I really appreciate anyones time. I own a 2003 Pontiac Sunfire 5-speed manual with the 2.2L l850 Gm engine with about 320,XXX kilometres for reference.
Anyways, so I went drifting last night and did some donuts in a parking lot and revved my engine pretty high to enjoy the long weekend and after finishing my fun, I drove off. After about 3 seconds, I noticed a clicking/ knocking noise coming from my engine. I was still able to make it home and take it to work and back next day, so I checked my oil level and it was about 2 quarts short. So I filled it back up, but the noise was still there. It doesnt click when im idling or when I rev it up really high when im driving in gear or when i rev it in neutral. I did recently just change my spark plugs about 3 weeks ago although im sure they are the right kind as it was running fine afterwards. I'm at a loss, and I really really cant afford a mechanic or a new car as Im broke (hence why i own a sunflower) but I have decent mechanical knowledge and would like to be able to repair this myself or at least know if anyone has an idea as to what is going wrong and how long it will run for.

  • 2
    don't drift with a car you rely on for work...
    – Solar Mike
    Aug 7, 2017 at 7:03
  • Exactly when does it make the sound? You said "it doesn't click" when: idle, high rpm in gear or high rpm in neutral... so when is it knocking? Aug 7, 2017 at 16:23
  • It starts clicking/knocking when i add anywhere between 10-65% throttle and between 2-5,000 rpm. But it only makes that noise whenever the transmissions engaged. When its in neutral you can rev the hell out of it and it sound just normal. Same when its idling, it sounds pretty normal
    – Jaden
    Aug 7, 2017 at 20:03
  • @Jaden Ok. So it only does it when it's under load. Now can you "feel" the sound at all? If it's a knock, you may be able to feel it, where as a tick would (generally) be more just audible. This will tell if the mass of whatever is causing the sound is large (like a piston or rod) or small (like cams or rockers). Keep in mind, this may not be a noticeable thing at all, but it's something easily testable. Aug 7, 2017 at 20:50
  • No, you can't "feel" the noise. If it is the cams or rockers, is it even possible to fix it? Or if it will even last for a few months?
    – Jaden
    Aug 7, 2017 at 21:05

3 Answers 3


Could be Rod Knock or Lifter Tick.

If it sounds like this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LAl82d2TVtY

it is Rod Knock and that means your engine is blown and only has a little time left. Wouldn't surprise me with that many miles.

  • Thankfully it doesnt sound like that when it is idling. If there was any noise idling, its so faint that I havent been able to notice a difference
    – Jaden
    Aug 7, 2017 at 20:04

Second Opinion

Could be a rod knock. The severity of the damage will change the sound and symptoms. This is coming from a grind that got 20+ years and has plenty of certs.

Do this:


  1. Open the hood while the car is running,
  2. From under the hood, actuate the throttle by rotating it
  3. Listen very carefully for the sound
  4. Try to isolate which part of the motor it's coming from.

The fact that it only happens when the motor is under load is interesting. The entire motor will move and rock when it's fed power, and it does this more so when it's under load (whole equal and opposite reactions thing).

That being said, your main points to look from there are the cams and valve train, and the belts and pulleys.

Next big question, does the rhythm of the click match RPMs? Meaning as you increase/decrease RPMs (in the 2-5k range) does the speed of the click also increase/decrease?

It is possible that there's just something that's coming into contact with something it shouldn't, and that it happens in that RPM range because of motor roll during accept under load. I'm not saying it's the case, but it's certainly possible if it rhythm is independent from RPM that something could be touching the radiator fan or some such thing. This is another thing you can check without cost by looking at everything in the engine compartment and making sure nothing is loose or moving around too much.

Now, on the flip side, if the sound does match RPM, then it's most likely part of the motor causing it. With the information I have, I'd start by inspecting the valve cover area as best as possible at idle, then belts and pulleys. For the belts and pulleys you'll most likely have to remove the belt, unless it's really messed up. If a pulley is really bad off, you see motion or unusual looseness with the belt installed.

I'll update my answer as new info is added.

The take away, as Solar Mike said,

Don't drift with a car you rely on for work.

This is very important to remember. Doing drifting and other such fun stuff is really hard on many different parts of the car, and aside from (in this case) causing a slight tick, you may also cause all sorts of stress to steering components, suspension, transmission and on and on.

If you want to have fun doing this every now and again, buy a cheapo junker and beat on that. It's WAY more fun when you don't have to worry about what happens to it - trust me - I've done it plenty!

Anyway, regardless of all that, have fun when you're having fun, but remember to be responsible with the things you need. This is getting a bit off-topic so I'm gonna stop myself--

  • Is it possible that it could be the transmission at all? I know that the tranny before was already in pretty bad shape as it was
    – Jaden
    Aug 7, 2017 at 22:00
  • @Jaden Totally possible! But that's a whole other can of worms. And I have limited transmission knowledge. Aug 7, 2017 at 22:20

Remove your serpentine belt and check the idler pulley for side to side movement. Before serpentine belts regular fan belts would click if they had a chunk out of them. A bad bearing on the idler pulley will me noise.

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