engine professional standing near driver explaining engine

At Enginetech, we love the sound of an engine. Whether it’s the reverberation of a drag car thundering down a track, or the soothing purr of a luxury sedan, it’s music to our ears. However, there are several other noises that you never want to hear your car make, noises that we don’t love and that make every gearhead cringe. Here’s a few unpleasant engine sounds to watch out for:

High pitched metallic pinging

This could indicate an issue with ignition timing, known as detonation. Detonation can be corrected by increasing the octane level of your fuel to reduce pressure on the manifold. There may also be deposits on your engine’s cylinder walls causing this sound, especially if that sound is accompanied by other noises, like knocking.


Knocking sounds coming from your engine could be telling you several things; are your lifters clogged? Is your combustion timing out of sync? Is your engine overheating? Is a tiny elf trying to escape from under the hood? What on earth might it be?! It could also mean backpressure from your exhaust, or carbon buildup on your cylinder walls and/or combustion chambers. Simply put, the list of possibilities goes on and on. Therefore, if you hear knocking sounds from your engine, it’s best to have a professional look at your engine to diagnose the issue.


A popping noise can also be caused by several potential problems. Worn spark plugs, clogged air filters, rotator issues, faulty ignition wires, and dirty fuel filters are just a few possibilities. Just like a knocking sound, the cause of a popping noise is tricky to diagnose and should be assessed immediately by a professional.


If you hear any banging noises, it’s time to take your car into an auto repair shop STAT. Banging noises are like knocking and popping and can result from many of the same root causes…none of them good.

Ticking or Tapping

It may be time to top up your oil. If there is an insufficient amount of oil being circulated to the engine, it can result in a ticking noise. If this is indeed the cause of the sound, the sound should stop when you increase the oil volume so that the correct oil pressure is met. However, this could also be the sound of worn or dirty lifters, which would require replacement of those parts.

There are many noises that should be a cause of concern if you hear them while on the road. The best thing to do is always take you car immediately to a professional to see what may be going on. We recommend this before investigating and dismantling anything in your engine by yourself, as many part warranties cease to apply when a part has been tampered with or dismantled by a non-professional. However, a little knowledge of what a sound might be can help you realize that your engine needs some immediate attention. There is always an explanation for a weird engine sound, and they should never, ever, be ignored.


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Irvin Beachell · September 15, 2022 at 8:14 am

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