What do you do if one minute your car is running fine and the next minute it is misfiring? Or if it starts fine one morning and the next day it starts up at the first turn of the key? Intermittent engine problems are some of the most difficult to diagnose. However, there are a few measures that can help you zero in on the problem; try this tips:
Confirm That It Isn't a Widespread Problem
Some intermittent engine problems that do not seem to have any particular cause can be traced back to manufacturer deficiencies. This is likely to be the case if many motorists are experiencing the same problem. In that case, it is possible that the manufacturer has already diagnosed the problem and issued out a quick fix, or even marked the car for a recall. Therefore, you need to confirm whether this is the case with your car by checking technical service bulletins (TBS) from your car's manufacturer.
Check the Battery
Electronics play an important role in the operations of modern cars. These electronics operate well at certain voltages. If there is a problem with the battery, and it is not giving out the correct voltage, then it can cause a number of problems in your car. Therefore, if there is no TBS related to the problem, then it is a good idea to check the battery.
To do this, you need a voltmeter (a manual or digital one will do, but the digital version is easier to use), and then follow these steps:
- Switch off all the vehicle's lights
- Turn off the engine
- Connect the positive (it is the red one) voltmeter lead to the positive battery terminal (marked with a +)
- Connect the negative (the black one) voltmeter lead to the negative battery terminal (marked -)
- Note the voltmeter reading
If the reading is less than 12.45 volts, then it is low and needs to be charged. If your car has not been idle, then either your battery or charging system is bad. In that case, take the car to your mechanic for a diagnosis.
Note the Pattern
What about if the battery voltage is above 12.45? In that case, the problem is not the battery, so you need a professional diagnosis from your mechanic. First, however, you need to note the pattern (if there is any) of the intermittent problems. Some of the possible patterns may be that the problem only occurs:
- When it is cold
- At certain hours of the day
- After driving for a certain duration
- Above or below certain speeds
Noting these patterns will help your mechanic make a fast and accurate diagnosis. For example, a problem that only occurs when the car is driven above a certain speed is likely to point to a loose connection. The more data you can furnish your auto repair technician with, the faster your car's problem will be diagnosed and fixed.