Troubleshooting Engine Problems By Sound

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There is a lot that can be learned by listening to your engine. Is it telling you something important or is it just rambling on with nothing to say? If your car starts to change its tune, you should give it a listen. Nobody knows your engine better than you do. If it starts to sound odd, or even a little different, there could be a problem. If you catch these types of problems early enough you can avoid a lot of time at the repair shop later, not to mention the money!

If your engine is making a hissing sound from under the hood, you're looking at a number of possibilities. Do a proper investigation of the hissing sound before you dive into any repairs. A hasty solution may turn out to be more costly than it had to be. 

The Symptom: Whirring from the engine that gets worse as engine speed increases. Any noise that increases or decreases with engine rpm.

Possible Causes:

  1. Low power steering fluid.
    The Fix: Check and fill power steering fluid.
  2. The alternator bearings are bad.
    The Fix: Replace alternator.
  3. A bad water pump.
    The Fix: Replace water pump.
  4. Bad power steering pump.
    The Fix: Replace power steering pump.
  5. A bad air conditioning compressor.
    The Fix: Replace air conditioning compressor. (Not a DIY job)

The Symptom: Loud exhaust. There is a loud exhaust noise which may be coming from either the front or rear of the vehicle.

Possible Causes:

  1. Muffler or exhaust pipe worn out.
    The Fix: Replace muffler and/or pipes as required.
  2. Exhaust manifold cracked or broken.
    The Fix: Replace exhaust manifold.

The Symptom: Engine backfires when you press on the gas pedal. The engine runs like garbage. When you step on the gas the engine pops, spits, and backfires. Sometimes it's loud or not so loud. This can cause severe engine damage and/or underhood fire.

Possible Causes:

  1. Your camshaft timing belt or chain may have slipped.
    The Fix: Replace timing belt or chain.
  2. Your ignition timing needs adjusting.
    The Fix: Adjust ignition timing.
  3. There is a serious engine problem. You may have a burnt or broken valve, Worn or broken camshaft.
  4. Your spark plug wires are placed on the wrong spark plugs.
    The Fix: Check firing order and place the wires on the correct spark plugs.

The Symptom: Engine hesitates, and a popping is heard from the engine. When you step on the gas, the engine seems to bog down or takes a second to respond. You may notice a general lack of power. You may notice the problem when the engine is hot or cold or when you are low on fuel. The popping noise really tells you something is not right.

Possible Causes:

  1. You may have a dirty air filter.
    The Fix: Replace the air filter.
  2. The ignition wires may be bad.
    The Fix: Replace ignition wires.
  3. There may be some other type of ignition problem.
    The Fix: Check distributor cap or rotor. Ignition module may be bad.
  4. Internal engine problem.
    The Fix: Check compression to determine engine condition

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