Eddie spent 35 years in the automotive business with Honda. He is an ASE Certified Master Technician and has bruised his knuckles to prove it.
What engine noise is normal?
A thumping or ticking noise from your engine is a sign that something is wrong.
It is usually due to one of these problems:
- Lack of lubrication
- Something has broken
- Something is about to break
Some engines have normal ticking noise caused by electrical components like injectors, relays and solenoids, and also the engine itself makes some noise turning thousands of RPM (revolutions per minute), but for the most part, engines generally should have just a smooth ticking noise without knocking noise.
If your engine develops a knocking noise while driving, it is usually quickly followed by a red or amber warning light on the dash notifying the driver that there is a problem. If the light is red, I highly recommend turning off the engine, red means STOP! If the light is amber, I recommend taking it easy until you get to a garage or service station, amber means CAUTION and the noise and light should be checked very soon by a trusted mechanic (not your cousin, a unless you have mechanical experience).
If your engine develops a ticking or pounding in a short period, the first thing to do is turn off the engine and check the oil level. You will need to find the engine oil dipstick and see if you need to add oil or if the oil level is up to the full line. If you cannot find the dipstick, ask for help; Don’t risk driving without checking the oil level first.
Reasons why the oil level may be low
There are several reasons why your engine oil level may be low. The most common cause is an oil leak. If you suspect you have an oil leak, check the ground where you normally park your car – most of the time you will find several drips or small puddles of oil on the ground or garage floor. If you can’t see any signs of leaks on the floor or garage floor, try placing a large piece of cardboard under the engine overnight and checking for leaks in the morning. This method generally checks for an oil leak clearly without any questions.
Upper and lower engine noises
I created this video below of some typical ticking and engine knock noises. Some of the ticking noises come from the top of the engine where the camshaft is located; Worn camshaft lobes are a common cause of thumping / ticking noises at the top of the engine. The deepest knocking noises come from under where the crankshaft is located. Worn crankshaft and connecting rod bearings are the common cause of lower-pitched, deep pounding noises, but they are not the only parts that can cause these types of noises. I had a vehicle in the shop that had a blown timing belt tensioner (see above), and this was a very loud and deep noise, so you never know what the noise is doing until you have it checked by a skilled mechanic.
Below the video are some images of a normal camshaft and another that is worn causing some noise.
Engine ticking or detonating
Camshaft Lobe: Normal and Damaged
You may have an internal engine oil leak
If you don’t see any visible external engine oil leak, you may have an internal oil leak. There are many possible sources of internal engine oil leaks, such as piston rings, valve guide seals, gaskets, and o-rings. If your engine is burning oil past the piston rings or valve guide seals, the usual sign is blue smoke coming out of the tailpipe, something when the engine is idling and more when the engine is revving. .
There is another type of internal engine oil leak called a cylinder head gasket leak. In some cases, the cylinder head gasket can leak engine oil into a cylinder, again causing blue smoke from the exhaust; It can also spill refrigerant into a cylinder and cause thick white smoke to come out of the exhaust. Another possibility is that the coolant and oil mix internally and cause a milky mess in the oil pan or radiator. This type of leak is very noticeable – just pull the oil dipstick or look into the overflow tank of the …