How NOT To Save Money

It doesn’t take an accountant to recognize that it costs more money to operate a vehicle than it did a few years ago. This may cause some motorists to try saving a few dollars by using cheap gas delaying needed maintenance. “That’s a classic case of false economy,” says Rich White, of the Car Care Council, “and it’s no surprise that these ‘money-saving’ measures can cost big money in the long run.”

Substandard fuel is one cause of the knocking or pinging sound, commonly known as a spark knock, usually heard when accelerating or climbing a hill. Whether or not you’ve heard the noise, read on. Like the tree that falls in the forest, the sound could be there, but never reaches your ears.

Technically known as “detonation”, this noise results from improper combustion due to an engine malfunction and/or the aforementioned incorrect fuel. If you hear a sort of rattling sound from under the hood when you step on the gas, you should look into it, especially if persists. It could damage the engine.

Incorporated in most engines is a “knock sensor”, an emissions control component designed to help correct the condition, adjusting the engine timing or otherwise compensating to reduce or eliminate pinging.

“But only so much compensation can be tolerated before engine performance suffers,” emphasizes White. “Both fuel economy and power suffers, often before the owner realizes what’s happening. The condition usually is readily fixable. If fuel quality is the problem, the noise will disappear after running through a tank of the right gas. Otherwise, an engine diagnosis may be in order.

“Certain automotive symptoms can be the harbingers of serious trouble on the horizon. An engine noise, especially a spark knock is one of them, good reason to be car care aware.”

The Car Care Council is the source of information for the "Be Car Care Aware" campaign, educating consumers about the benefits of regular vehicle maintenance and repair. For more information visit