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9 Signs Your Engine Is About To Fail

Don't forget to include these items in your cockpit scan...

1) Low Oil Pressure

Oil is the lifeblood of your engine, keeping things cool, lubricated, and clean. If you notice dropping oil pressure, you might have a broken or cracked oil line. If you see it happen, plan to get on the ground before your engine fails.

Boldmethod

2) High Oil Temperature

Like low oil pressure, high oil temperature usually occurs when there's not enough oil inside the engine. The trace amount of oil remaining is circulating quickly throughout the engine and is struggling to keep things cool and lubricated.

Boldmethod

3) Dropping Fuel Flow

If you notice a drop in fuel flow, you might have an issue with a fuel pump, valve, or even a fuel line leak. The most common solution in checklists is to turn on the auxiliary fuel pump to re-introduce pressurized fuel to the system. If that doesn't work and fuel flow continues to decrease, your engine will eventually quit from fuel starvation.

Swayne Martin

4) Fuel Starvation

This one sounds pretty self-explanatory, but it's the most common reason engines fail. If you're running off of a tank that's nearly empty, you're putting yourself in a bad spot.

AviationStack

5) Engine Roughness

There's a variety of reasons an engine might run rough. Damaged components, carburetor ice, and improper mixture management are some of the most common reasons. Start looking for the cause right away, and if you can't solve it, plan to get on the ground before things get worse.

Jeffrey DelViscio

6) Drop In RPM Or Manifold Pressure

A drop in RPM or Manifold Pressure in a carbureted airplane is a sign that your engine has carburetor ice. If you don't correct the problem with carburetor heat, more ice could build up and cut off the fuel/air mixture required for your engine to run.

7) Rising Manifold Pressure

In airplanes equipped with a constant speed propellor, a rise in manifold pressure could be a sign that your engine is about to fail, or already has started to. As the engine fails, air pressure inside the engine will begin to return to ambient air pressure. For instance, if you're flying with 22 inches of manifold pressure and experience an engine failure on a standard day at sea level, manifold pressure in that engine will rise to approximately 29.92 inches.

Aaron Landry

8) Visible Leaks, Flames, Or Smoke

Notice fuel or oil steaming down the cowling, wings, or fuselage? Even worse, do you see flames or smoke coming from the cowling of your engine? These are some of the most dangerous signs of an oncoming engine failure.

Blyzz

9) Catastrophic Failures

In extreme cases, parts have been known to rip through the cowling and fly away. Entire pistons have ripped free of their connections in rare cases, puncturing the cowling and causing the engine to vibrate to the point of destruction.

J. Tewell

Swayne Martin

Swayne is an editor at Boldmethod, certified flight instructor, and an Embraer 145 First Officer for a regional airline. He graduated as an aviation major from the University of North Dakota in 2018, holds a PIC Type Rating for Cessna Citation Jets (CE-525), and is a former pilot for Mokulele Airlines. He's the author of articles, quizzes and lists on Boldmethod every week. You can reach Swayne at swayne@boldmethod.com, and follow his flying adventures on his YouTube Channel.

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