Ping­ing sug­gests bad knock sen­sor

See if high-oc­tane fuel elim­i­nates it

Albuquerque Journal - - AUTOS - Ray Magliozzi Got a ques­tion about cars for Ray Magliozzi? Email the Car Talk web­site at

DEAR CAR TALK: I have a 2015 Kia Sportage with 25,000 miles on it that I pur­chased new. At about 15,000 miles, I no­ticed a slight ping when slowly climb­ing hills. I tried chang­ing gas, to no avail. Then I no­ticed that when I parked the car on a slight hill, fac­ing ei­ther up or down, I got a loud noise for about a se­cond or two when I started the car. It sounds like the bear­ings are starv­ing for oil. I made a record­ing of this and took it to the dealer. They said it’s a nor­mal sound for newer ve­hi­cles. Ping­ing and bear­ing noise is the new nor­mal? What’s the next stage of nor­mal — oil leaks and blue smoke? What do you think? — Den­nis

That’s the old nor­mal, Den­nis. Cars shouldn’t ping at all these days. They all have knock sen­sors that au­to­mat­i­cally ad­just the tim­ing if you hap­pen to get gaso­line that has too low of an oc­tane rat­ing. So it’s pos­si­ble you have a bad knock sen­sor. But that would trigger a check en­gine light, and you didn’t men­tion that.

It also may be some­thing other than ping­ing that you’re hear­ing. Try putting a tank of the high­est-oc­tane fuel you can find in the car. If you still hear the noise at the same in­ten­sity, then it’s not ping­ing, it’s some­thing else.

At that point, your dealer will need to hear it to fig­ure it out. It could be a loose heat shield, or a loose or bro­ken ex­haust man­i­fold bolt. Or al­most any­thing.

As for the start­ing noises, car en­gines, es­pe­cially smaller ones, do make more noise when they first start up these days, usu­ally as the hy­draulic lifters get pres­sur­ized. If it goes away in less than 15 sec­onds — which you say it does — I wouldn’t worry too much about it, as long as your oil level is cor­rect.

But in any case, it’s good that you re­ported it to the dealer, and that it’s noted on your re­pair or­der. If it does get worse over time, and some­thing re­ally is wrong, you’ll have a record that you com­plained about it while the car was un­der war­ranty.

Also, ask to drive a used, 2015 Sportage at the dealer. See if it makes the same noises. The dealer is telling you that, es­sen­tially, “they all do that.” So drive an­other 2015 and see for yourself.


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