Why Is My Engine Making A Ticking Noise?

Your engine makes noise while it operates. With so many moving components working together to produce the power needed to move your car, engine noise is inevitable. That being said, you may be driving one day and hear a new sound, one you haven’t heard before. An audible tick from the engine bay can be concerning to hear. There are several potential causes for it, ranging from minor to catastrophic. Read on to learn more about the causes of engine ticking.

Low Oil or Oil Pressure

The oil keeps all the moving components in your engine lubricated, preventing catastrophic damage from friction and heat. An engine with low oil or low oil pressure can make a ticking noise due to a lack of lubrication. If you are low on oil, it may indicate either oil consumption or an oil leak, both of which should be addressed as soon as possible. If you have low oil pressure, you will likely get a warning on the dash. Low pressure can be caused by a faulty oil pump or incorrect oil viscosity and is a very serious condition that can destroy your engine if not addressed.

Valve train noise

Your engine’s valve train is located in the cylinder head. The valve train is responsible for opening and closing the intake and exhaust valves, allowing air and fuel into the cylinders, and exhaust gases out. Valve trains contain many small moving parts that can start to make noise when something isn’t right.

valve springs

Valves out of adjustment

Depending on the make and model of your vehicle, valves that are out of adjustment can cause a ticking noise. This is especially applicable on older, higher mileage vehicles. Some modern automakers like Honda still require a valve adjustment on higher mileage motors. Getting the valves correctly adjusted will not only silence the ticking, but can improve engine response, power, and smoothness.

Loud lifters

Lifters control the “lash” between the rocker arm and the top of the valve. Older motors utilize solid lifters, which needed to be manually adjusted to accommodate the expansion and contraction of metal during temperature changes. Solid lifters can get out of adjustment and tend to be much louder, particularly on startup

Most modern vehicles use hydraulic lifters, which utilize oil pressure to adjust the lash. Hydraulic lifters keep the lash at 0 regardless of the engine temperature. This results in much quieter engine operation when they are functioning correctly.

A blocked oil passage or low oil pressure can cause lifters to produce a tap or tick due to a lack of lubrication.

Exhaust Manifold or Header Leak

If the gasket between the exhaust manifold and cylinder head has gone bad, it can produce a ticking noise that will get more rapid as your engine RPMs climb. If you have an engine with a “V” layout (V6 or V8 are the most common) the ticking will usually be louder on one side unless both cylinder banks leak.

Rod Knock

Connecting rod knock is a serious condition that requires in-depth and extensive engine repair. The rods connect the pistons to the crankshaft, allowing the energy from combustion to be transferred through the engine, transmission, and to the wheels. The connection between the rods and crankshaft uses a softer metal bearing that keeps the piston movements controlled and smooth. They leave a very small clearance allowing oil to lubricate the contact point between the crank and the bearing.

Over time, the bearings wear out and, in some instances, fail. When a bearing fails, there is significant space between the rod and crankshaft. As the piston and rod travel up and down, the excess movement of the rod produces a banging noise you can hear from the driver’s seat.

connecting rods

Many conditions can produce sounds that emulate rod knock. True rod knock will almost always be accompanied by low oil pressure, be the most audible when you are decelerating, and won’t go away. Continuing to drive with rod knock can destroy the internals of your engine entirely.

Engine Fan

If something is in the way of the engine fan, it can produce a ticking noise. A noise caused by the engine fan will remain steady and won’t follow the RPMs of the engine.

Normal ticking noises

Not all ticking noises are bad. The majority of motors will have some degree of methodical ticking when they are running. The fuel injectors, purge valve, and PCV valve can all produce a ticking noise, but it will generally be quieter.

Engine ticking? Come see us!

At Becker Service Center, our technicians have the skills and experience needed to diagnose the ticking noise your car is making. Give us a call or schedule an appointment at our Naperville repair shop today!

Why Does My Car Make Noise When I Turn?

You get used to the noises your car makes every day, so when you hear a new clunk, thud, or click it can be concerning. Other than noise from the engine running and transmission shifting, the majority of the “regular” noises you hear come from the wheels and suspension, the components of your car that have direct or indirect contact with the road. The front suspension and steering system in your vehicle is complicated, with a variety of joints, bushings, and bearings working together to steer and keep your car on the road.

If you take a turn at an intersection and hear a new, distinct noise, there is a good chance you have a problem. Read on to learn about some of the more causes of noises when you turn. 

What noise is your car making when you turn?

Like we said before, a lot of sounds can come from your car regardless if there is an issue or not. If you are noticing noises specifically when you are turning, take note of the type of sound you are hearing. There are some of the more common sounds you may hear:

  • Popping
  • Clunking
  • Clicking
  • Groaning
  • Whining/screeching
  • Creaking
  • Knocking

A lot of these noises can be caused by problems in your vehicle’s suspension, but some can come from other issues like the power steering system.

Common causes 

With so many components, it can be hard to get a read on exactly what is making noise when you take a turn. There are several areas in your suspension system that can wear out and fail, and we are going to go over them here.

1.) Ball Joints

Ball joints connect the suspension to the steering knuckle. Some vehicles only have lower ball joints, while others have both upper and lower connections. You can think of this component as a ball and socket joint on the human body, like a hip or shoulder. A vehicle’s ball joint consists of a metal ball set in a socket casing, filled with a grease lubricant and capped off with rubber boots to keep dirt and other road debris out.

If the protective boot becomes damaged and debris enters the ball joint, it can quickly wear out and fail. A bad ball joint will make a clunking or squeaking noise and may cause a shaky feeling in the steering wheel.

2.) Suspension bushings

Bushings assist in absorbing impacts and bumps coming from the road, smoothing out the ride of your vehicle. The bushings in your car’s suspension system are typically made from stiff rubber or polyurethane, both of which work well for absorption. Bushings are found in many of the connection points in a vehicle’s suspension system:

  • Control arm bushings
  • Sway bar bushings
  • Struck/shock bushings
  • Leaf spring bushings

Over time, bushings wear out. Constant exposure to bumps, harsh roads, heat, cold, and road salt can accelerate the deterioration of bushing material. Worn-out bushings can make an audible creaking noise when you go around a corner or hit a bump.

3.) Tie Rods

Tie rods connect the steering rack to the steering knuckle. Without them, you would not be able to steer your car. Like every other suspension component, they are subject to harsh conditions and over time, start to wear out. Bad tie rods can produce a knocking or clunking noise when you turn at low speeds. Additionally, you may notice looseness or vibration in the steering wheel and uneven tire wear.

4.) Sway bar end links

The sway bar reduces the amount of body roll when your car takes a corner. Sway bars are a length of metal tubing that passes from one side of your vehicle to the other. They are connected to the suspension with end links. Like other suspension components on this list, the end links reduce the amount of vibration and movement felt while driving.

sway bar end link bushing

Worn-out sway bar end links can produce a knocking noise when you go around a corner. Depending on the severity of the damage, you may also notice a lot of body roll when turning over 30 MPH. if this is the case, drive slowly and carefully to a qualified mechanic.

5.) CV joints

CV joints allow power to be delivered from the transmission to the wheels. On the front wheel and all-wheel drive vehicles, the front outer CV joints allow power to get to the wheels even during a turn.

cv axle on car

The rubber boots that protect the CV joints from the debris can wear out or tear. When this happens, sand, dirt, and other debris can get into the joint and cause it to fail. When your car has a bad CV joint, you will hear a clicking or popping noise while you turn. The noise will usually be louder if you start accelerating through a turn.   

6.) Power Steering

The power steering system makes it easier to turn the wheel of your car. When components, like the pump, start to get old or the fluid gets low, you may notice a whining noise when you turn the wheel.

7.) Shocks and struts

The mounting points for the shocks/struts in your vehicle are typically buffered with rubber or polyurethane. When this material wears out, a loud, metal-on-metal clunking sound can be heard when turning or going over bumps.

strut in car

Let Becker Service Center diagnose the noise you are hearing!

As you can see, there are a wide variety of components that can make a noise when you take a turn. Many causes of suspension noise can become safety hazards if they are left unaddressed. The technicians at our Naperville repair shop will get to the bottom of the issue quickly, and recommend the repairs needed to stop the noise and keep your car handling as it should. Give us a call or schedule an appointment today!

What Causes a Blown Head Gasket?

Maybe you see some white smoke coming out of the tailpipe while you drive, or maybe your car feels a bit sluggish or under powered. You bring your car to a repair shop and the service advisor says you have a blown head gasket. Most people know the head gasket is an important component in their vehicle’s engine, but not as many understand exactly what it does and what causes it to fail. Read on to learn more about the function of the head gasket, and why it’s such a serious issue when it blows.

What does the head gasket do?

Your engine is divided into two parts. The bottom end, which contains the crankshaft, pistons, connecting rods, and oil pump. These components live in the engine block, and their movement provides power and torque to the transmission and eventually, the wheels.

bottom end four cylinder engine
The bottom end of an engine.

The cylinder head is the “top half” of the engine. The head contains the valves, camshaft(s), spark plugs, as well as the ports allowing fresh air into the engine and exhaust out of it. The valves and spark plugs work to create the combustion needed to drive your car.

aluminum cylinder head four cylinder
An aluminum cylinder head.

The head gasket is the barrier that sits between the bottom end of the motor and the cylinder head. Its job is to seal the combustion happening in each cylinder and maintain compression. Additionally, the head gasket prevents oil and coolant from mixing. It serves as a barrier between the coolant channels that run through the engine block, and the oil contained in the rotating assembly.

complete engine
A complete engine with both the bottom and the cylinder head. The head gasket seals the two together.

What causes a head gasket to fail?

In general, head gaskets are pretty robust and, in most cases, last well over 100,000 miles. That being said, some conditions can cause premature head gasket failure.


Engine overheating is one of the most common causes of a blown head gasket. When the engine gets too hot, the gasket is exposed to temperatures outside of what it is meant to handle. Extreme heat can cause failure. Overheating can also cause warping or cracking in the cylinder head or engine block, preventing the head gasket from sealing correctly.

Pre-ignition and detonation

Both pre-ignition and detonation can cause premature head gasket failure. Both of these conditions result in high heat and pressure in the cylinder, putting extreme stress on the gasket, not to mention the pistons and valves. Remember that pre-ignition occurs before the spark plug fires, and detonation occurs after.

Abrupt temperature changes

The head gasket expands and contracts to depend on the temperature of the engine. If you start your engine cold and immediately put your foot down, the shock of the abrupt temperature change can cause a head gasket failure. Allowing your car to get up to proper operating temperature before aggressive acceleration will help prevent head gasket failure.

vehicle temperature gauge

High mileage and age

Gaskets wear out. A car that has significant mileage on it without ever having a head gasket replacement may run into issues. Age can cause the materials in the gasket to break down and not seal as well as they used to. Manufacturers prescribe a head gasket replacement once a car hits a certain mileage point. If you are over that mileage, you are at higher risk of head gasket failure.

Incorrect installation

If the head gasket was replaced incorrectly, it’s unlikely to hold a seal for long if it ever does at all. If you had a head gasket replaced but run into issues quickly after the service, there may have been an issue with the install.

used head gasket
An old, used head gasket.

Signs of a blown head gasket

Depending on the severity, the symptoms of a failed head gasket can vary.

Coolant and oil leaks

Oil and coolant leaks are common issues on many vehicles. Just because you see a leak doesn’t mean you have a blown head gasket. If you see the majority of the oil or coolant seeping out from the engine block though, it could be an indication that the head gasket is no longer maintaining a seal.


A blown head gasket no longer keeps coolant passages sealed off from the cylinders. This results in coolant entering the cylinder chamber, skewing the air/fuel ratio, and causing a misfire

White exhaust smoke and water vapor

White smoke or water vapor exiting the tailpipe is another indicator of a head gasket leak. Coolant that enters the cylinder and burns will appear white on its way out of the vehicle’s exhaust. Water vapor may also be present.

Overheating (again)

While overheating can cause a blown head gasket, it can also be a symptom.

White/milky oil

If you notice your oil has a milky color, it’s a good indicator that coolant has entered areas of the engine it’s not supposed to be. The most common cause of this is a failed head gasket. If you suspect a failed or failing head gasket, take a look at your dipstick or underneath the oil cap for signs of contamination. The oil that has mixed with coolant is not as effective at lubricating the moving parts in your engine.

 Can I fix a blown head gasket myself?

Probably not. Replacing a head gasket is an extremely in-depth repair that requires the removal of the cylinder head. For the average person, the complexity of this service is time-consuming and leaves a lot of room for error. Unless you are an ex-technician or a very experienced do-it-yourselfer with the proper space and tools, your best bet is to tow your car to a garage.

Can I drive with a blown head gasket?

No, you should not drive if you believe your head gasket has failed. You could cause significant damage that could quickly turn a head gasket replacement into an engine replacement.

Head gasket replacement at Becker Service Center

The team at Becker Service Center has the skills and knowledge to replace your blown head gasket. We will ensure the repair is done right the first time, restoring the seal between the block and cylinder head, and protecting your engine. Give us a call or schedule an appointment at our Naperville repair shop today!

Why is the AC in My Car Not Blowing Cold?

You get in your car in the middle of the summer, turn it on and leave your house. The air conditioning has been on for a few minutes, but it is still not blowing cold. You roll your windows down, but by the time you get to your destination, you are covered in sweat. Dealing with this every time you drive during the summer gets old quickly. But why is your AC suddenly not blowing cold? Automotive air conditioning systems are complex and have many components that can fail. We are going to go over the most common causes of an automotive air conditioning failure.

Why is my AC not working in my car?

auto air conditioning system graphic

The air conditioning in your car is a closed system and must remain sealed to function properly. A breach in the system or failure of a component will reduce the effectiveness of the air conditioning, resulting in warm air coming through the vents. Below are the four most common causes of poorly functioning vehicle air conditioning.

   1. Leaking or low AC refrigerant

Over time the closed and pressurized AC system in your vehicle may start to leak. With less refrigerant, the system’s ability to cool the air entering the cabin decreases. In theory, without a leak, the refrigerant level in the air conditioning system would not change. If you notice warm or hot air coming through the vents in your car, recharging the AC can help it blow cold again. Many repair shops can recharge your AC system. It can be tempting to buy a recharge kit from a local auto parts store, but without the proper training or tools attempting to recharge your AC yourself can cause further damage to the system. 

   2. Bad air conditioning compressor

a/c compressor in car

The AC compressor pressurizes the refrigerant into a gas. Your air conditioning system is powered by the compressor. If the compressor fails, the refrigerant will be unable to cycle through the system, meaning the air entering the cabin will not be cold. A sudden change in air temperature coming through the vents could indicate a failed or failing AC compressor. 

3. Blocked or broken condenser

The A/C condenser allows the gas created by the compressor to change forms into a high-pressure liquid. Additionally, it helps remove heat from the refrigerant before it heads through the compressor again. The condenser is located at the front of the car, meaning it can become damaged or blocked by debris while driving. In addition to causing warm air to come through the vents, a damaged AC condenser can cause overheating, emitting a burning smell when the AC is on. 

   4. Broken air conditioning fans

air conditioning fan

The air conditioning fans assist the condenser in changing the state of the refrigerant from a gas to a liquid. If the fans are not working, the refrigerant will not be as efficient at cooling the air coming into the cabin. It is relatively easy to check the AC fans on most cars. Pop the hood when the vehicle is running and look at the front of the car, near the radiator. If the fans are not moving while the AC is on and the air coming through the vents is warm, they may be broken. 

What should I do when my car AC is blowing warm air?

The best thing to do if you notice your ac is not working like it should is to bring your car to a qualified shop. The complexity of most vehicle air conditioning systems makes it difficult for the average person to figure out what is exactly wrong. Take note of when you noticed the issue start, any odd smells or noises, and any recent accidents or other factors that could potentially impact your air conditioning. When you bring your car in, pass on this information to your service advisor. 

Get your car’s AC repaired

If you are having issues with your air conditioning, call or schedule an appointment at Becker Service Center! The team of skilled ASE-certified technicians at our Naperville repair shop will get to the bottom of your air conditioning issue quickly, keeping you cool this summer. 

5 Signs of an Exhaust Leak

As your engine runs, the exhaust gases and noise from combustion are routed through an exhaust system. The exhaust system safely routes toxic gas to the rear of the vehicle, away from the passengers and driver. It also muffles the noise of your engine operating and helps control emissions through the use of catalytic converters. The exhaust system is an essential component of your vehicle.

However, on most vehicles, the exhaust system runs underneath the car and is exposed to harsh driving conditions, road salt, and debris, and extreme temperatures. Rust, damage, and worn-out gaskets can all lead to an exhaust leak, and exhaust leaks can impact your vehicle’s performance, emissions, and even your health.

Here are 5 indicators you have an exhaust leak.

1.)   Loud Operation

If you have an exhaust leak, one of the most noticeable symptoms is noise. If the leak occurs before the muffler or on the muffler itself, you may notice more noise than you are used to. Depending on the cause of the leak, your car may get louder and louder as time goes on.

2.)   Loss of Power 

An engine runs optimally when exhaust flow is uninterrupted. An exhaust leak causes a drop in back pressure, which can lead to a decrease in power and sluggish acceleration. A loss of power can be attributed to many potential issues. If you notice a loss of power in addition to some of the other symptoms on this list, an exhaust leak may be to blame.

3.)   Poor Fuel Economy

The fueling system in your vehicle uses oxygen sensors to determine whether your car is running rich (too much fuel), lean (not enough fuel), or stoichiometric (correct balance of air and fuel). The oxygen sensors are located in the exhaust system. A leak before an oxygen sensor can make it appear as if the car is running lean. As a result, the engine computer will request more fuel to correct the lean condition, reducing fuel economy.

4.)   Exhaust Odor While Driving

If you have an exhaust leak, you may notice the smell of exhaust fumes while you drive. This can be a major safety hazard. Inhaling the noxious fumes can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning. If can smell exhaust fumes while you drive, roll down your windows and get your car to a shop as soon as possible.

5.)   Vibration

As fumes escape from leaks in the exhaust, noticeable vibrations can be felt while your car is on. The vibrations may become more severe when you step on the gas and the rate of airflow through the exhaust system increases.

Let Becker Service Center Fix Your Leaking Exhaust!

Our technicians have the skills and experience to take on any exhaust repair job, big or small. Our ASE certified techs can work on all makes and models. If you notice any exhaust leak symptoms while you drive, give us a call or schedule an appointment online today. We look forward to seeing you!