You enjoy listening to the purr of the engine as you cruise along the highway. When you hear some strange sound coming from under your hood, you may panic. A knocking sound can be worrisome, and here is what it might mean and what you should do.
Knocking in your engine, also described as pinging, can mean one of several problems. Some may be easily fixed while others may indicate major damage. The knocking sound often occurs when the fuel and air mixture is incorrect, which causes the fuel to burn in uneven pockets rather than uniform bursts. Left untreated, it can cause damage to the piston and cylinder wall.
Low octane rating
If you put in fuel with an octane rating too low for your vehicle, it can create a knock. To prevent this, use gasoline with an octane rating at or above what the manufacturer recommends. An octane booster, which can be bought at an auto parts store, can help restore the correct octane rating and stop the knocking.
Fuels for vehicles are required to have a carbon cleaning detergent, but they may not prevent carbon deposits from forming. This reduces the amount of volume inside the cylinder and increases the amount of compression. Using a fuel additive can usually cure this problem.
Incorrect spark plugs
If any spark plugs other than those recommended by the manufacturer are used, they can cause the knocking sound you hear. The spark plug has a certain heat range, which means it withdraws heat from the combustion chamber. Using the wrong part can prevent it from working correctly.
If the sound is a deep knock that is loud, it indicates that your rod bearings are worn out. Pretty soon, the bearings will fail, which means your car will likely leave you stranded. If you hear such a noise, take it to a mechanic to be diagnosed.
This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as What Does It Mean When an Engine "Knocks"? and was authored by Joyce Morse.