Why Is My Car Rattling From The Engine?

Noises when driving along are always unnerving, no matter what they are or where they come from, but a rattle from the engine? That’s positively terrifying. But what could that rattle mean, and just how much do you need to be worrying about it? Scrap Car Comparison guides you through some of the most likely culprits, and whether they’re nothing to be concerned about, or time to start panicking.

But first, if your car has rattled its way into oblivion, or perhaps this is the latest in a long, tiring saga that you just want to see the end of, why not use our industry-leading service to get yourself the very best price in the shortest time possible. All you need to do is provide us with your postcode and registration number, and we’ll do the rest, scouring your local area for an unbeatable quote – and as if that doesn’t sound tempting enough, what if we told you we’d come and collect the tired old vehicle from you absolutely free of charge? Well, thanks to a nationwide network of collection agents, that’s exactly what we’ll do. Get started today and find out just how much your old car could be worth.

What causes a car rattling?

Rattles can come from all areas of the car, so it’s important to pinpoint exactly where the sound is coming from before you start trying to diagnose any potential issues. If the noise is coming from inside the cabin, it could be something as simple as a piece of trim that’s come loose – or perhaps something rattling around inside your glovebox, door pocket or cup holder while the engine is running and causing vibrations. Obviously if this is the cause of the rattling, then there’s no cause for concern – just remove the offending item, or secure it in some way, et voila, the noise has gone.

Now, if the sound comes from outside the car, particularly the underside of your car, it could be a little more concerning. Chances are a rattle could be coming from your exhaust, which could have been caused by anything from rust to a failing catalytic converter, both of which we’ve gone into detail previously on this blog.

Today, however, we’re talking about rattles coming from under the bonnet. Unfortunately, if this is where you’ve managed to narrow down the source of the noise to, then brace yourself for a fairly painful trip to the garage. One of the more common causes will be a failing hydraulic valve lifter. While modern cars have complicated systems they’re usually pretty solid in terms of their reliability, but are more prone to collapsing in older vehicles, which can create a rattle or ticking noise as they start to fail. 

If the noise is more of a ‘clack-clack’, then this is where you really need to be prepared for a hefty repair bill. If the noise appears when you start the engine up, this could be a sign of piston slap, which is where the pistons no longer move correctly within the cylinders as a result of wear and tear. 

How can a rattling engine be fixed?

If you’ve got either of the problems above, whether it’s a collapsing hydraulic valve lifter, or piston slap, unless you have experience with the inner workings of an internal combustion engine, you’re going to want to take it to a garage sooner rather than later. The biggest problem for both of these issues, is it is highly unlikely that it’s an isolated failure. If one lifter has gone, it’s best to replace all lifters just to be safe, whereas if you’re suffering from a case of piston slap, then it’s going to be a full engine rebuild.

That may sound a little dramatic, but again, there’s a very strong chance that more than one piston is affected, and if you need to work on multiple pistons, you’re looking at a full engine rebuild – and they’re not cheap. In some instances, you may find that the cost to repair far outweighs the value of the car itself.

Is it safe to drive when a car is rattling?

Whether a car is safe to drive or not will, of course, depend on the specific issue that you are facing, but the general rule of thumb is that if you’re in doubt, get it to a garage or professional as soon as possible. Usually, driving cars making odd noises, especially from the engine area, is asking for trouble as you’re just going to be putting those stressed components under even more stress, meaning the chance of catastrophic engine failure is right around the corner.

If your car has been making odd noises and fixing it is simply out of the question, then Scrap Car Comparison is here to make the situation much easier for you. With just a post code and registration number, we’ll get you the very best price for your car, and within a matter of days it’ll be collected from a location convenient to you, and disposed of in line with all of the legal specifications. Just simply pick up the phone today, or use our handy online quote generator, and find out just how much your car could be worth.

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