Symptoms of a Cylinder Head Misfire

Categories: Cylinder Head Tips

A cylinder head misfire can be a concerning occurrence for any vehicle owner, but it’s actually fairly common as vehicles and engines start to age. If you’ve been wondering what happens if a cylinder is misfiring, we’re here to share the symptoms of this issue and what it should feel like if your vehicle has this problem. We hope this will help you keep your vehicle in top condition going forward and take swift action to avoid further damage to your engine should a cylinder head misfire occur.

What Happens if a Cylinder is Misfiring? Is it a Common Vehicle Problem?

A cylinder misfire can happen for a few different reasons, but a misfire is when the cylinder stops producing power and working effectively. This vehicle issue typically occurs in older vehicles and engines, where the spark plug typically lasts for around 12,000 miles or so. Newer vehicles don’t have this issue as often, but faults with the cylinder heads and engine can also cause this issue. Other causes for a cylinder misfire include a fuel injector clog, faulty emissions systems, vacuum leaks, a leaking seal or gasket, or a failed ignition coil.

As you start to drive, you may notice that your engine feels like it is losing power, which is a sign of an engine misfire. As you try to accelerate your car, the vehicle may hesitate, or you may feel this process is slower than usual to speed up the car. When a cylinder head misfires, you’ll also find more vibrations than usual, or there may be an unusual popping or banging sound. Of course, these could indicate other issues, but some of these symptoms would usually indicate a cylinder head misfire.


What Does A Cylinder Misfire Feel Like?

When a misfire occurs, the engine will stumble or lose RPMs (revolutions per minute), and then it will usually return to its typical engine speed. This problem is rarely a one-off issue and will likely come back again in the future when operating under the same conditions. A cylinder misfire can also occur when the engine is idling, making it feel rough or uneven compared to usual.


What Causes Engine Misfire At Idle?

If you notice an engine misfire at idle, you might be wondering what the cause of this issue is. The ignition system components, such as spark plugs, ignition coils, plug wires, and ignition timing, are often the main causes of mechanical issues such as an engine misfire. If the valves or cylinder walls start to wear down, this can add to the issue when the car is idle. Keep in mind there are many causes of rough idling, but a cylinder head misfire is a common issue within older or worn-out engines.


Is It OK/Safe To Drive With A Misfiring Cylinder?

While, in theory, you could still drive thousands of miles with a misfiring cylinder, we don’t recommend ever doing this. The other cylinders in the engine will continue to give power to the vehicle, so while you may feel shaking and stalling on your journey, the car can still operate. However, this may cause long-term damage to your vehicle, so we always recommend seeing a mechanic or replacing your cylinder head as soon as possible to avoid further concerns.

Leaving the cylinder head without treatment for an extended period of time could lead to serious damage to your engine. A bad misfire during a journey could result in an accident, which is why we encourage you to make this repair as soon as you detect an issue. When your vehicle isn’t able to accelerate at the needed speed, it could make overtaking or avoiding hazards a challenge, leading to safety concerns on the road no matter how confident of a driver you are.

How Much Does It Cost To Fix A Cylinder Misfire?

The reason for the cylinder misfire will dictate the cost of fixing this issue. You’ll find that a repair or replacement can cost between $100 and $1,000, depending on the severity of the misfire. Poor fuel delivery would likely set you back between $200 and $1,000, whereas a faulty spark plug wire is on the lower end of the repair costs at just $100 to $300. The age of your car, the cost of the parts you need, and the cost of the labor required will all be factors that combine to give you the overall cost of the repair after a cylinder misfire. You may be able to DIY this job, but we recommend working with a mechanic if you aren’t very confident about completing this task.


If I Need To Replace the Cylinder Heads in My Vehicle, How Much Should I Expect To Spend?

Completely replacing the cylinder head will set you back much more than a smaller repair. The make and model of your vehicle will have a big impact on the overall cost, as will the parts that are required and the labor time and cost. Expect this job to cost an average of $3,000, with this price increasing for some vehicle models and auto shops. The cost includes two parts, with the labor costs usually coming in between $1,200 and $1,500 and the parts costing about $800 to $1,800 for most vehicles.

A cylinder head misfire is something that many vehicle owners may experience during their vehicle’s life. While it can be concerning to feel some of the symptoms of this issue, the good news is that it can quickly be resolved within most vehicles to ensure you remain safe on the road. While you may think that you can continue driving with this issue, it’s not something we ever recommend doing for your safety and security. Repairs and replacements can be done for your car at most auto shops, and you’ll just need to work with the team to see the best solution to your unique issues.


The Cylinder Head Experts

Clearwater Cylinder Head (CCH) is a reputable dealer of cylinder heads with over 25 years of experience. We ship quality and warranty-backed rebuilt cylinder heads across North America from our headquarters in Clearwater, Florida. With a large online catalog of cylinder heads, we probably have the cylinder head(s) for your vehicle repair needs. Please call Clearwater Cylinder Head at 1-800-572-1963.