Troubleshooting the Engine

Q: What are the basics to troubleshooting gasoline engine problems?

A: At the basic level, gasoline engines need the following to run: air, fuel, spark, and compression. Now each of these need correct quantities and have to happen at the right time. For example, too much fuel and the engine “floods” out, fouling spark plugs. To little fuel (running lean), the engine will not run or will lack power. The air-fuel ratio is critical. Even when it comes to the spark, it has to be at the correct time. When troubleshooting a car, don’t forget about the basics. Troubleshooting either confirms that the system is working properly or that the system is in question. Either way, troubleshooting will bring you closer to a solution. Performing routine maintenance as suggested by the manufacturer in the owner’s manual is the best way to prevent future problems.