Q: Can I drive a car that is misfiring to the mechanic to get it fixed or do I need to have it towed in?

asked by on October 27, 2016

Can I drive a car that is misfiring to the mechanic or do I need to have it towed in?

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Unfortunately, if the engine is actively misfiring, unburned gas from the misfiring cylinder(s) ends up in the catalytic converter. Basically, once that gas is dumped there, as a vapor of course, it eventually "lights off" in the converter (gas, of course, is supposed to burn in the engine cylinders, where it is safe to do so, not in the catalytic converter or exhaust system) melting the converter internals.

How much "driving" you can get away with while an engine is misfiring is variable, but in all events is not much. If you happen to be in an area served by a mobile mechanic, such as one from YourMechanic, you need not drive the car or have it towed. The mechanic can come to you and determine the cause of the misfiring engine. This will obviously save you the risk of further damage to the car (to the catalytic converter) and the costs of towing.

As far as the repair goes, if the misfire is consistent (always present), the diagnostic will be straightforward once the engine is put on a scope and especially if the misfire is limited to "a" cylinder versus a random misfire. A random misfire will present a numerically larger number of possible causes that need to be evaluated.

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