How to Troubleshoot Engine Coughing

by John Walker
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chrome engine image by Thomas Czeizinger from

Car problems can be scary. When your vehicle begins to behave alternately from what you expect, you never know firsthand what the issue may be or even if your car will last the week. Learning to troubleshoot issues is a good way to gain confidence in controlling your vehicle's health. A major area of concern is engine coughing. Troubleshooting that is a priority as it deals with your engine's performance. The process is relatively simple.

Step 1

Run the vehicle daily for 15 minutes or once a week for about a half-hour to avoid accumulation of dust and air bubbles in the fuel line.

Step 2

Start the vehicle and let it run for a while. If the vehicle coughs at startup and tapers off after running for a while, you likely have bad gas. Run the tank to almost empty before refilling and add some fuel cleaner to the tank.

Step 3

Check your air filter to determine if it is clogged or damaged; it could be choking the engine or allowing debris to pass through. Replace the damaged or clogged air filter and add some fuel cleaner on your next fill-up.

Step 4

Idle the vehicle to determine if the fuel pump is failing, if the fuel line is clogged or if the injectors are damaged or dirty. If the vehicle has a carburetor and the vehicle coughs when idling, the carburetor could be damaged or clogged.

Step 5

Drive the vehicle. If the engine is coughing while driving and not at idle, the issue is almost certainly dirt and debris in the fuel line. Run the tank dry and add fuel cleaner to the next fill-up.

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