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What Can Cause Major Damage to Car Engine Parts?

Educational  ·  November 9, 2021

What Can Cause Major Damage to Car Engine Parts?

Engine parts are one of the most expensive car parts to repair or replace. Fortunately, engines are built to last through the lifetime of a car, so you almost need not think about replacing it. Unfortunately, there are plenty of reasons for an engine part to go bad, and worse, many of these are easy to overlook.

The most common causes of engine damage include overheating, a lack of lubrication, water damage, leaks, and using the wrong fuel. Each of these can cause considerable damage to your engine and its parts, leading to costly repairs. 

However, by paying attention to signs of such problems, you can protect your engine and its parts from major damage.

Let’s look closer at each of these causes and how you can avoid them.

The Key Parts of a Car Engine

Before we dive into the things that can cause damage to your engine parts, let’s do a quick recap about what those parts are in the first place.

Firstly, let’s remember and appreciate the fact that modern car engines are marvels of automotive engineering. Inside each one, there are hundreds of moving parts, all working in perfect harmony to keep your vehicle functioning.

There are far too many parts to dive into for this article, so you can check out our previous article here for a more in-depth review of the many engine parts that exist. For this guide, however, it helps to remember that engine parts generally fall into three sections:

These hundreds of engine parts expose the engine to various risks of damage. While normal wear should be expected, other causes of major engine damage are all too common and unnecessary. Let’s look at 5 of them.

5 Things That Can Cause Major Damage to Your Car's Engine Parts

Car engine damage can be pretty devastating, not only because the repairs will be costly but because a car can’t move at all without a working engine. If you know what can likely cause an engine or engine part to go awry, you’ll have an idea how best to prevent or avoid it.

Here are five things that can cause major damage to your car engine and engine parts:

Excessive Heat

Heat is vital for the correct functioning of your car engine. Aside from engine parts working efficiently at the correct working temperature, your lubricants and fluids are also designed to work better when they’re hot enough.

Still, there’s such a thing as ‘too much of a good thing’. Excessive heat will lead to overheating, causing the metals to swell, expand, and likely crack.

Engine overheating can be caused by a broken water pump, clogged hoses, a failed cooling system, and more.

Lack of Lubrication

With all the moving parts in your car engine, lubrication is another critical element. Lubrication ensures that two metal parts don’t grind against and cause damage to each other. Inadequate lubrication will lead to some very nasty damage inside your engine.

What causes inadequate lubrication? The first possibility is user error. Maybe, you didn’t fill enough lubricant, or it’s also possible that a leak is causing a loss of lubricant.

Water Damage

If you live in a frequently flooded area, you must be mindful of where you park your car. When an engine is caught in a flood, water can undermine lubrication, short out electrical parts or wiring, corrode the metal parts, and many more.

Any of these will lead to engine components failing and electrical power not being supplied to where it’s needed.


Although I've mentioned this reason a couple of times earlier, but it's worth mentioning that the presence of any kind of leaks in or around the engine is bad news, whether it's an oil leak or coolant leak.

Each type of leak will lead to a different kind of engine damage. For example, a coolant leak could lead to overheating, while an oil leak could decrease lubrication inside the engine.

That’s why it’s crucial to pay attention to any patches on the ground where you park your car overnight, as that’s often the first sign of a problem.

Wrong Fuel

Last but not least, one of the quickest ways to damage your engine parts is by using the wrong fuel. Remember that modern automotive engines are engineering marvels, and they’re designed to work with a specific type of fuel (whether it’s petrol or diesel).

Switch to the wrong kind of fuel, and everything inside the engine goes crazy.

As I’ve said, these unfortunate events are all too common, unnecessary, and thankfully, they’re avoidable! So, be more watchful and proactive in keeping your engine in good health.

Here are more tips to keep engine damage issues at bay. 

5 Easy Ways You Can Do to Prevent Car Engine Damage

Those 5 causes of engine damage are far too common for comfort. Leaks, overheating, low oil level – they can happen any time. So, if you’re worried about ruining your car’s engine, that’s a valid concern. The good thing is that there are as many ways to prevent that from happening as there are things that could ignite it.

Here are five easy ways you can prevent car engine damage:

  1. Don't Ignore the Check Engine Light: First and foremost, never ignore your Check Engine light when it comes on. Sure, the light could mean a long list of different things, many of which might be completely harmless. However, the light can also signify a major problem, so get it checked out immediately.
  2. Treasure Your Cooling System: There’s only one thing preventing your hot engine from overheating and ‘killing’ itself, and that’s the cooling system. So, learn to love the system, check it for leaks, top up coolants, and never skimp on its repairs. The cooling system could mean life or death for your engine.
  3. Check for Leaks: Always be on the lookout for leaks. That could be as simple as glancing over at your parking spot every time you back your car out of the driveway. Or, any time you pop the hood, take a minute or two to scan for leaks with a flashlight. Finding and fixing a leak while it’s small will go a long way to protecting your engine.
  4. Change Your Filters: Two critical things continually enter your engine: air and oil. Some filters remove impurities from both, but the filters will get saturated after some time. That's why you must have them changed periodically to protect your engine from impurities that could damage it from the inside.
  5. Top-Up Your Fluids: Last but not least, top up all fluids. Even without leaks, those fluids naturally decrease over a period. As such, you must ensure your engine has enough of them to function correctly, whether it’s engine oil, coolant, or anything else.

No matter how well you take care of your car and its engine, there will eventually come a day when some of its parts will fail and need to be replaced. When that happens, you can use the Part Finder at to help you locate the engine parts you need!

By Ray Hasbollah

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