car engine rebuild

9 Signs Your Old Jalopy Needs to an Engine Rebuild

It may have something to do with new cars setting buyers back an average of $36,270. Or for the simple reason you’re like Archie (as in the Archie Andrews), who can’t let go of his jalopy.


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Whatever your reason for holding on to your old clunker, know the time will come to lay its engine to rest. Or at least, give it a car engine rebuild.

It’s important to know when this “time” is, and not only for your own convenience. It has a lot to do with your safety and the well-being of other road users too.

Keep in mind that poor-performing vehicles contribute to the concerning global road crash stats. FYI, these accidents cause 20 to 50 million injuries or disabilities every year.

Don’t let any of these happen to you, your passengers, or other motorists. So, be on the lookout for these signs of engine failure!

1. Too Much Smoke

Your tailpipes may be at the back of your ride, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pay it any attention. Especially when someone tells you so much smoke comes out of it.

Take this as a sign you need engine repairs or a rebuild. Don’t wait too long, as excessive smoke can already signal a bad fuel pressure regulator or faulty injectors. The longer you prolong a proper fix, the greater the damage your engine sustains.

2. Black Smoke

Say your exhaust doesn’t let out a lot of smoke. Instead, it produces black smoke. Does this signal a possible rebuild?

Not always, but it’s still a matter of concern. Because black smoke always signals an engine issue, which you should address early on to prevent a complete engine breakdown.

For instance, this can mean incorrect fuel to air ratio. Black smoke can also indicate you have too little air mixed in with the fuel.

But in many other cases, it may signal engine/fuel system malfunction. Unless you’re a pro mechanic yourself, this is one task you don’t want to DIY. There are too many components (and risks) involved, so may want to contact an engine expert for a targeted repair.

3. Your Tailpipe Looks Like It’s Vaping

Ever seen the huge billows of white smoke that vaping devices produce? Is your tailpipe producing something similar? If so, then you’ve got a leak.

To be more precise, this white smoke results from coolant and water leaking and getting into the combustion chamber. From there, they then mix with the fuel.

There are three possible culprits to this type of leak.

One is a blown or busted head gasket. White smoke is also one of the signs of a cracked engine block. A damaged or worn cylinder head can also allow coolant to get into the combustion chamber.

4. Mystical-Looking Smoke

If there’s blue smoke, there’s burning engine oil. It’s possible your oil tank seals have become too worn they already let oil slosh out. Typical wear and tear on seals can also lead to gap formation, allowing engine oil to escape.

The good news is, reputable online automotive part suppliers make the above-mentioned parts quick and easy to find. You may want to check out the extensive collection of Auto Chain to start shopping for these parts.

5. Eats through Oil Too Fast

Old piston rings can have reduced sealing properties too, making them another potential culprit to blue smoke. In this case, they allow oil to make its way into the combustion chamber. If you notice blue smoke accompanied by low oil levels, it’s a sign you need to repair or rebuild your engine.

This problem can make your ride burn through so much oil it ends up using a quart after only 1,000 miles. You need to address this as soon as possible, as oil leaks can cause more extensive engine damage that may limit your chances of a proper rebuild.

Besides, you don’t want to keep wasting money on oil that doesn’t even need refilling right away, do you?

6. Loud Bangs and Knocks

If someone were to come knocking at your door with a sense of urgency, would you ignore it? Nope, you wouldn’t. So, never turn a deaf ear (sorry) to your jalopy’s loud bangs and knocks either.

These harsh noises are a sort of cry for help, often telling you there’s a problem with your engine’s pistons and/or crankshaft. For example, a failed bearing can cause those loud knocks. In many cases, this happens where the piston wrist pins are, or where the rods meet the pistons.

These sounds are synonymous to alarm bells, telling you that you may either need a repair or a complete rebuild. In any case, stop driving, because the more you do, the louder they will become. The louder they become, the greater the mechanical damage will be.

7. Constant Need to Top Up

With the constant rise in fuel prices, the last thing you want is to keep topping up. Especially when you don’t have the actual need to.

The thing is, an engine that already needs rebuilding forces you to. An inefficient engine, such as one that runs slow or starts with delays, can consume more gas than necessary.

So, if you’ve noticed that you’ve become more than a “regular” at a gas station, it may be a sign you need an engine rebuild.

8. Misfiring Engine due to Compression Loss

When any of your engine’s cylinders have a leak, it can result in compression loss. This then results in a considerable drop in your engine’s power output.

But what’s more noticeable when compression loss occurs is an engine misfire. In most cases, a misfiring engine happens when unburned fuel makes its way into the exhaust system. This can put your catalytic converter at serious risk.

The longer you put off having your engine repaired or rebuilt, the greater the risk of a complete engine breakdown.

9. Weak and Powerless

Indeed, any engine will see some power loss over its lifetime. The general wear and tear it sustains over the years will take its toll on the engine. But, so long as you respond right away to the signs your car needs tuning up and you follow your preventive maintenance checklist, then you can prolong this loss of power.

If you notice a drastic decrease in power, however, then that can already mean engine headaches. Never ignore this symptom, especially if weird noises accompany it. Your engine is already telling you it needs some serious repairs or a rebuild.

A Car Engine Rebuild Makes Your Old Engine Work Like New

Many of the above-mentioned symptoms will make that “CHECK ENGINE” light on your dash light up. You don’t have to panic when it does though, since it may only be a minor issue (think a loose gas cap).

What’s important is to never disregard the signs warning you of impending serious engine troubles. If you experience one or several of these symptoms, it’s time to consider the need for a car engine rebuild. This’ll save you money but still give you an engine that works like a charm.

Want to know more tricks that’ll make vehicle ownership easier and less costly? Then please check out our blog! An extensive collection of car maintenance and repair guides awaits you there.