An approach to fault diagnosis for internal combustion engines is considered. It is based on the estimation of cylinder indicated torque by means of sliding mode observers. Instead of measuring indicated pressure in cylinders directly, crankshaft speed is measured as the input of observers, which estimate the indicated torque. Several engine models are considered with different levels of complexity. The indicated torque estimation using sliding mode observers is based on the equivalent control method. The estimation technique is validated experimently on a research engine.