needed for the engine to maintain proper combustion, while the catalytic converter filters exhaust before it exits the vehicle. When either of these fail, the engine may be running much hotter than it should, as it may burn more fuel to compensate for a lack of oxygen, or there may be more "bad air" trapped in the engine. Having these parts replaced as needed can ensure the engine is protected.

Cooling system

The cooling system may be one of the most important pieces that is connected to the engine, and yet it's easy to ignore this system. Be sure you keep the radiator hoses in good repair and replace them when needed, and keep the coolant reservoir full. Inspect the radiator for cracks and other such damage, and have these issues fixed at once, to ensure the radiator and coolant system are always delivering proper amounts of coolant to the engine.


If your car has been driven through a flooded area, or if it's even been exposed to very heavy rainfall, this can cause damage to the engine in a number of ways. Not only can water get into the lines of the coolant system and exhaust system, but water pressure can bend rods and other pieces that are needed to operate the engine, oxygen intake valve, and the like. This water can also damage the gaskets that seal the chambers of the engine. It's good to have a car thoroughly inspected after it's been in a flood to note if any lines need to be bled and to ensure that smaller, weaker pieces of the engine's major components have not been damaged as well. A mechanic can provide new gasket sets and other parts to get your vehicle back in good shape.