How to Know When Your Car Engine is Dying


It’s never a pleasant experience when you take your car into the mechanic, and he tells you that you need a new engine. Although there are usually warning signs, we often miss them.

It’s not just because we get conditioned to the weird little noises and quirks that our vehicles have. It’s partially also because many of us don’t actually know what to look, listen, or feel for. When you have an older vehicle, a lot of the odd vibrations and sounds seem “normal” for it’s age. But are they?

We’ll dive into that in this article. We’ll give you some signs and symptoms to watch out for, so you can help prevent or prolong your vehicle’s engine dying.

How to Know If Your Engine is Bad

So, how do you know when your car’s engine is dying exactly? Other than when it just completely stops and leaves you stranded on the side of the road.

Well, there’s a few different things to be on the lookout for when you’re driving an older vehicle, or one that has a high number of kilometres on the same engine. Some are more common than others, and some indicate various kinds of problems that could be happening in your engine. All are a symptom that you should have a mechanic give your engine a good once over.

Car Engine Problem Signs & Symptoms

First and foremost, without something catastrophic happening, the little signs your engine gives you when it’s in need of some love are critical in preventing a roadside breakdown. We’ve listed the most common signs and symptoms that your engine is bad below.

1. Check Engine Light is On


One of the most obvious signs that your engine may have trouble close by is the ever-dreaded check engine light.

Now, while this is definitely an indicator that something is wrong with your engine, the check engine light can also signal other issues to the driver as well. So, don’t be your own detective, and don’t try to just guess. Get your car into a trusted and professional mechanic who can run proper diagnostics and tell you whether or not your engine is acually on its way out.

Fortunately, if your vehicle’s engine is kaput, More Cash For Scrap pays MORE cash for vehicles with dead engines. We also buy cars with mechanical or electrical issues. So, if it’s not specifically your engine that needs work, but something else, you’ll still get MORE cash for your junk car than from any other scrap car buyers.

2. Your Engine Stalls or Has a Loss of Power

We’ve all been there; you’re sitting in traffic, or worse, a drive-thru, and your car dies. When you have a group of friends in the car, it isn’t so hard to push your vehicle off to the side of the road. However, as adults, the majority of us don’t keep a carload of young, strong kids in our car anymore. That’s why it’s so important to watch for signs that your engine may be going.

What often gets mistaken for a failing transmission by drivers, is actually their engine on its way out. They assume that when the vehicle is having a slower time shifting or accelerating that it must be because of the transmission. Although this is often the case, sometimes it’s because of a sudden loss of power due to a failing engine.

If your vehicle stalls completely, it could be any number of things from a faulty fuel pump to your engine. If your car is leaving you by the side of the road, it’s a good idea to get a tow straight to your mechanic.

3. Poor Fuel Economy

When we say poor fuel economy, we obviously mean fuel economy that is worsening, or not relative to the type of vehicle you’re driving.

If you drive a Jeep or a truck, you expectedly go through more fuel than a compact car. However, if you’ve noticed a jump in your gas consumption without additional use of the A/C or more driving time, you may want to get your engine checked out.

When certain components aren’t functioning properly, your vehicle requires more fuel to do its normal tasks. This is why poor gas mileage could be a sign that your car engine is dying. If you’re noticing you spend more time at the pump than usual, get your car into the mechanic.

4. New or Worsening Noises

If you drive an older vehicle, it goes without saying that as it ages, it starts to make noises. My father used to say that it was just its way of telling you that it’s still alive. While Dad wisdom isn’t always as reliable as it is funny, there was definitely some truth to that.

Older vehicles often have noises coming from various parts of the car. The more drive time on a vehicle, the more wear and tear, naturally. However, if the noises are getting louder and louder, or there are new sounds coming from your engine, it could be a sign that something, if not your engine, is about to kick the bucket.

Luckily, for vehicles that need expensive repairs like timing belts, engine replacement, or transmission replacement, More Cash For Scrap is here to help. We offer MORE cash for scrap cars than any other scrap car removal company in the Lower Mainland. Even vehicles with major mechanical issues.

5. Unusual Engine Odors


If you live in the Fraser Valley, you’re used to odd smells. Being surrounded by beautiful and natural farmland is both a gift, and a curse. During the summer months, the smell of manure can be overpowering, to say the least. But if you don’t live in the valley, and have noticed some distinctly unpleasant odors coming from your vehicle’s engine, it could be a sign that your engine is about to die.

The smell that drivers notice is most often referred to as rotten eggs. It’s due to the fuel burning in an incomplete combustion process. This happens when there are sensor issues, seal issues, or even catalytic converter issues. Left untreated, and you’re headed for trouble.

6. Engine Running Roughly

This is another obvious and telltale sign that your engine has seen better days. If your vehicle is idling roughly, or the engine has a hard start (and a rough one), then you may need an engine replacement.

Various things can create engine roughness, none of which are good. Metal shavings in your oil caused by piston problems, worn or damaged bearings, worn camshafts, and oil contamination due to broken or damaged seals and hoses.

Engine roughness is usually a sign that your engine is being or has been damaged by another issue. If your car is starting to run rough, get it into the mechanic right away. You could very well need a new engine.

7. Engine Overheating

While this can be a sign that your engine needs replacement, it is usually a symptom of another problem all on its own.


If your water pump isn’t functioning properly, or your thermostat is gone, your engine can overheat very quickly. Issues like coolant leaks and malfunctioning fans can also cause your engine to overheat. Once it does, it can cause some real damage to your engine.

As a professional scrap car buyer in Metro Vancouver, we see a lot of vehicles with engine damage due to overheating and fires. This occurs mostly during the summer months, due to our unpredictable weather conditions.

If you have a vehicle that died this summer due to our record high temperatures, give us a call. We’ll buy your scrap car, truck, SUV, or van, and offer you MORE cash for it than any other scrap car removal company.

8. Knocking

Engine knocking is a very prominent noise heard from your engine when it’s not working correctly. Although this could have been categorized under the “New or Worsening Noises” section of this list, we felt it should have a description all on its own.

Why? Because there is a lot involved with just this one symptom that your engine is going bad. If you have a knock sensor issue, you may not get notified by your check engine light that your engine is knocking.

If your timing is off, it can also cause your engine to knock. Bad pulleys and/or tensioners can also cause engine knocking. And even something as simple as a bad fuel/air intake ratio can create this problem.

That’s why it’s so imperative to have your vehicle regularly maintained by a professional like our friends at Tremblay Motors. If there is any kind of potential engine problem coming from any other various issue, these guys will find it. And if the cost of the repair isn’t worth the trouble, they often refer their customers to us to scrap cars for cash in Vancouver.

9. Rodent Infestation

This is more common in vehicles that have been sitting too long, and then put back on the road. However, it is a common problem in regularly driven vehicles in and around the Fraser Valley area.

Living in a rural area often comes with many challenges. One of which being that field mice, farm rats, and other seemingly harmless animals will take shelter in your vehicle’s engine during the fall and winter months. This can wreak havoc on your engine because they create nests with fluffy and soft debris that can quickly catch fire.

They also love to chew on various wires, which causes a whole host of electrical problems that are hard to track down. They will even chew hoses and can cause leaks to things like your washer fluid reservoir, or other needed fluids.

What Can I Do to Stop My Engine from Dying?

You can’t “stop” your engine from dying. Like everything in life, when it’s reached the end of its life cycle, that’s it. But you can take preventive measures to help prolong the life of your car’s engine, and to keep it running at its best.

Things Like:

  • Change the spark plugs and wires every 150,000kms
  • Go easy on the start and stop driving (city driving is hard on a vehicle’s engine)
  • Replace the fuel filter when needed
  • Follow-up immediately with your mechanic when any warning lights come on
  • Keep your belts and hoses in good condition
  • Fill up your gas tank before it gets too low
  • Check for leaks
  • Keep the engine oil at proper levels
  • Avoid adding fuel injector cleaners and other additives without the direction of your local mechanic

These are simple steps that will help to keep your vehicle running at its best, but will also promote a longer engine life of your car. If you don’t already have a trusted and reliable mechanic, you should put in serious effort to finding one.

Can I Sell My Car if It Has Engine Problems?

Yes, you can! More Cash For Scrap buys cars with mechanical problems, dead engines, and everything else. No matter what condition your car is in, we’ll buy it.

Nobody offers MORE cash for scrap cars with dead engines, transmission problems, or missing catalytic converters than we do. That’s because we are a professional scrap car removal company that knows how to get MORE out of the vehicles we scrap.

Get MORE Cash for Scrap Cars in Metro Vancouver

We are always on the lookout for junk cars to buy. Our entire business is focused on it, and we work hard to help customers scrap their cars. If you’ve got a vehicle to send to the junkyard, sell it to us and we’ll pay you MORE than any other scrappers.

We Buy:

  • Vehicles with mechanical issues
  • Cars with dead engines or failing transmissions
  • Car with collision damage
  • ICBC write-offs
  • Vehicles involved in fires or floods
  • Vehicles with interior damage
  • Vehicles with leaks, rust, mold, and mildew
  • Vehicles with major engine problems
  • Vehicles with paint and body damage
  • ANY unwanted vehicle for ANY reason!

Even if the vehicle you want to scrap has an issue that isn’t on this list, give us a call. We truly buy ALL scrap cars with ANY issues. So, even if you think your vehicle isn’t worth anything, you could be wrong. Talk to us today.

Scrap My Car in the Lower Mainland


Since 2005, we’ve been the leaders in scrap car removal for the entire Lower Mainland. No other scrap car buyers purchase more junk cars than we do.

If you think your engine is toast or on its way out, we’ll buy it for MORE cash than any of our competitors will offer you. That’s because we know where the value in your vehicles lies, and how to make it work for you to turn a better profit.

It’s no wonder why MORE mechanics, repair shops, local dealerships, and residents use our scrap car buying services over any other.

Get an INSTANT Cash Offer on Your Junk Car Today

If you’re sick of staring at a junker in your driveway, or don’t know what to do with a totaled vehicle, talk to us. Whether you’re selling a scrap car because of an accident or major mechanical failure, we’ll make you an instant offer on it.

Give us a call and provide us with the make, model, year, and condition of your car. Then, let us know the pickup location, as we provide free towing. Then, we’ll make you an offer right over the phone.

If you accept our offer, we’ll dispatch our free towing services to come collect your car that day. Our driver will pay you in cash and drive away with your scrap car forever! It’s that simple!

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About the Author: scrapcar

Since 2005, we've specialized in turning our customer's scrap cars into quick cash. We buy vehicles in ANY condition and with ANY issues. We pay MORE cash for scrap cars, trucks, SUVs, and vans than any other scrap car removal company in Metro Vancouver, the Fraser Valley, and Vancouver Island. If you want MORE cash, same day free junk car towing, and a reliable scrap car buying service, you want More Cash For Scrap.