The quick answer is it varies greatly and depends on how bad the problem is and how many cylinders you have.
For example, if you have an 8-cylinder engine and a spark plug wire is causing the misfire, it can be driven a long while before it shuts down.
The other working 7-cylinders will carry the non-working cylinder for a long time.
The vehicle will use more gas and not have as much power but will continue driving down the road.
If the same 8-cylinder engine has 3-4 misfiring cylinders, it will not be driveable and need to be repaired.
If too many cylinders are misfiring, the car or truck will not be drive-able.
A 4-cylinder will have much less room for error, with a 1-cylinder not working often, causing a vehicle to be undrivable.
What Causes of a Misfiring Cylinder?
There are many things that can cause a misfiring cylinder.
The most common cause is the electrical system, such as the spark plugs, plug wires, or coil having a problem.
In modern vehicles, there are also several sensors, such as crankshaft position sensors or camshaft position sensors, that can cause issues.
If the onboard computer ECM/PCM does not know the position of the crankshaft or camshaft, it will not know when to send a spark.
I recently ran into this problem with a 2006 Kia Spectra where the camshaft position sensor was sending the wrong data giving a P0335 error code.
I replaced the sensor but still had the same problem.
After a closer examination, the wires going to the sensor has a bad connection causing the sensor not to work.
Once the wire was repaired, the Spectra was back to driving good.
This is only one example, with many other causes of a vehicle misfire that will need to be troubleshot.
How to Troubleshoot a Misfiring Cylinder
If you do not have an OBDII scan tool, there are many low-cost budget scan tools available.
Many auto parts stores, such as Auto-Zone, will also have loaners available for a deposit.
Usually, there is a code which can be read and looked up online to point to the problem.
For example, the Kia I was working on with a misfire had an error code “P0335 Crankshaft Position Sensor “A” Circuit Malfunction Error Code.”
This pointed to the Crankshaft Position Sensor, which I replaced and later found to have bad wires that I repaired.
After the repair, the car ran fine, and the error cleared.
This is only an example, but the main step is to first read the error codes on the car or truck.
How to Find the Misfiring Cylinder?
Usually, reading any error codes on a car or truck onboard computer will point to the cylinder.
Another method is to use a Spark Plug tool on each spark plug to see if there is a spark.
Going one by one to each spark plug will show which spark plugs are not firing.
How Far Can You a Drive with a Misfiring Cylinder?
There is no way to answer this question reliably with too many factors in play.
How many cylinders the vehicle has and how many cylinders are misfiring all need to be considered.
If your car or truck is misfiring, it is best to get it to a mechanic or troubleshoot the problem yourself as soon as possible.
A vehicle that is misfiring is no doubt very frustrating.
How long it can be driven and how far it will go depends on several factors.
I have seen some owners drive a car daily with a misfire, and other times the problem escalates, leaving the driver stranded.
It is always recommended to get the vehicle to a garage as soon as possible to get it repaired.
If you have an OBDII scan tool, the vehicle ECM/PCM will display the error code and point to the problem.
Once this is known, the error codes can be Googled to see what the fix is and how to repair it.
Do you have a vehicle that is misfiring? Let us know your thought below.