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8 Reasons Your Car Might Not Be Performing Well (And How to Fix Them)

8 Reasons Your Car Might Not Be Performing Well

by Jordan McDowell

Strange noises, shakes, bumps, slow acceleration, and starting problems — what is going on with my car? As a car owner, you’re likely to face a few issues as your vehicle gets older, and most of them happen when you least expect it. That’s why you should always maintain your vehicle according to the car maker’s recommendations. Find them in your owner’s maintenance guide. Identify minor issues before they become bigger problems.

If you’re dealing with car performance issues, you may have a reason to worry, but there’s no need to panic. Here are some common reasons why your car may not be performing well and how to fix it.

Photo by Erik Mclean on Unsplash

If you’re dealing with car performance issues, you may have a reason to worry, but there’s no need to panic. Here are some common reasons why your car may not be performing well and how to fix it.

Here are the 8 Reasons Your Car Might Not Be Performing Well

Worn Spark Plugs  

Spark plugs are an essential part of your car’s ignition system.

worn spark plug

The spark jumps from a sharp edge on the center electrode to the side electrode. As the center electrode wears, it rounds off, resulting in shorter spark duration and misfires.

When they’re not working properly, they diminish your car’s overall performance. Worn spark plugs can cause starting problems, reduce engine power, and even increase fuel consumption.

Solution: Follow your car’s service and maintenance manual to replace spark plugs regularly. Some engines require spark plug replacement only once every 100,000 miles, while other engines, especially turbo-equipped engines may require replacement as often as every 30,000 miles.

Damaged Alternator

Your car’s alternator is responsible for charging your battery and powering your engine and all vehicle electrical accessories. When the alternator fails, you’ll experience slow starting or even “no-start” problems.  The most common cause of alternator failure is overloading the alternator by using it to recharge a totally dead battery. That added stress overheats the stator and rotor coils and damages the diodes.

Solution: To prolong the life of your alternator, make sure you check the alternator drive belt condition and tension and clean the battery posts and terminals. High electrical resistance at the battery terminals puts extra load on the alternator.

Weak or Damaged Lift Supports

Malfunctioning lift supports or gas springs keep your hood, trunk lid, or rear hatch in the fully open position. As they wear, they cause those components to sag or not lift at all. That can be very frustrating, especially when you have multiple shopping bags to load into your trunk. Even checking your fluids under the hood could be a real hassle if you have damaged lift supports.

Solution: Car performance is about more than just the engine. It’s about your car’s reliability in all aspects. If your hood, trunk,

gas hood lift

Replace lifts in pairs.

or hatch lift supports don’t fully lift those components, you replace them yourself. It’s an easy job. Find a replacement here, along with replacement instructions.

Faulty Battery

Your car’s battery is one of the main sources of power, and it’s crucial to ensure your car functions properly. Most batteries are designed to last approximately five years. Different issues like corroded terminals, loose clamp connections, or a deteriorating battery could arise. Modern battery testers can give you fairly accurate results on the state of your battery. If the tests show high internal resistance, replace it now before it lets you down.

Solution: Keep your battery in good condition by regularly inspecting it and cleaning battery posts and terminals. Cleaning your battery helps reduce electrical resistance and corrosion. Lubricating the terminals after cleaning is also a good practice. You can also consider getting a maintenance-free car battery to give you peace of mind.

Exhaust Smoke 

If you see unusual smoke coming from your exhaust, you could be experiencing one of several different problems. The color of the smoke may indicate certain issues.

  • Grey or white smoke: If you see white smoke (aside from normal condensation in cold weather), it might mean that the coolant is being combusted with the fuel. That likely means that there’s a leak somewhere in the cylinder head gasket.
  • Bluish smoke: Blue smoke is a sign of leakage in the valve seals or guides or worn-out piston rings. That may cause the engine oil to enter the combustion chamber, causing the oil to burn with the fuel.
  • Black smoke: If you see black smoke, it means that your car is burning excessive fuel in the combustion chambers due to a stuck fuel pressure regulator, a leak in the fuel injector, a restriction in the fuel combustion line, or improper air/fuel mixtures.

Solution: Visit a mechanic to inspect your fuel system and check for leaks. Again, following the recommended car maintenance schedule, and using quality parts and auto services is crucial.

Uneven Tire Wear and Wheel Damage

Uneven tire wear or damaged wheels make your vehicle tire cuppingless safe. Tires wear over time, especially if you have a bent wheel or wheels that aren’t aligned. In fact, tires with less than 2/32” of tread depth pose a danger to you, your passenger, and other drivers. Low tread depth increases stopping distance and causes hydroplaning on wet roads. Low tire pressure also creates a safety hazard because they can overheat, causing tread separation, and even blowouts. Plus, low tire pressure dramatically reduces the life of the tire. So it pays to check and maintain the proper tire pressure.

Solution: Check the recommended tire pressure on a label in the driver’s door area. Check your tires once a week and refill to that recommended pressure when they’re low. Also, since you never know when you’ll get a flat tire, make sure you always have a spare wheel and the necessary tools to change a tire at any given time.

Engine Overheating

Photo by Lucho Renolfi on Unsplash

An overheating engine is a major issue and, if left unchecked, overheating can cause expensive engine damage. If your temperature gauge is in the red zone or you see steam or smoke coming from beneath your hood/bonnet, pull over immediately and call a tow truck. Do not continue to drive with an overheated engine.

Solution: Check the coolant reservoir and the proper coolant if it’s low. If you have to add coolant regularly, check for leaking hoses or a leak in your radiator or heater core. If your engine is overheating, check the operation of the radiator fan, water pump, and thermostat.  WARNING: Never open the radiator cap when the engine is hot. You could get severe burns or scalding. Wait for it to cool down before doing anything.

Low Engine Oil Level

Low engine oil often causes your car to underperform significantly. Worse yet, low oil level causes premature engine wear. A low oil level usually happens when you put off required oil changes or fail to check and top off the oil level regularly. Ensuring that your engine oil is always topped off and changing it according to schedule is perhaps the most important car maintenance rule. Failure to do so causes severe wear on your engine components.

Solution: Make it a habit to check your engine oil levels as well as other fluid levels once a month. If low, ensure you top-up with the recommended engine oil for your car make and model. Also, watch out for any leaks as they could be a sign of engine problems.

Regular Car Maintenance Will Help You Avoid Most Problems

As mentioned numerous times above, the best way to prevent car problems is by doing regular car maintenance, as per your car maintenance manual. Some of these problems are easy to fix on your own, while others you can’t. If you’re not sure about anything, consult a qualified mechanic. Learn how to keep your car running smoothly.

Author Bio:

Jordan is an experienced auto technician and performance car enthusiast. He also shares his expertise online to help car owners diagnose and solve car problems. When he’s not working on cars, he loves spending time with his family.


Posted on by Rick Muscoplat

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