6 Engine Noises That Could Mean Trouble

The longer you drive your car, the more you get to know it’s quirks – the sound it makes when it starts, the whirring of the AC, the small creak when you hop into the driver’s seat. These sounds are all part of a car, but it’s when the sounds change that you should start to worry.

But how do you know what sounds to look for? First off, identifying a new sound is step one. Then, we want to determine what part of the car it’s coming from. If it’s your engine, there’s a couple different noises we could be dealing with. Whether it’s a ticking noise in your engine, a clicking noise in your engine, or a knocking noise in your engine, we’ll help you identify the sound and what to do next (hint – you’re going to want to call a good mechanic).


A hissing sound could mean a couple different things. Typically it indicates that there is a leak of some sort. The hissing sound you’re hearing is often the result of the liquid from the leak (possibly oil or coolant) falling onto a hot surface on the engine. A vacuum leak could also lead to a hissing sound, which could potentially be accompanied by rough idling or stalling out.


If you’re experiencing engine knock, which is more of a tapping or pinging noise, then it is likely due to incorrect fueling. This sound happens when a portion of the fuel in one of your engine’s cylinders is detonating before the rest of the fuel rather than all at once. You likely didn’t put the correct type of gas in your car, but it’s also possible that your knock sensor is damaged or simply incorrect ignition timing.

Popping or Sputtering

While all of the sounds on this list indicate that you should get your car checked out ASAP, this is a sound that could have a variety of different causes, meaning that you should let the experts determine what’s wrong. It’s possible that you have an issue in your fuel system, maybe a clog of some sort that is preventing the engine from functioning properly. It could also be that spark plugs are dirty or worn, which could eventually lead to your car not starting at all. There’s also a chance that it’s your catalytic converter.

Tapping or Clicking

More often than not, tapping, ticking, or clicking indicates that your car is low on oil. This is your friendly reminder that you need to change your oil! Too many car owners let it go way too long before getting their car’s oil changed. Get yourself on a regular schedule and pay attention to your mileage. It’s an essential part of keeping your car running and in good condition. 


A whining noise from the engine when accelerating is likely due to a problem with the transmission. This could be because of low transmission fluid, due to a leak, or it could also be caused by worn gear. There are a number of other problems that could be causing this whining sound that are more serious, so be sure to get your vehicle checked.


If you hear a loud engine noise when accelerating that could be described as a squealing noise, then it’s possible that there’s an issue with one of the belts in your engine. If this is the case, it could be a quick fix. However, there’s always the possibility that it’s something else. How do you find out what’s actually wrong? Call us at GT Automotive! We’re here to diagnose whatever sound your car is making and help you get back on the road in no time!