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What Happens When Your Engine Seizes? December 12, 2018

Dothan, Houston
What Happens When Your Engine Seizes?, Dothan, Alabama

Many vehicle owners expect their cars to be up and running all the time. But if yours has suddenly stopped or completely failed to function without warning, then you might have a seized engine. This means engine parts, such as rods and bearings, have become overheated to the point of fusing together. It happens due to several reasons, such as lack of lubrication, and a trusted auto mechanic will diagnose whether it’s a minor or severe seizure. From there, you’ll know what to do next with your engine.

What Are the Signs of a Seized Engine?

Sudden stopping or failure to start is a clear indication that your engine has seized. But before that happens, look out for other red flags, such as the following.

Unusual Sounds Coming From Your Engine

At first, you might hear light tapping or faint knocking noises, which gradually become louder when left ignored. When you hear a loud thudding without any metallic ring otherwise known as the “dead knock,” it means that your engine has fully locked up.

Flashing Oil Light 

auto mechanicPay attention to warning lights illuminating on your dashboard, such as the oil light indicator. When you notice this, you need to have the oil levels in your engine checked to see if you’ve run out of oil.

Electronics Work, But Your Engine Doesn’t

When radio, lights, and other electronics turn on while your gas level appears sufficient, then the issue is not with your battery or empty fuel tank. If you’ve tried cranking up the engine with no visible result, then your motor may have seized.

Burning Wires 

Keep an eye out for any smoke coming out of your engine; a seized engine will likely overheat electric wires as the starter tries hard to turn on the motor but fails. This is a stark sign an auto mechanic is needed.

Why Engines Seize

Lack of lubrication, especially if it leads to overheating, is among the most common reasons for seized engines. Your engine has many mechanical components working together and needs oil for proper lubrication. When it runs out of oil, any moving parts will rub and grind against each other, generating enough heat and friction to damage other components, and eventually, your engine. Another reason for a locked-up engine is water inside the combustion chamber, which happens when driving through deep puddles or floodwater. Since water won’t compress similarly as an air-fuel mixture would, this makes the piston unable to reach the top of its stroke during combustion. Your engine can also seize up when the fuel in the lines turns into vapor because of extreme heat. This starves your engine of needed fuel, causing it to lose power while running.

How to Address the Problem

Whatever the reason your engine has seized, always have an auto mechanic properly diagnose the issue. They will check for any damaged parts and determine what needs to be replaced. If the issue is widespread and has resulted in critical damage, they might recommend engine replacement; be sure to have a licensed expert handle any repairs or replacements to get your car up and running.


When your engine seizes, locks up, or suddenly stops, have a reliable auto mechanic from Bay Springs Auto Repair in Dothan, AL, look into it. They offer a full range of top-notch auto repair and car maintenance services throughout Houston, Dale, and Henry counties. Call (334) 692-4229 to schedule an appointment or visit their website.

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