Why Is My Engine So Loud?

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If you’ve noticed that your engine sounds much louder than normal, don’t just turn up the music and hope it goes away! There are a number of possible causes, including low engine oil, a busted muffler, or dirty spark plugs. 
Once you diagnose the problem, you’ll need to have it fixed as soon as possible, in order to avoid costly repairs down the road. You may have to take your car to a mechanic or even get it towed, depending on the reason for the loud engine noise.
Since loud engines tend to come on without much warning, it’s important to be prepared for all kinds of roadside emergencies. If you’re looking for towing coverage, lockout service, tire change, jump starts, key replacement, and more, try a roadside assistance membership through the car insurance comparison app Jerry
Below, Jerry has put together a list of reasons why that engine purr might have turned into a growl and what you can do to fix the problem.

Failed or damaged muffler

A busted muffler is a common cause for a lot of sudden noise. Maybe you drove over a rough patch of road, or your muffler just wore out over time. 
No matter how it happened, a hole in your muffler will cause you to lose gas mileage, put out more fumes, and blare noise from your car. 
While a broken muffler is one of the more minor problems your car could have, you still need to address it as soon as possible. 
You shouldn’t need a tow as long as you catch this issue early, but if you’ve noticed that the muffler’s been noisy for some time, don’t risk driving the car further. 

Bad catalytic converter

The catalytic converter is a key part of your car’s exhaust system—if it is failing, the engine will be louder than usual and run rough. 
Another unpleasant symptom of a bad catalytic converter? The smell of rotten eggs will come from the exhaust. 
Usually, a failing catalytic converter will also prompt the Check Engine Light to turn on, so you should know that something is wrong pretty quickly. As the converter fails, it will become totally blocked, and eventually, the car will not run at all. 
You’ll need a tow if the catalytic converter fails. Otherwise, you could risk exhaust fumes entering the cabin while you drive. 

Low oil level

If your car’s oil level is low, you may begin to hear a grinding sound in your engine before too long, especially if your car’s oil level sensor is failing or faulty. 
If the sensor doesn’t work, you can manually check the oil level at regular intervals to make sure it doesn’t get too low.
If you’re stopped at a gas station already, you should be safe to add oil to the car and then take it to be serviced by a professional, just in case the low oil level is due to a leak. 
Key Takeaway: Double-check your car’s oil level if you start to hear a grinding sound. 

Broken tailpipe

Similar to mufflers, a broken tailpipe is a common culprit when it comes to noisy engines. Over time, a tailpipe can become rusted and develop holes, increasing the noisiness of your car. 
If left alone, the tailpipe can even get so rusted that it falls off completely! 
As soon as you notice noise from the tailpipe, drive your car to the shop to avoid more damage or potential exhaust fumes leaking into the car. 

Worn-out bearings

Have you ever heard a washing machine with uneven feet run a spin cycle? That sound is similar to what you might hear under the hood if your bearings are bad. 
With time, bearings can become worn out, and your engine will have a consistent knocking sound
Should this be your problem, stop the car and have it towed to the shop for repairs as soon as possible. The bearings are what hold the moving parts of the engine in their proper place, so driving with bad bearings increases the risk of engine damage. 

Exhaust manifold leak

Your car’s exhaust manifold is what collects the exhaust fumes as the engine runs. When it leaks, the engine will run unevenly, sputter, and sound much louder than usual. 
You’ll want to have this fixed quickly, as the fumes from an exhaust manifold leak could make their way into the car’s cabin
Don’t drive with this issue—have your car safely towed to keep you from harmful fumes. 

Worn-out seals and gaskets

Your exhaust system’s many seals and gaskets will eventually wear out and fail, causing increased noise from the engine. 
Replacing these seals and gaskets is a normal part of your car’s maintenance schedule. If you don’t have these replaced routinely, you could end up damaging the exhaust manifold
If you feel your gaskets or seals are in bad shape, have your car towed to the nearest shop as soon as possible. 
Key Takeaway: If you want to keep from paying a lot more for repairs down the line, make sure your car’s seals and gaskets are regularly maintained. 

Bad or dirty spark plugs

When you have bad spark plugs, your engine will misfire, and the noise level will increase. It’s common for bad or dirty spark plugs to make a sputtering sound—with regular maintenance and tune-ups, however, this shouldn’t be too much of an issue. 
If you’re experiencing a rough engine due to bad spark plugs, you can safely drive your car into the shop to have them repaired or replaced. 

Oxygen sensor malfunction

If your engine sounds loud and rough, you could be dealing with a dirty or failing oxygen sensor. This sensor helps your car measure how rich the exhaust fumes are when they make their way through the exhaust system. 
When it’s not working as it should, your engine will get the wrong levels of fuel and the engine noise will rise because of it. 
You may need to clean, or even replace, your oxygen sensor to get your engine sounding like it should, or drive your car to the shop if you wish to have it serviced professionally. 

Dirty mass airflow sensor

This sensor helps to measure the amount of air entering the engine, and like the oxygen sensor, can cause your car to send the wrong amount of fuel into the engine when it’s dirty or failing. 
The result of this will be loud and rough engine noise, so you’ll need to keep this sensor clean and in good shape. 
Typically, you should be fine driving your car into the shop to have this sensor maintained. 

Worn or failed torque converter

An issue that only affects cars with an automatic transmission, a worn-out or failing torque converter makes a noticeable grinding noise when you have the car in gear. This may happen due to low transmission fluid or from wear and tear over time. 
No matter the cause, you’ll want to have your car towed to a repair shop as soon as you can in order to prevent further damage to the transmission.

Save money with cheap car insurance

After you’ve solved the mystery of your car’s loud engine noise, make sure you have the right insurance to keep your car protected. If you want cheap car insurance quotes fast, go to Jerry. A licensed broker that offers end-to-end support, the Jerry app gathers affordable quotes, helps you switch plans, and will even help you cancel your old policy.
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FAQ’s

No—in many cases, a loud engine can be caused by an issue with your exhaust system. If this is the case, you could risk exhaust fumes entering your cabin while you drive.  Depending on the cause of the loud engine, you may need to get your car towed to a repair shop.
If your car sounds especially loud when sitting idle, it could be that your air/fuel mixture is off. This could be due to a dirty or failing oxygen sensor or mass airflow sensor. If left alone, this may eventually damage your engine.

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