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Why Is My Engine Sputtering?

When your engine is sputtering, you can typically tell right away. You might hear a backfiring sound, or your vehicle may feel like it’s not operating at normal power.

A sputtering engine isn’t just inconvenient — it could be a very simple indication that you’re running out of gas or a symptom of a much bigger issue such as a problem with the exhaust system. Read on to learn about some of the most common causes of engine sputtering.

1. There’s An Issue in the Fuel System

Your car’s pump, filters, and injectors work together to keep fuel flowing steadily. These three components comprise your fuel system, which generates the combustion that keeps your vehicle powered.

A sputtering engine could relate to a problem in the fuel process. To avoid such a serious issue, it’s recommended that you schedule an annual cleaning of your vehicle’s fuel system with an experienced auto repair shop.

2. You’re About to Run Out of Gas

A less serious cause of a sputtering engine is that you’re about to run out of gas. In this case, your engine will begin to struggle as it’s not getting enough fuel, and eventually, your vehicle will quit running. At the first sign of a sputtering engine, the first thing you should do is look at your fuel gauge.

3. Your Fuel Injectors are Dirty

Your fuel injectors play a role in delivering gas to the engine’s combustion chambers. If the fuel injectors are dirty, they won’t deliver fuel consistently, resulting in a sputtering engine.

4. The Catalytic Converter is Failing

The catalytic converter reduces harmful substances emitted from your vehicle. A key component of the exhaust system, it works to convert dangerous compounds like nitrous oxide and carbon monoxide into less dangerous compounds like carbon dioxide.

A failing catalytic converter can cause engine sputtering. If the converter isn’t functioning properly, it can cause extensive engine issues.

5. There May be Bad Gaskets or Seals

Various gaskets and seals throughout the transmission, exhaust system, fuel system, and engine keep your vehicle performing at its best. If even one gasket or seal becomes weak or worn, it could cause a sputtering engine.

If your car is sputtering, your engine is asking for help. Ignoring the issue could cause major (and costly) damage. At the first sign of trouble, head to your local auto repair shop for a complete diagnosis so you can get your vehicle back on the road.

Photo by hirun from Getty Images via Canva Pro