Reader Qs

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Well, a reader Q.

Christine asks: 

The other day my car started making a noise like an aerosol can being sprayed.  It lasted for a couple of minutes and than stopped.  The car seemed to be running okay.

My Answer:
That brief rattling sound was likely what’s called “engine ping” or engine knock – pre-ignition or detonation, in more technical lingo. Basically, the explosion in a cylinder(s) happened prematurely, before it should. This usually happens because of lower octane fuel igniting before it’s supposed to. In a modern car, there are knock sensors that detect this and the computer adjusts the engine (timing) to compensate. If it only happened briefly and went away, I would not worry. Be sure you are using the correct octane rating fuel for your vehicle; it should tell you on the gas cap/door or in the owner’s manual.
Another possibility is that the engine “lugged” briefly. This happens most often in a car with a manual transmission, when you are in too high a gear for the vehicle speed; downshifting to a lower gear is the fix in that case.

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