5 Engine Noises You Don’t Want To Ignore

Every car produces its own set of noises. As the driver, you get used to these sounds and know that they aren’t a sign something is wrong. However, if those sounds start to change, the noises are more likely a sign something is also changing with the way your car operates. While it could just be something completely harmless, if those noises are coming from your engine, you want to get them checked. If you are experiencing any of these five noises, they shouldn’t be ignored.

1 – Clicking and Tapping

When you hear a clicking or tapping when driving, open your window and listen closely. If it gets louder or more noticeable when you accelerate and speeds up when you go faster, the noise is most likely caused by an issue with your tappet. Also called an upper valve train, this part controls air intake movement and your exhaust valves. This can be caused if the parts are worn, but also if there is low oil pressure. You can check your oil levels, and if all is well, it could be that your springs or camshafts are worn. Schedule an appointment with your auto shop to have it checked.

2 – Deep Knocking

Deep knocking is more worrisome as it might indicate something deeper in the engine is worn. It usually becomes noticeable when you change gears or speed up. Often related to the rod bearings, they could be either worn or loose. Either way sooner or later they will fail if you are hearing this noise. It could also be caused if you have an issue with the timing of the air-fuel mixture. Both problems call for a beeline to your auto repair shop. The car really shouldn’t be driven until a diagnostic is run to determine what is causing the noise. Proper engine tuning or a replacement or repair to the rods will keep your car safe on the road.

3 – Rattling and Whining

A slipping, damaged or poorly aligned camshaft belt can cause a rattling and whining noise. It is most audible when you accelerate. However, if it happens on a cold start, it could also be the timing chain. The more you hear the rattling on cold starts, the more likely it is you have a worn timing chain. Not all cars have timing chains, however.

While both timing chains and camshaft belts synchronize the motion of the valves and pistons, there are some differences between them, namely the materials used and their placement in the vehicle. The make and model of your car determine which one you have. Rattling and whining definitely call for a check with your auto shop.


4 – Squealing

Squealing also tends to happen on acceleration or when starting the engine cold. There is no denying when your engine is squealing. It is very loud and a clear sign you have fan belt issues. Because they tend to loosen over time when you start your engine your fan belt, or “serpentine” belt, starts to squeal when its old rubber teeth drag, and it can’t keep up with the pulleys controlling it. It can either be tightened or replaced by your auto mechanic. However, there is the possibility the squealing is being caused by low fluids. You can always check the engine oil level to see if it is low. Your best bet is probably to still have a professional opinion on what is causing the noise.

5 – Grinding

Last but not least, grinding when you shift gears usually indicates a problem with manual transmission. It happens when you have a faulty gearbox with gears grinding against each other. This can be caused when the clutch can’t completely separate the gearbox from the engine. However, it is also common if you don’t push the clutch down properly when trying to change gears. The second reason is more common for newer drivers or those not used to using a gearshift lever.

However, if you’ve had the car for a while and have been driving a clutch for years, it’s more likely the clutch system needs replacing. There is a chance it could actually be your brakes which can make this sound if the pads are worn. Both issues should be checked by an experienced auto mechanic as soon as possible.

Your car has its own way of telling you when something is wrong. Recognizing the cues in these tell-tale noises will ensure your car gets the attention it needs.

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