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Popping Sound When Starting Car – What Could Be Wrong?

As a car owner, you may have noticed a popping sound when starting your car and wondered what's causing the problem. Fortunately, we have consulted experts about this issue, and here is what they have to say.

A popping sound when starting a car could be a result of different problems. Here are some:

  • Dirty air filter.
  • Propeller shaft.
  • Bad spark plugs.
  • Bad struts
  • Bearing issue. 
  • Bad CV joints.
  • Faulty drive belt.
  • Faulty brake drum.
  • Bad shocks.

It is advisable to tackle these problems as soon as possible so they that don't escalate. Keep reading to get detailed information about what could be causing a popping sound in your car and how to fix the issue.

Man starting a car engine with an ignition key, Popping Sound When Starting Car - What Could Be Wrong?

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What Could Be Wrong If My Car Makes Popping Sound When Starting?

When a car makes a popping sound when starting, chances are that some of its components are faulty. The following problems may cause a vehicle to make such a sound:

Dirty Air Filter

Removing a dirty automotive air filter

This is one of the major reasons why a car makes a popping sound. When your air filter is dirty, the dirt blocks the airflow into your car's engine, thereby placing unnecessary stress on the engine, and this can lead to a loud popping noise. 

Faulty Propeller Shaft

When the propeller is stressed, maybe as a result of driving around corners, downhill, and in stop-and-go traffic, your car may start making popping sounds. 

Bad Spark Plugs

Corroded Spark Plugs

If the spark plugs are going bad and you fail to replace them, they can make your engine to stop functioning properly and this would eventually result in a popping sound.

Bad Struts

If your struts are bad, this will put too much stress on your car. As you hit bumps or come across sharp angles, the struts compress, resulting in a popping sound. To avoid problems with your struts, ensure that they don't get damaged and replace them when the need arises.

Bearing Issue

Vehicle car gear rotary clutch close-up inside engine

Cars come with two bearings. One is on the axle, which is known as wheel bearing, while the other is on the drive shaft. If any of these bearings becomes loose, there would be too much pressure on the hose clamps. This may lead to a popping sound.

Bad CV Joint

This is the most common cause of a popping noise, coming from the wheel. The constant velocity (CV) joints work as the steering system of a car.

When the CV joints go bad, the axle losses its flexibility, and the grease goes to the back of the wheels, making the joint produce a popping sound.

Faulty Drive Belt

If the drive belt of your car is bad, your engine will be greatly affected. This may lead to vibrations and popping sounds. You can ask a professional to check your car if this happens.

Faulty Brake Drum

This is a well-known problem in older cars that could make you lose control at some point. If the brake drum gets loose, there would be too much stress on the hose clamp, which will eventually cause the car to make a popping sound. 

Bad Shocks

If the shocks of your vehicle go bad, your car may start bouncing. The problem could even lead to a popping noise, as well as other problems with your brake system. 

Ford Transit Connect on a street. This model is one of the most popular commercial vehicles in Europe.

What Should I Do To Fix The Popping Sound?

You need to troubleshoot to learn the cause of the problem or call a professional for help. If the problem lies with the CV joint, then the CV joint closest to the wheel will need to be serviced.

This requires replacing the entire drive that comes with new CV joints on the two ends. The CV joint boot inspection on the two sides may show the defective joint, because CV boots are designed to hold the joint's grease and keep contaminants from entering the joint. 

You should thoroughly inspect the CV boot when changing your oil. It should be replaced if you notice a crack or other type of damage. If you notice the problem on time, just the boot may need replacement, and that will save you money rather than replacing the whole axle.

How Urgently Do I Need To Fix Popping Sound?

A car making a popping sound when starting is a serious problem that needs to be fixed. Driving a car with faulty CV joints or struts can cause more problems that may be very expensive to fix.

Also, it's unsafe to drive a car with such a problem. This is why it is advisable to inspect your car immediately when you notice that it's making strange noises.

Close up detail of new car gasoline engine

Can An Alternator Make A Popping Noise?

An alternator can make a popping sound. This is because the alternator is in charge of generating power to all the electrical parts of your car. A bad alternator can make a weird noise that might sound like popping.

You can hear a sound like an electrical fault linked to your alternator, leading to the popping sound. Generally, the battery is charged by the alternator while the engine functions when amperage is generated, and the battery recharges as the engine turns the pulley.

The voltage regulator helps in regulating how the alternator charges the battery, maintaining a specific amperage as the engine functions. If the alternator gets faulty, the battery may lose charge easily.

This means the car's power will be lost. You may also notice that the car is making a whining sound when the bearing inside the alternator starts failing.

Why Is My Differential Popping?

The differential is popping because it carries the energy from the engine and distributes it between your wheels. As a result of this, a popping noise may arise. To fix this problem, you may have to replace your differential.

Do Ball Joints Make A Popping Noise?

Ball joints can make a popping noise. The main sign of a bad ball joint is a popping sound but the amount of the noise varies from joint to joint. Ball joints do not make noise, except when there is a slight tap when turning the wheel. 

One of the most common signs of a bad ball joint is a popping noise when the suspension is going up and down. A bad ball joint can also start rattling inside the socket when you're driving on an uneven road.

In this situation, the ball joint tends to make a popping sound when an excessive clearance grows between the socket and the ball. 

How Do I Stop My Ball Joints From Popping?

ball bearing and a portion of the brake disc car suspension

Ball joints do not make a popping sound unless they are really in need of grease. Faulty ball joints can lead to alignment problems, which can make your vehicle tires wear unevenly. It can even lead to accidents. 

Ball joints make noise when they are dry. What you can do to stop the popping noise is to replace them. You can try greasing them but most of the new models don't have grease fittings. 

At times, greasing won't solve the problem. It is better to get the ball joints replaced, because these joints may still wear out when greased.

If the problem persists after getting a replacement, you can lift up the front of the vehicle by jacking up beneath the lower control arm. This will ease all spring tension, making it easier for you to move the wheel.

Can Bangs And Pops Damage The Engine?

Yes, bangs and pops can damage your engine. They can cause crackling which may result in flames in the exhaust pipe when the gears are shifted. 

Some pops and bangs make the spark plugs fire when the fuel starts leaving the cylinder via the exhaust ports by greatly delaying the timing of the ignition. This can cause the exhaust valves to burn. As a result, they may stop sealing well or even get damaged.

To Wrap Up

Different problems can cause a car to make a popping sound when starting, including a dirty air filter, bad spark plugs, and bad CV joints. The first thing to do is troubleshoot the issue and get it fixed. You can tackle the problem by yourself or consult a professional for help.

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