You’ll surely agree with me that cars offer tons of benefits for us. They enable people to become independent and free to travel from one location to another with ease. However, they aren’t without issues.
One of the many problems you can encounter is when your car idles a bit rough in the driveway before smoothing out. If you often experience this issue, I’m sure you’ll be wondering why the car behaves like that.
If your car starts rough and then smooths out, you need to know that you’re not alone. Although rough idle is a common problem, it can be very difficult to point out its main cause. One of the factors that can make your car idle rough is vacuum leak. Other causes are unclean fuel injector, faulty carburetor, and spark plugs.
Is it normal for your car to run rough when cold? What are the common causes of rough idle in cars? Are sensors responsible for rough idle? In the rest of this post, you’ll find answers to these questions and more; so, keep reading.
Is It Normal for Your Car to Run Rough When Cold?
Before going ahead to answer the burning question above, let me start by talking about what engine idling means.
Engine idling is a situation where you kick start your vehicle but not drive it. The engine keeps running without moving forward or backward. This, oftentimes, occurs when you’re warming up your car early in the morning. It could also occur when the traffic light stops you or when you’re waiting for people to come into your car. That said, when your engine is idle, and you keep having rough and noisy experiences – this is rough idling.
So, let’s go back to the burning question of this post – is it normal to experience rough idling?
The answer to the question is simple!
No, it’s not normal for your car to run rough when cold. That said, if you’re experiencing this type of issue with your car, you might want to call on your repairer to diagnose your vehicle.
In case you don’t know, rough idle is a common issue that happens when your car is cold. Normally, with a perfectly working car, you should experience a smooth starting without any unexpected noise. So, when you encounter rough idling, it’s a sign that your vehicle is experiencing some issues, which you need to find out and address before it becomes too late.
Why Does My Car Start Up Rough?
Now that you know that rough idling of your car isn’t normal, here’s another question – what does the vehicle behave that way?
As earlier mentioned, it can be pretty difficult to point out the exact cause of the rough idling issue. That’s so because there are tons of factors that could cause the problem. You can check below to see some of them:
1. Vacuum leak
In automobiles, a vacuum leak is a common issue that happens when a certain amount of unwanted and unmetered air bypasses the engine intake tract. Normally, the engine is a powerful vacuum pump. It creates a vacuum as a result of the up and down movement of its pistons. The piston sucks air into the engine intake tract – this is where air mixes with fuel to produce energy.
The quantity of air that moves to the intake track is first measured inside the throttle body. However, when air bypasses this process, it leads to a situation called a vacuum leak. Rough idling is one of the few signs that your car might be experiencing a vacuum leak.
2. Faulty PCV valve
Apart from the vacuum leak, the rough idling issue in your car could be because of a defective Positive Crankcase Ventilation (PCV) valve. In case you don’t know, the PCV valve is what receives unburnt gases from the engine. It passes the gases to the crankcase, where they are sent back to the engine.
However, the valve can sometimes become blocked as a result of overstress. If this happens, it could lead to leaks, which could cause rough idling.
3. Dirty fuel injectors
Another likely reason why you’re experiencing the rough idling issue in your car is that the fuel injector is dirty. To confirm whether or not this is the cause of the rough idling issue, all you need to do is use an exhaust gas analyzer to diagnose the injector.
4. Defective spark plugs
The spark plug is the component that’s responsible for creating the spark that ignites the fuel in your car engine. When it’s faulty or not performing well, it could also cause your car to idle rough when cold.
5. Carburetor issues
If you’re using an older car model, it’s likely that your vehicle is using a carburetor instead of a fuel injector. The carburetor faces several different problems; one of them is black exhausts. Some of these issues can also cause the rough idling issue that your car is currently experiencing.
Other common causes of rough idling in cars include the following:
- Faulty Fuel Pump
- Defective Engine Temperature Sensor
- Faulty Airflow Sensor
- Low Compression
- Clogged Air Filter
- Defective Oxygen (O2) sensor
What Sensors Can Cause Rough Idle?
A couple of sensors can cause rough idling in your car.
- One of them is the mass airflow (MAF) sensor. It’s located between the air filter and the throttle body and works by measuring the air movement that goes into the engine to create combustion.
- Another one is the Engine Temperature Sensor or coolant temperature sensor, which helps to measure the amount of temperature of the coolant in the cooling system.
- Oxygen (O2) sensor is another type of sensor that can cause rough idling. The system is designed to monitor and analyze the oxygen level in a car’s exhaust system after combustion.
What to Do to Fix a Rough Start?
The very first thing I’ll advise you to do is discuss with your mechanic regarding the issue. Certainly, the repairer will know exactly where to diagnose and how to fix the issue.
The mechanic will have to run diagnostic tests on the components mentioned above that could cause the issue and provide the right solution. For instance, if the test shows that the problem is a result of a dirty fuel injector, the solution is to apply a fuel injector cleaner.