What Does It Mean When A Car Backfires?

December 4, 2023

A car is a road vehicle that uses an internal combustion engine to power itself around and carry passengers or cargo. Typically powered by petrol, a car is built out of steel and rides on four wheels and can seat one to eight people.

When you hear a sudden burst of flames or gunfire from underneath the hood of your car, it means that your engine is backfiring. This can be an annoying problem if it happens often, but can lead to serious damage to the engine and exhaust system if left unchecked. This article will explain what does it mean when your car backfires and give you some advice on how to fix it.

How Does Your Car Backfire?

The engine in your car is a system that uses controlled explosions to create the energy necessary to move it. The process starts when the intake valve opens and pulls a mixture of fuel and air into the engine. When the piston compresses the mixture, a spark plug is "fired", creating a small controlled explosion that burns all of the fuel. In some cases, this may not happen - the mix could be too rich and leave unburnt fuel when the exhaust valve opens.

Another cause of backfiring is when the spark is generated a little too early in the ignition cycle. This can result in the spark travelling down the wrong wire and hitting the exhaust pipe. The hot unburnt fuel mixes with the highly flammable oxygen in the exhaust and causes a backfire. This is also known as carbon tracking and can be caused by a dirty distributor cap or ignition coil, or simply from ageing and wear and tear on the wires and spark plugs.


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