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 up to as many as 12 cylinders (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.
Here are some signs & symptoms to look out for if you believe you have a misfiring cylinder:
One of the biggest signs your cylinder is misfiring is the loss of power along with odd vibrations. Since the cylinder powers the engine, you will notice your fuel economy 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, and they are sure signs your cylinder is misfiring and needs to be looked at by a mechanic as soon as possible.
Another reason a cylinder misfires is because of a loss of spark. This can be something that stops coil voltage from hopping the gap at the end of the spark plug. Damaged, worn, or bad spark plugs, or a weak ignition coil can cause a loss of spark, and therefore, a misfiring cylinder.
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.
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, with no pattern. These are difficult issues to diagnose, so the vehicle needs to be looked at by a professional mechanic.
Driving with a misfiring cylinder is potentially dangerous. If you lose power while you are driving, or a second or third cylinder goes out, this can cause you to get into a car accident, potentially injuring you and others around you. If you suspect a misfiring cylinder, make an appointment with a mobile technician from YourMechanic as soon as possible to have your vehicle inspected and repaired.
This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as Is it Safe to Drive With a Misfiring Cylinder? and was authored by Valerie Johnston.