Difference Between Misfire and Backfire (With Table)

Car engines often pose some difficulties in operations and smooth functioning. If this goes undetected, it often causes damage to the car. Misfire and Backfire are common terminologies used to highlight the reasons behind the engine failure or abrupt functioning. They are the reasons behind one or more similar problematic occurrences. 

Misfire vs Backfire 

The main difference between Misfire and Backfire is that in Misfire, the process of combustion is incomplete. It means that the engine fails to start or launch. On the other hand, a Backfire occurs when the combustion process occurs outside the cylinder chambers. This affects the performance and fuel capacity of the car. 

Misfire occurs when the car engine is incompetent to generate the adequate energy and power required to ignite the engine. Misfires can happen intermittently. There are various causes of a misfire. It is indifferent to the temperatures of the car engine as a misfire can occur when the engine is hot, cold, or warm. 

Backfire is also called Afterburn. It refers to an explosion in the car engine governed by the inconsistent happenings in the exhaust system and not in the combustion chamber. It is called Afterburn when the valve is openly pushing the air in the backward direction and sounds like a pop sound. 

Comparison Table Between Misfire and Backfire 

Parameters of Comparison




Cylinders not being able to ignite the engine, taking a long time to start the engine. 

The main reason is that there is too much fuel and less air for successful combustion.

Type of Damage

It harms the car engine in the long run.

It harms fuel efficiency, leads to power loss, and harms the engine power. 


Car shakes during acceleration and runs unevenly.

A mild popping sound or low gurgling voices comes from the engine. 

Is it Easy to Detect?

Misfires are easily detectable as the car shakes and harms the smooth driving experience.

It is detected by sound but sometimes it may take time to detect the problem areas. 

Are the Terms Interchangeable?

A misfire can turn into a backfire in case of unsuccessful combustion of one or more cylinders. 

A backfire cannot cause a misfire. 

What is a Misfire?

Misfires are disturbances in the engine that may cause the engine to vibrate often. It hampers the daily running capacity of the car. You can detect a misfire by looking at the engine light that starts to illuminate in case of a failure. 

Misfires affect the fuel economy and double up the emissions because of non-combusted gasoline in the engine. It is crucial to identify the cause of a misfire as it may harm the overall functioning of the car in the long run when neglected. There are various detection tools and systems to check whether the cylinders are functioning or causing misfires. 

Earlier, Misfires were caused due to the spark plugs that needed to be altered and replaced over time as the ceramic insulation would crack. Modern technologies have repelled against such concerns and allow car drivers to undergo long journeys without trouble. Other common causes of Misfire include dirt clogging by carbon or dirt in the fuel injector. Old and damaged ignition coils can also lead to a misfire.  

Misfires are serious problems. They should not be neglected and treated as the priority, especially in the case of infrequent engine functioning. It is crucial to amplify the car’s functioning by removing or replacing the necessary parts. 

What is a Backfire?

A backfire is the outcome of the non-combusted fuel found in the exhaust system or the ignition that is an open valve. It is assumed that the rusty and outdated trucks are likely to backfire. But, it can occur in any car irrespective of the engine lifespan.  

To ensure the pepper functioning of the engine, the valves in the engine must work cohesively. There are two kinds of valves inside the cylinder of a modern combustion engine- The exhaust valve and the intake valve. The intake valve lets the air in and ignites the engine to generate power. The exhaust valve allows the byproducts to release from the combustion exit through the exhaust. 

It is critical for smooth car performance. The valves should open and close continuously at specific periods. They usually operate a hundred times in a minute. If this timing is affected by any means, this leads to a backfire. 

Another element that may cause a backfire is the damaged valves. When valves are unable to handle a sudden movement cautiously, the engine system fails. It may cause the valves to crack or bend. It repels the sealing system and leads to a backfire. A backfire needs to be addressed immediately.

Main Differences Between Misfire and Backfire 

  1. Misfires can occur when the fuel is unable to reach the combustion chamber and there is only air inside it. On the other hand, backfires happen when there is zero to minimal air and high amounts of fuel. 
  2. To identify misfires, check the trouble codes with specially designed systems and scanning tools. Backfire is detected by the forward motion and power loss in the car.
  3. You can fix a misfire by timely replacing and removing the faulty spark plug. You can stop the backfire by changing oxygen sensors and ceasing air leaks. 
  4. Misfire is more likely to occur as compared to backfire complications. It is due to the advancement in technologies for backfire.
  5. When misfire goes undetected, it can lead to car explosion when exhaust gases come in contact with the lubricating oil. Backfire is less likely to cause an explosion.


Misfire and Backfire are essential components in a car engine combustion system. When undetected, it may hamper the life of a car immensely. There are numerous technological advancements for engines reducing the harmful effects of hazards like misfires and backfires. 

Though the chances for such hazards are less on a vast level, they are often devastating. They hamper internal structures of the car like the combustion system, exhaust, valves, etc.

A specialized person should be referred in case the engine vibrates on moving, takes time to pick up on numerous occasions, and moves abruptly. Taking timely causes extends the car life. 


  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0016236121014344
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360319912012256