Here’s the latest Reader Q – and my answer!
I have a 2011 Chevy Tracker. The “check engine” light is on when started up and there is a ticking sound. It’s been sitting for over 3 weeks. What is the noise? What do I need to check?
The “check engine” light comes on when the On Board Diagnostics (OBD) system detects a fault, usually with the emissions control system. It will stay on – usually – until a code reader is hooked up to the vehicle and the code(s) are read and then cleared. Ideally, after the reason for the issue has been fixed!
The light concerns me less than the ticking noise at start up. That is cause for immediately turning off the engine – and checking the oil level on the dipstick. If it is low, add to the “full” mark and restart the engine. If the ticking goes away, you found – and fixed – your problem, which was low oil level.
If the engine still ticks, you should – for the sake of your wallet – shut it off and leave it off until it can be determined why it is making the noise. The ticking is indicative of an oiling problem. You do not want to run the engine with low oil pressure – possibly the result of a failing oil pump or a clogged oil pump pick-up, etc.
It is worth a tow. $75 – vs. a couple thousand, if your engine locks up due to oil starvation.
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