Man talking(L+r), Chevrolet dealership(c)

Jonathan Weiss/Shutterstock @davesautocenter/Tiktok (Licensed)

‘Don’t allow your shop to do that’: Mechanic makes key diagnosis just from pulling out the filter on a Chevrolet Cruze

‘You’re way overshooting.’


Chad Swiatecki


We’re no experts, but based on watching a statistically significant number of car repair videos online it certainly seems like more than half of the time and labor involved in fix-up jobs comes from removing and disassembling related parts. That’s understandable, given the compact space and the frankly amazing complexity of physics and mechanics involved in automobiles.

All that said, it’s enlightening and revealing to hear the thoughts of someone like Dave Bell, an online creator who posts on TikTok as @davesautocenter. In a recent clip that has received more than 600,000 views, he takes us in close to look at a Chevrolet Cruze that’s experiencing a loud knock when the engine gets much above its idling speed.

The detective work of diagnosing the cause of that knock leads Bell, owner of Dave’s Auto Center in Centerville, Utah, to suspect a few different possibilities.

“Sounds to me like a rod knock. Could be a timing chain or something like that but I want to see if I’ve got metal (debris) in the motor,” he said. Metal debris being the most serious issue, it’s also the easiest to detect since the shavings and flakes will wind up in the motor oil running through the system.

In most cases, Bell said repair centers’ next step is to remove the oil pan to look for the suspected pieces of metal in the oil reservoir. That will work, but Bell advised there’s an easier and faster way to pinpoint if the motor debris is the problem.

How to tell if you have debris in your engine

By removing the oil filter, which is readily accessible and can be taken out in less than a minute, Bell quickly detects the bearing fragments he said are the culprit behind the loud knock.

“That’s it. You know, it depends on the car and the oil filter, but you don’t have to pull an oil pan off. Customers, first off, don’t allow your shop to do that to look for a noise. And shops, don’t do that. You’re way overshooting and missing the mark.”

The good news is Bell’s advice will result in a potentially faster diagnosis. If there’s metal pieces present in the oil then there’s no need to look any further to know the problem is with the bearing. If there’s no metal present, then the repair technicians need to move on to examine the rod, which may be on the verge of failure.

So what’s up with this Chevy Cruze?

The bad news: One of these root causes point to easy fixes. In fact they pretty much guarantee the engine in question will need a lengthy and expensive repair, or possibly a complete replacement.

The comments on Bell’s post expressed how dire the situation can be for these vehicles.

“The best tool I’ve used to fix this issue with these motors is usually the largest trash can I can find,” one observer shared.

There was also some debate about Bell’s including the timing belt as another possible cause of the knock: “lol timing chains will put that in the oil filter too please argue me on this I’ve done many of these,” one would-be mechanic wrote.

@davesautocenter Engine noise? Do not remove oil pan to diagnose #enginebuild #autoshop #autorepair #carrepair ♬ original sound – Davesautocenter

In response, other commenters said “Doing a chain job after seeing that in the filter & assuming that’s all it’s going to need and then hoping none of that material has gotten into the bearings seems like a high stakes gamble to me.”

The Daily Dot reached out to Bell via phone for further comment.

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