Signs that your car’s engine is about to fail


Imagine this, you are stuck on the side of the road, smoke is rising under the hood, a sign that something is faulty, what could have gone wrong?

There are various issues that could lead to your car breaking down and potentially engine failure.

Needless to say, motorists who tend to notice warning signs at an early stage save themselves a lot of trips to the mechanic to replace an engine.

Talk to Kyalo, automotive engineer and automotive expert, described the main signs a motorist can look for:

Motorists stranded in a traffic jam towards the CBD along the busy Thika Highway in Nairobi on Monday, November 11, 2019.

Simon kiragu

Check the engine light

Check engine lights are available in different colors such as orange, yellow, amber depending on the manufacturer.

Kyalo noted that in most cases, when the check engine light is on, it can signal a minor problem, or if it is blinking, it can indicate a serious problem that requires immediate attention.

The expert advised motorists not to ignore the warning signs on the dashboard, whether minor or major.

“Some of the signals from the check engine are minor cases, but try as much as possible to rectify the problem as soon as possible. One way to do this is to take it to the mechanic to make sure the problem is resolved. will tell you how best the problem can be solved, ”he said.


When your car gets too hot, it tends to cause other parts to fail. This happens because of a problem with the cooling system that causes the engine to overheat. Causes of overheating can include a faulty water pump, faulty electric cooling fan, or a bad thermostat.

In order to avoid this, he advised motorists to check the temperature gauge on the dashboard, to check for smoke under the hood.

Check their car’s thermostat by removing the radiator cap and start the ignition key. If the coolant level in the holder does not watch for a drop as the car begins to warm up, there is a good chance that the thermostat is closed, causing the car to overheat.

Ignition switch failure

One of the most common problems with ignition is when the vehicle suddenly stalls while the engine is running. This ultimately cuts off power to the ignition and fuel systems, causing the engine to stall.

Kyalo noted that the problem in most cases only needs a quick fix to be resolved. He did point out, however, that there could be a major problem, so it is essential to consult a reputable mechanic to enable him to diagnose the problem and come up with the desired solutions.

Motorists in a rush hour traffic jam along the busy Uhuru highway in Nairobi.  October 17, 2019

Motorists in a rush hour traffic jam along the busy Uhuru highway in Nairobi. October 17, 2019.

Decreased performance or reduced energy efficiency

Engine oil plays a key role in vehicle mobility as it lubricates the engine, cools engine parts, keeps the engine clean, and prevents deposit build-up. However, the oil does degrade eventually and for most motorists they tend to ignore this particular problem by not refueling which has a negative effect on their engines.

Kyalo advised motorists to have the oil and filter changed at least once every three months. He noted that the oil change removes contaminants as well as used oil and filters.

“We find that sometimes we buy oil which unfortunately contains contaminants. So my advice is to get oil from the garage as the chances of getting genuine spare parts are mainly high, ”he said.


Kyalo advocated servicing your car after purchase in order to track mileage and ensure proper maintenance.

“The first thing every owner should do, whether it’s a new or used car, should be to perform minimal maintenance. This involves changing the air filter, the oil filter, and the oil itself. It is also essential to check the levels of coolant, brake fluid.

“The only time you can avoid doing that is when you get a car from a showroom that has zero mileage,” he said.

He noted that the majority of motorists might not be able to perform all of the necessary self-service options, which is why he advised motorists to seek out a reputable and experienced mechanic.

“When you buy a car and take it to an inexperienced mechanic, you give that mechanic the opportunity to experience your car at your expense,” he said.

When it comes to purchasing spare parts, he noted that it is also up to the mechanic as most motorists do not know the difference between counterfeit spare parts and original spare parts.

“I encourage people to join many social media groups where motorists can post their issues and get a referral on where to get good service options and a good mechanic,” he said.

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