Should You Repair Internal Engine Damage?

Most of your car's components are not monolithic parts. Instead, they're composed of many smaller and often more sophisticated elements. For example, your car's starter is a powerful electric motor with many potential failure points. In most cases, these parts are cheap enough that an internal failure means replacing the whole unit is more cost-effective than the labor involved in repairing it.

However, your engine is one of a handful of parts (along with your transmission) where this may not be true. Improper maintenance or high mileage can lead to internal engine damage, impacting vehicle performance or leading to excessive oil consumption. Replacing your entire engine can be incredibly expensive, so a repair is often an option worth considering.

What Is Internal Engine Damage?

Internal engine damage (sometimes referred to as mechanical engine damage) affects the various components inside the cylinder head or engine block. In most cases, these components should last the engine's life, but they can sometimes fail prematurely. Common causes of excess wear include overheating, low oil pressure, or infrequent oil changes.

Mechanical damage can take many forms but typically includes blown-out gaskets, weak piston rings, and burnt valves. In addition to causing other issues, these problems reduce the engine's ability to maintain compression and hold fluids in place. As a result, oil can burn up in the combustion process, or coolant and engine oil may mix, ruining both and reducing engine lubrication.

Recognizing the Signs of Mechanical Damage

Drivers often discover mechanical damage when it begins to affect driveability. For example, a blown head gasket can lead to excessive oil consumption, constant overheating, and noticeable puffs of white smoke from the exhaust. Less severe problems often cause the engine to idle roughly or consume oil. Although symptoms vary, severe internal wear often causes an engine to feel noticeably rough.

Note that these problems may not immediately trigger a check engine light or any other diagnostic information. Your car's computer cannot detect the internal state of your engine, so error codes often revolve around symptoms such as excessive temperatures, lost oil, or misfiring.

Deciding to Repair Mechanical Damage

Dealing with mechanical damage can be a challenging decision. Fixing internal engine parts requires tearing down and rebuilding your engine. Although the individual components are rarely expensive, the labor can be pricy. In some cases, fixing a motor with this kind of damage may cost several thousand dollars.

If your vehicle is relatively new and worth more than the cost of a rebuild, then repair is still usually the best option. A complete rebuild can help restore your engine to near-factory condition, so the high price potentially means getting many more years of life from your vehicle. Although you'll need to decide for yourself if this repair fits your budget, it's often worthwhile to keep an otherwise reliable car running.

Call an auto repair shop for more information.