Is it Safe to Drive With a Misfiring Cylinder?

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The cylinder is the part of the engine where combustion takes place. The combustion in the cylinder is what powers the vehicle. The engine block is normally made from cast iron or aluminum. Depending on the type of vehicle, an engine may have as few as two cylinders to up to as many as 12 (the Bugatti Chiron has a 16 cylinder engine!). A misfiring cylinder can cause a proportional loss of power. For example, if one cylinder misfires in a four-cylinder engine, the car will lose 25 percent of its power.

Driving with a misfiring car is not safe. Here are 4 signs and symptoms to look out for if you believe you have a misfiring cylinder:

1. Loss of Power Accompanied by Abnormal Vibrations

One of the biggest signs your cylinder is misfiring is the loss of power along with odd vibrations. Since the cylinder powers the engine, your fuel economy will noticeably start to suffer since the remaining working cylinders have to compensate for the loss of power. In addition, if your vehicle shakes while idling, this is another sign of a misfire. Combine these signs, and they are sure indicators that your cylinder is misfiring and needs to be looked at by a mechanic as soon as possible.

2. Loss of Engine Spark

Another reason a cylinder may misfire is due to a loss of spark. This can be something that stops coil voltage from hopping the gap at the end of the spark plug, such as worn out or corroding parts. Damaged, worn, or bad spark plugs, or a weak ignition coil can cause a loss of spark, and therefore, a misfiring cylinder. This may happen periodically at first, but as components in the ignition system continue to fail, you’ll notice an increase in the number of misfires. Though this cause of engine misfires still requires mechanical repairs, spark plugs, ignition wires, and distributor caps and rotors do not cost too much to replace.

2. Imbalanced Air/Fuel Mixture

If there is not enough gasoline in the air/fuel mixture, this can cause a misfire as well. If the fuel injector is clogged, dirty, or has an air leak, the low pressure will affect all of the cylinders, rather than just one cylinder. A sticking EGR valve may also contribute to the air/fuel imbalance. Misfires caused by the fuel system appear suddenly and tend to be more detectable when idle compared to driving at highway speeds.

4. Intermittent Misfires

Sometimes cylinders have intermittent misfires, which means the cylinder does not misfire all the time. The misfire may happen when it is cold out or while the vehicle is carrying a heavy load. Other times it may seem like the cylinder misfires randomly and without a pattern. These are difficult issues to diagnose, so the vehicle needs to be looked at by a professional mechanic. It could be the car’s vacuum line, intake manifold gaskets, timing belt, or even the valve train.

Driving with a misfiring cylinder is potentially dangerous. If you lose power while driving or a second or third cylinder goes out, this can cause you to get into a car accident, possibly injuring you and others around you. If you suspect a misfiring cylinder, make an appointment with a technician as soon as possible to have your vehicle inspected and repaired.


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Number of Reviews

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Travis

11 years of experience
309 reviews
Travis
11 years of experience
Oldsmobile Alero - Engine is misfiring - Saint Paul, Minnesota
Travis allowed me to watch the trouble-shooting and resolve of my Alero. He was totally honest, forthright, and completed the repair within two hours. Travis was my second estimate and, comparatively speaking, wins the medal of honor! Thank you, Travis!
Ford E-350 Super Duty - Engine is misfiring Inspection - Saint Paul, Minnesota
Travis was a great diagnostician and also wise enough to know when not to do something he wasn't equipped for. I feel better talking to my regular mechanic now that I know what the problem is and how much I can expect it to cost. Will call Travis again when the need arises!

Duane

23 years of experience
371 reviews
Duane
23 years of experience
Cadillac SRX - Engine is misfiring - Poway, California
I thought my caddy was gonna be a big expensive problem for me. And then came DUANE. Not only was it a small problem but it was also not expensive. DUANE took care of the problem in his usual professional way. Words can't explain how happy i am.
Jaguar XF - Engine is misfiring - Fallbrook, California
Duane provided me with excellent service! He is clearly an experienced professional! His knowledge, experience, and pride in his work are clearly reflected in the quality of his work. He will be the only mechanic I request going forward. I am greatly satisfied with the service he provided me with and

Joe

13 years of experience
358 reviews
Joe
13 years of experience
Mercury Mariner - Engine is misfiring - Franklin, Tennessee
He was very thorough and informative. Joe takes the time to show me what’s going on with my cars and what to look for down the road. I’ve used Joe several times and he is great!
Toyota Avalon - Engine is misfiring - Nashville, Tennessee
Joe is very professional! Explained all my options to me in a way that I could understand them to my satisfaction! Joe even went above and beyond to give me exceptional customer service that meet my personal needs by explaining the different areas in the engine that might need further attention if the sensor did not do the job! Fortunately the sensor has been perfect , no more check engine light!

Brikk

16 years of experience
369 reviews
Brikk
16 years of experience
BMW 328i - Engine is misfiring - Charlotte, North Carolina
Very knowledgeable and friendly mechanic. Works quickly and efficiently as well. Awesome experience.
Toyota Sienna - Engine is misfiring - Matthews, North Carolina
He was backing up into my driveway at 10 AM sharp; that was the time of the appointment. Just for that fact alone I knew we were going get along well. Professional, knowledgeable, respectful, friendly, found the problem, tested the vehicle, and the issue was corrected. I will definitely ask for him to come out again on any future problems.

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