How to Correct a Pinging Sound From a Car's Engine

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In a few cases, you can effectively diagnose a car problem just by opening up your ears. A distinct "pinging" sound coming from a running engine is one of those problems that can be detected and even repaired through careful listening and prompt action. If you're hearing such a sound come out of your engine, follow these steps to figure out the source of the noise.

  • Accelerate slightly at the first instance of a pinging noise, and listen carefully to see if the noises get louder or start sounding off in faster succession.

  • Stop the car at the nearest opportunity, put it in park and turn the engine off. Listen very carefully to see if the engine runs and lingers a little longer than usual after you turn the key. If you get a positive result in this test and the one in step 1, proceed to the next step. If not, take your car to a mechanic for a diagnostic check.

  • Listen carefully to see if the pinging continues when you accelerate. Try turning the car off again as well to see if the running engine still lingers. If both conditions improve, use premium gas from that point on. If both problems remain, take your car to a mechanic for an official diagnostic.

  • Check the fuel level in your car. If you have less than a half tank of gas, drive to the nearest fueling station and fill it up with premium gasoline. If you have more than half a tank of gas, run the tank down to at least 1/8 of a tank and then fill it up with premium gasoline.

Tips & Warnings

  • Higher performance cars typically demand higher octane fuels. If you think you might have such a car, check the owner's manual or the manufacturer's Web site for more details on fuel and oil use.
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