Sometimes cars are like people. At times they are trying to say something vitally important, and at other times, they are just talking. Our car engines speak to us in many different ways, but do we know how to interpret what they are saying? Do we know when it is something important? We should. It is possible to trouble shoot engine problems by the sound the engine is making. Everyone knows the normal sound of their engine. If your engine starts making any kind of a new noise, it’s time to pay attention!
Hissing: If you notice a hissing sound, the most probable cause is overheating. Another cause could be the exhaust system. You may want to have the catalytic converter.
Backfiring: This can occur in the front or rear of the car and is normally caused by some problem in the exhaust system.
Whirring: If the whirring increases proportionately to the rpm, it may be several things: Bad bearings in the alternator; low power steering fluid; a bad water pump; or a bad air conditioning compressor.
Hesitation: If you notice that your car seems to hesitate before gaining power, and especially if accompanied by a popping sound, the trouble may be; bad ignition wires; dirty air filter; problem with the distributor cap and/or an internal engine problem.
Tiny knocks: Usually heard on deceleration, but also on idling, this usually stems from loose rod bearings
Ticking: Could be caused by the fuel pump
Squealing: There are several things this can be, but it normally is the water pump
Clicking: This usually indicates a valve problem, and could be low oil pressure
Hard knocking: This can mean big trouble. Hard knocking sounds can mean big-time bearing problems within the engine.
These are only general guidelines, but they can help to ease the stress when hearing a new noise from the engine. Every new noise should be checked out as soon as possible. Ignoring it will only cause the problem to worsen, and could mean the end of your car. Often, checking the basic causes for the noise will eliminate the problem. Even simple things can cause sounds, such as the squeaking or squealing noises. Your engine is making noise indicating there is a problem. If you cannot find that problem yourself, take it into a professional. They can check every possible problem and pinpoint what to do about it. If you are able, get a second opinion. This will avoid the old “repair shop scam.” Engine noises cause a lot of stress and nervousness on the part of the car owner, and mechanics know this. Don’t let them manipulate you and your fears. If you made it to one service station, chances are, you can make it to the next.
Sometimes the noises start and stop. Don’t be lulled into thinking the problem is disappearing, because it isn’t. Especially if you hear the same noise more than once, it’s best not to take chances. It may be something simple, but better safe than sorry.