Why Do Cars Backfire? (11 Reasons Why)

A backfire that suddenly appears in your exhaust pipe won’t immediately harm your vehicle. Still, it may be an early sign of trouble or an indication of a more uncomfortable situation.

However, it’s not actually a supernatural occurrence but the result of exploding spark plugs, which ignite the gas inside your cylinder. Here’s what we’re going to disclose about why cars backfire!

Why Do Cars Backfire?

1. Overheating

A car backfiring is a common problem that can be caused by overheating.

In order to prevent this, make sure that the engine is running at its best temperature and always keep an eye on the temperature gauge.

Besides that, if you notice that it is getting too high, reduce your speed or pull off the road to cool down.

Further, if left unchecked, this could lead to more severe problems like significant engine failure or even an explosion.

As a result, if your car backfires because of overheating, it can lead to other problems like engine wear and damage.

2. Uncontrolled Emissions

Two systems regulate exhaust emissions: the air-injection system and the exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) system.

However, uncontrolled emissions are anticipated to occur without control equipment unless such equipment is essential in meeting air pollution control criteria.

In that case, a rich air/fuel mixture is frequently why an emissions test fails. Thus, causing the car to flame up.

3. Spark Glitch

A spark glitch occurs when one or more of the electrodes in your coil is out of alignment, bent, or fractured.

First, you’ll notice that your car usually backfires when it’s idling or at rest. And second, you may start to see that your gas mileage drops and your car breaks down more frequently.

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Overall, this will result in the spark jumping from one electrode to another, which will cause the engine to backfire.

4. Increased Fuel-To-Air Ratio

A leaner ratio means less fuel in the air than there should be; this causes excessive combustion and results in backfiring engines.

Also, when an engine is “running rich,” it burns fuel slowly, forcing the additional air to burn the unburned fuel violently.

Generally, when the air/fuel ratio is too lean, the engine can backfire due to an excess of fuel burning, creating a spark.

5. Exhausted Pipe

Your car’s exhaust system includes the exhaust pipe, which expels exhaust into the air, similar to a chimney on the house.

In addition, exhaust pipes frequently have a bracket attached to the back of the automobile where they link to the muffler.

If this pipe becomes worn out, it can cause backfiring, which can be very annoying and damage your catalytic converter and engine if left untreated.

6. Engine Belt Defect

Engine Belt Defect

Your car’s engine has several parts that need to work together for you to drive safely and smoothly.

Aside from that, one of these parts is its timing belt, which keeps everything running smoothly by ensuring that all the spark plugs are firing correctly.

Consequently, if this belt ever gets damaged or breaks, it could cause your car to backfire that even comes with a flame flick.

7. Carbon Tracking

Carbon tracking happens when the ignition spark circumnavigates the plug rather than leaping the gap to create a spark.

At this time, carbon tracking occurs when a loose wire or sensor gets stuck in the distributor cap, causing the spark plug not to ignite fully.

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Because of this, your car’s fuel mixture will be too rich for combustion, which causes the engine to backfire.

8. Broken Distributor Cap

A distributor cap is a part that prevents the spark from going to the spark plug, which stops combustion.

Along with this, if there is carbon in the distributor, it will cause the distributor not to work correctly and, therefore, won’t allow the spark to go to your spark plug.

Without a doubt, a glimmer of flame can begin to radiate if you strike something too forcefully against your engine block.

9. Deteriorated Air Gulp Valve

Airflow to the engine is restricted when the air control valve malfunctions. Thus, engine suspension results from the car’s inability to get air.

Furthermore, when decelerating, it discharges air into the combustion chamber when broken.

For that reason, unburned fuel ignites through broken valves, resulting in an unexpected backfire.

10. External Chamber Combustion

Backfiring occurs when the internal ignition in your engine’s car experiences a moment of external combustion.

Apart from this, engine backfire is the explosion of gases outside of one or more of your engine’s cylinders’ combustion chambers.

On that account, these gases leak into the exhaust and ignite there, producing a loud noise where a flame emerges from the exhaust tailpipe.

11. Unburnt Fuel In Exhaust System

Unburned fuels are hydrocarbons that are released after burning petroleum in an engine. With that, this fuel enters the exhaust system due to malfunctioning or non-firing spark plugs.

In that case, some of that unburned fuel will stay in the exhaust system after you shut off your engine and make it backfire.

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To know more, you can also read our posts on why people steal cars, why bridges freeze before roads, and why your car is blowing white smoke but not overheating.


As you can see, you don’t need to be concerned about the issue with your car because backfiring is common in some vehicles.

In essence, a backfire is caused by overheating, unchecked emissions, and spark malfunction.

Ultimately, while it can be annoying or attention-grabbing at times, what’s more important is that you know why they’re occurring, so you can avoid potentially dangerous situations!

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