Engine Noises

8 Engine Noises You Shouldn’t Ignore

Mechanical breakdowns are some of the most frustrating challenges car owners face. We count on our vehicles every day, and a sudden ‘check engine’ light can be a troubling sight. Here, we’ll take the guesswork out of some of the most common engine sounds.

Tapping and Knocking

These noises are easy to ignore if they start softly. If they get louder with acceleration, there may be a problem with the valve train or oil pump. Bringing your car in for auto repair Columbus OH may prevent a minor issue from turning into a major problem.

Banging and Clanging

If you hear a loud banging noise from the engine, pull over immediately. By scheduling a diagnostic test now, you may prevent complete engine failure.

Whining and Rattling

Car engines have hundreds of moving parts, and all it takes is one loose belt to keep everything else from working. A whiny rattle may indicate a misaligned or damaged serpentine belt. If you’re not sure how to fix it, bring your vehicle in for a professional evaluation and a reliable repair.


Like most of the other sounds on our list, squealing noises typically worsen if ignored—so it’s best to get them checked out quickly. A high-pitched squeal coming from the engine may be due to a loose or torn drive belt, and a skilled technician can replace or tighten it right away.

Rough Idling

When a vehicle idles, the engine should emit a steady rumble. When it starts to surge or threatens to stall, however, it’s time to schedule an engine diagnosis.

Grinding and Groaning

These noises are some of the toughest for technicians to diagnose. If your car’s engine is groaning or grinding, it may be due to loose, worn, or improperly lubricated parts. Failing brakes can make similar sounds, and our technicians can diagnose them.

Pressurized Whistling

Today’s vehicles need hundreds of seals and hoses to run efficiently. If any of these have a leak or a crack, you may hear a sound much like that made by a hot tea kettle. Your service technician will use the sound’s location and timing to determine the nature of the problem.

Roaring and Rumbling

When a car idles, it shouldn’t sound like it’s revving up for a race. Excessive noise at idle may indicate problems with internal engine pressure. Call a local service center to schedule an evaluation.

What to Do If Your Engine is Making Noise

If you hear noises such as those described above, don’t ignore them. While sounds and their origins may vary by vehicle make, model, and condition, they still mean that something’s wrong. By resolving problems early, you’ll save time, money, and frustration and you’ll keep your car around longer.

That’s why we recommend preventive maintenance to our customers. When vehicles are regularly serviced and inspected, we’re more likely to catch small issues before they become complex and costly.

While not all breakdowns are preventable, most can be avoided. When drivers acknowledge the importance of odd engine noises and other signs, they can schedule service immediately. Although repairs may be required, it’s better to bring your car in for service than it is to be stranded. Learn more about our auto repair services online or call to schedule a diagnostic appointment.