Engine Noise? Here’re 5 Fixes You Need to Know

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One of the greatest inventions of the late 19th and early 20th centuries is the motor vehicle and diagnosing engine noise.

Over the span of a century, the motor vehicle has evolved in highly sophisticated ways to not only help us to get from one place to another faster…

But also us navigate more efficiently.

There’s no denying motor vehicles are a fine piece of machinery that make our lives a lot easier, but they also require maintenance.

From periodic oil changes to tire rotations, occasional filters, and battery changes…

And keeping the car’s belts and fluids in check, all to ensure the vehicle remains functional and safe to drive.

While this may seem complicated, you can learn a lot simply by listening to your vehicle’s engine noise and providing your engine with the best lubricants, filters, and coolants possible.

Given the sophistication of vehicular technology, with poor maintenance, parts can wear and tear faster, overheat, and break down, even while in the middle of driving.

Not only does poor maintenance make motor vehicles unsafe to drive, but repairing them is often more costly than preventive routine maintenance.

One part that requires routine preventive maintenance to continue running smoothly is the engine as it is essentially the heart of the vehicle.

As such, any issues that exist with the engine need to be addressed as quickly as possible to avoid more serious problems further down the road.

This includes not ignoring any unusual engine noises like the five listed below.

engine noise

A Hissing Engine Noise

One of the first signs of trouble is a hissing engine noise coming from the engine.

This can be caused by any number of problems such as the engine overheating or fluid leaking into hot parts of an engine.

Other likely reasons for a hissing engine include leakages of any kind, such as the coolant leaking out or even exhaust and vacuum leaks.

The latter could be a symptom of vacuum or hose damage.

To properly diagnose the problem and get it repaired, a hissing engine should be inspected by an experienced mechanic.

engine noise

Squealing Brakes

Another common engine noise that’s experienced by motorists that shouldn’t be ignored is squealing.

While this engine noise doesn’t actually originate in the engine, it’s still a dangerous hazard while driving as squealing is symptomatic of poor brake maintenance.

More specifically, squealing is a strong indicator the vehicle’s breaks don’t have sufficient padding for protection, which can also cause grinding engine noises.

When the brakes especially start grinding, this is a road hazard as the brakes can fail and cause a collision.

It’s highly recommended that squealing brakes get treated early to ensure continued safe driving.

In many cases, the only part that needs to be replaced is the brake padding.

A Knocking Engine

Though not experienced as often by motorists compared to hissing and squealing, it’s still an engine noise mechanics commonly see and that is knocking.

This engine noise is usually symptomatic of a problem with the engine’s ignition system, which can be caused by any number of things.

One of the common reasons for knocking noise is the presence of fuel inside the cylinder or cylinder reduction.

Another problem in the engine’s ignition system that can cause knocking is poor fuel quality, such as the presence of fuel with a lower octane level than the engine is built for.

Four other problems that can cause knocking noise are carbon buildup and valve impingement, improper spark plug installation…

And a poorly functioning fuel injector that disrupts proper ignition.

engine noise

A Rumbling Muffler

Related to a knocking engine is a rumbling muffler, which is a health hazard for passengers.

A rumbling muffler is symptomatic of a misalignment in the vehicle’s exhaust system.

This can be caused by damage to the muffler itself, resulting in a hole that allows fumes from the exhaust to leak inside the vehicle, which risks carbon monoxide poisoning.

In cases where a rumbling muffler is accompanied by the vehicle shaking, this is usually symptomatic of a vehicle’s cylinders misfiring.

This in itself, is symptomatic of a poor spark plug.

A Popping Noise

Common engine noise


One of the more terrifying sounds a vehicle can make while on the road is a popping noise, which can be symptomatic of one of two problems.

The most common reason for vehicular popping sounds is engine exhaust leaks.

This means that an engine has more fuel in its system than it has air for proper combustion.

When this happens, it prevents the combustion from happening in a timely manner and the exhaust valves open too early, resulting in the loud popping sound.

The latter is especially caused by the exhaust spilling out of the cylinder while the engine is still igniting.

Another less common reason for a popping noise in a vehicle is a dirty air filter.

Don’t Wait For Problems to Get Worse

While each of these engine noises isn’t necessarily a cause for alarm right away, they still shouldn’t be ignored and should be looked into as soon as possible.

Not only can problems be quickly diagnosed and treated early.

But preventive maintenance can avert more costly consequences later on.

This includes expensive repairs to the vehicle and racking up medical bills from any injuries or illnesses sustained as a result of poor maintenance and/or an accident.

Even when the vehicle isn’t experiencing any strange noises or problems, routine preventive maintenance should be done on a regular basis to ensure that the vehicle stays in top shape.