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Video:How to Know if There's a Problem With the Car's Engine

with Nick Jaynes

Strange noises coming from under the hood is one of the more common ways that people notice problems with a car's engine, but it can be difficult to know exactly what's wrong. Here's a list of some of the more common engine problems you'll encounter.See Transcript

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Transcript:How to Know if There's a Problem With the Car's Engine

Hi, I'm Nick Jaynes for About.com and this is how to know if there is something wrong with your car. If you've ever owned an older car, then you've probably had the experience where either your car doesn't start, it has trouble starting or doesn't sound quite right. There are many things that can go wrong with your vehicle, but here are some of the more common symptoms and solutions.

Engine Problems: Dead Battery

Most of us have had the experience when we go out to our car one morning and it just won't start. Turn the key, and nothing happens. Usually it's an extremely cold morning. Batteries have a finite lifespan but they're useful life can be cut short by several factors: bad alternator, power draw from an interior light or other parasitic draw, and even cold weather. The alternator on your car, pictured here, generates electricity for your car when the engine is running. Extra electricity is routed back to the battery to keep the charge up. It's like plugging in your cell phone at night. You use the battery power to start the car, but once it's running, the electricity to power it comes mostly from the alternator. If the alternator is old and worn, the battery will have to supply more power to keep the car going and will eventually wear it out. Leaving an interior light on over night can kill a weak battery and pull out what little power that remains in it. Cold weather can also zap the remaining life of a worn out and old battery. Lead acid batteries, like all batteries, are susceptible to power loss in the cold.

Engine Problems: Bad Starter

Another issue that can cause your car not to start is a bad starter. If you try to jump start the car and it still won't fire, your starter could be the cause. It might sound strange, but if a jump won't start your car, try knocking on it with a 2 by 4 or a hammer. Usually, this will allow you to start the car. This doesn't always work. But it's worth a try.

Engine Problems: Old and Squeaky Belts

Ever started your car and heard a loud, obnoxious squealing or screaming sound? It's most likely that the belt or belts on the front of your motor that run the accessories like the alternator, AC compressor, and water pump, is old and rubbing against one of the pullies. Sometimes, sanding or lubrication will help temporarily but the best solution is to replace the belt.

Hopefully these few tips and tricks will help you diagnose some common issues with your car. Thanks for watching. If you'd like to learn more, please visit us online at About.com.

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