Is It Safe When Driving With A Misfiring Cylinder?

Driving with a misfiring cylinder is not safe under any condition. It can cause severe damage to your car’s engine and thus most people advise not to drive with this problem. 

Now, if you are thinking about what causes a cylinder misfire, well, it is the bad spark plugs or the imbalanced air or fuel mixture, which is responsible for the misfiring cylinder.

Understanding The Risk Of Driving With A Misfiring Cylinder

It is the car’s cylinder that is an essential part of the engine and where the combustion occurs. The right amount of combustion is necessary for delivering the needed power to your car for running high. 

As per the type of engine in your car, there can be up to 12 cylinders in it. And if you are thinking that damage in any one of them won’t make a difference, then you should again give it a thought.

It entirely depends upon the damaged cylinders. How long can I drive with a misfiring cylinder? 

If more of the cylinders are misfiring, you won’t be able to move far whereas with a single damaged and misfiring cylinder, it is possible to drive a bit but that too with a higher risk quotient.

Now, driving with a misfiring cylinder causes a significant power loss in the car.

For example, if your car has 4 cylinders and all are working fine, your car will be running with 100% power. But, on the other hand, if any 1 cylinder, out of the 4, gets damaged then your car’s power will drop by 25%.

Once you get aware of what causes a cylinder misfire, the next thing that you should pay attention to is the effects that a misfiring cylinder can cause. 

Is cylinder misfire safe to drive? Definitely no! But what makes it so unsafe to continue driving with a misfiring cylinder? It is the effects that it causes on your vehicle.

cylinder misfire
The effects on the car are a clear reflection of what happens when a cylinder misfires. (Photo: Car Treatments)

1. Lower Car’s Performance

The first and foremost effect that driving with a misfiring cylinder will bring is a reduction in the car’s performance. 

As with one misfiring cylinder, the load will get on the other cylinders and they will have to put in more effort for pulling the vehicle, this will reduce the car’s performance to the maximum.

There can be a high chance that the enhanced load will damage the other working cylinders as well.

2. Abnormal Vibrations

Power loss and strange vibrations are two of the most obvious symptoms that your cylinder is misfiring. 

Because the cylinder drives the engine, your fuel efficiency will deteriorate dramatically as the other operating cylinders adjust for the lack of power. 

If your car shakes while idling in a very abnormal way, this is a symptom of a misfire. 

When these signals are combined, they are certain indicators that your cylinder is misfiring and should be checked by a mechanic as soon as possible.

3. Reduced Fuel Efficiency

It is quite obvious that by lowering the performance of the car, your car’s fuel efficiency will also be reduced. 

It will demand more fuel for its functioning and working and this will demand frequent fuel refills. Thanks to this, your car’s average while driving will also reduce to almost half of what it was before.

driving with a misfiring cylinder
Driving with a misfiring cylinder results in fuel waste. (Photo: PakWheels)

4. Noise

How can you forget the unbearable noises that come when you are driving with a misfiring cylinder

These noises from your car are an indication of the fact that something is wrong with your car and it needs your attention.

If these noises are left unmanaged, they will increase with time and will eventually damage the car. Therefore, it is better to pay attention to these noises before they damage the car in such a way it cannot be recovered ever.

5. Engine Damage

Last but not least, the misfiring cylinder will degrade the car’s engine and it will not perform in its desired way. Also, the output expected from the car’s engine will not be the same. 

You don’t need to mention how long I can drive with a misfiring cylinder.

driving with misfiring cylinder
The misfiring cylinder will degrade the car’s engine. (Photo: Pixabay)

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The damaged engine will also introduce some other car issues which, if left ignored, will damage your car. We are sure you certainly don’t want that. Isn’t it?

How Long Can You Drive With A Misfiring Cylinder

In most automobiles, you could theoretically travel thousands of miles with a misfiring cylinder. The engine’s other cylinders will continue to produce power. 

So, even if you shake and stall along the wall (and don’t acquire much speed or acceleration), the car will still operate. However, you should not drive a car with a misfiring cylinder any further than necessary.

When a misfire is detected, many modern vehicles enter “limp mode,” restricting maximum speed and making the vehicle unpleasant to drive. 

As a result, you might drive with a misfiring cylinder for a time. The best solution is to drive it as far as the next mechanic or safe location to halt, then make repairs before continuing. 

How To Fix A Misfiring Cylinder Yourself?

Identifying the source of the problem is the first step in making remedies. The most convenient choice for most individuals is to visit a mechanic. 

That being said, if you are a do-it-yourselfer and want to give it a go, this is how to fix a misfire:

  • Step 1: Using an OBD2 scan tool, look for any diagnostic issue codes associated with misfires. This can aid in your diagnosis.

Even codes unrelated to misfires, such as those relating to the fuel delivery system, MAF sensor, or oxygen sensors, which are caused by the same conditions that cause the misfire, can occasionally be useful. 

  • Step 2: Locate and plug any leaks in the fuel system’s vacuum lines. Air leaks are a main source of a poor air/fuel ratio, which is a typical cause of misfires. 
  • Step 3: Examine the spark plugs for any damage. Replace them if they are stained with oil or worn. 
examine spark plugs
Examine the spark plugs for any damage. (Photo: Car Treatments)
  • Step 4: Use a fuel pressure gauge to test your fuel system. If the reading is low or inconsistent, the fuel filter or the fuel pump itself should be replaced. 
  • Step 5: Using a multimeter, check the coil pack of the spark plugs. The resistance across the spark plug wires should be the same. If this is not the case, a coil must be changed. 

Because misfires can have a variety of reasons, detecting and resolving the problem can be difficult. This is one of the reasons why, unless you are an experienced DIYer, it is frequently advisable to go to a technician. 

FAQs on Driving With A Misfiring Cylinder

  1. Is it costly to repair a misfiring cylinder?

A cylinder repair or replacement might cost between $100 and $1,000. Different causes of misfires result in differing degrees of damage that each cost a different amount to rectify. 

  1. Can a cylinder misfire be repaired itself?

A cylinder misfiring does not simply disappear; they must be addressed promptly. Even if they don’t become much worse, they won’t get any better unless you have the car serviced.

  1. What sensors are capable of causing a misfire?

Misfires can be caused by a blocked or failing exhaust gas recirculation or crankcase ventilation valve, as well as a malfunctioning oxygen sensor.

  1. How can you avoid an engine misfire?

Following the prescribed maintenance in your handbook is the best method to avoid an engine misfire situation. Maintain your vehicle’s engine to manufacturer specifications.

A yearly trouble-code scan by a well-equipped shop can also reveal any possible issues before they become severe issues.

  1. Can misfiring cylinders make a car overheat?

An engine misfire is a defect in which one or more of the engine’s cylinders do not work. It causes excessive engine wear and overheating, as well as scuffing of piston and cylinder surfaces.

Check out this video from Helpful DIY to learn more about some common symptoms of a car misfiring while driving!


With this information about driving with a misfiring cylinder, you clearly would have known the answer to the concern is cylinder misfire is safe to drive.

You should avoid driving your vehicle with a misfiring cylinder for maintaining its performance in the long run.

If you still have any doubts about the car’s functioning with the misfiring cylinder, comment below! We would get back to you with the best advice and information.