Ford driver can't figure out what this weird sound means when car is in reverse

@tylerharris28/TikTok pixarno/Adobe Stock (Licensed)

‘No check engine light so it’s fine’: Ford Escape driver can’t figure out what this weird sound means when car is in reverse

'Ford dealer will say it’s normal'


Jack Alban


Posted on May 11, 2024

While the majority of Americans “don’t know basic car care,” it doesn’t take a Nascar Pit Crew worker to know when an engine sounds like there could be something bad going on with it.

In the case of Tyler Harris (@tylerharris28) who started his Ford Escape (with 45,000 miles) in a viral clip he posted to TikTok, both he and millions of other viewers on the web got to share in a bit of communal wincing over the noises his car was making.

Harris appears to have uploaded his video in the hopes of getting some advice on what could be wrong with his whip. According to several users on the application, the question he should’ve been asking himself is what isn’t wrong with his engine?

“Why does my car sound like that in reverse?” a text overlay in the videos reads as a driver attempts firing up their vehicle, which sounds like it’s having difficulty getting going. Finally, the engine kicks on, but there’s a lot of rattling noises that appear to be emanating from the hood, which only intensify when the car is shifted into reverse.

“Please help” is the only message in the video’s caption, simply explaining the thesis for the clip—Harris is turning to TikTok to help diagnose his car problem, rather than heading over to a mechanic or auto repair shop and being told a laundry list of fixes he may or may not need in order to ensure his car is running properly.

Why does the Ford Escape make this sound?

Several commenters who responded to his video mentioned that they heard what sounded like a “rod knock”

According to Quality Coaches, “rod knocks are typically caused by wear or damage to the bearings,” but the outlet does go on to say that they can be indicative of other issues with one’s engine: “defective main crankshaft bearings, loose or broken timing belt tensioner, worn water pump bearing, w alternator rotor bearings, broken or cracked flywheel or flex-plate, [and/or] failing air conditioning compressor.”

Motor Trend went into further details about engine noises, specifically “rod knock” and urged folks who are hearing strange sounds coming from their engine to check their gaskets and thoroughly inspect any other possible issues with the help of a trained technician. The outlet explained that while rod knock can occur through normal engine wear and tear over time, other factors could be at play, such as premature breakdown of particular components or a lack of proper lubrication between the bearing and the crank: “The connecting rod (we’ll just call it the rod from here out) is connected to the crank, and between the two there’s a bearing made from a softer material than either the rod or the crank…as the bearing wears, this gap widens and the oil will no longer form a proper barrier, and before you know it you have rod knock,” the outlet penned.

The outlet also stated that damage sustained to the bearing or crank journal can be another reason rod knock occurs, and improper oil flow into an engine can also result in the premature breakdown of engine components as well: “damage to the bearing or crank journal can also cause premature rod knock. Loss of oil pressure, dirty oil, and low oil pressure are just a few of the culprits than can ruin your day.”

Sometimes, the gnarly noises that come from an engine are rather straightforward problems that can have dire effects on a car’s drive train, such as a spun bearing, Motor Trend states. The outlet provides a picture of what this phenomenon looks like here, and explains: “One of the most common causes of rod knock is a spun bearing where the bearing literally spins in the end of the rod so that it has become out of position. Often this is caused by the rod cap bolts stretching during very hard driving or improper rod bolt torqueing during the build. It could also be a combination of factors.”

Just like 8-Minute Abs probably won’t give you a visible Tyler Durden-esque abdomen without adhering to a strict diet plan and making sure those 8 minutes are the worst 480 seconds your core has ever seen, the only fix for rod knock and very evident engine noises like the one shown in the clip is to have a complete engine rebuild—and it’s not just Motor Trend writing this. Gearheads over in a post uploaded to Reddit’s r/MechanicalAdvice wrote the same thing: “If you want to actually fix it, pull the engine, tear it down, have everything machined, and rebuild it. Anything less is just a bandaid,” one user wrote.

Another told one forlorn car owner that they may have some hope in saving their engine yet, as they suggested a rod knock fix they say has served them very well, several times without fail: “I’ve replaced rod and main bearings with the engine in the car as a ‘last ditch’ effort to save an engine. If the crank is scored up, I used fine emery cloth to clean up the surface. I had a 100% success rate, driving the cars for years before selling them. You’ll probably be successful too – those 4.0 engines are tough. Check the oil pump clearances to make sure it isn’t worn out.”

The car samaritan offered up another bit of helpful advice, writing: “The bearing caps on the engines I fixed weren’t burnt, but they were run low on oil and the bearing material was wiped off the shell causing excessive clearance and knocking. If yours fits that description, I am confident you’ll get her going!”

Of course there are several other folks online who have their own methods for addressing and fixing rod knock, like the Auto Repair Guys on YouTube, or Ratchets and Wrenches who complete an engine disassembly and tear down on camera to address rod knock.

Motor Trend also states that there are some temporary fixes (while conceding that these are, like the redditor wrote above, just a “bandaid” for engine problems). If the driver is experiencing rod knock caused by worn down bearings, then the problem could be, again, only temporarily, ameliorated by putting thicker oil into the engine which will help fill the gap between the worn down bearings or rod and the crank.

Back to Harris’ post—according to some users on the app, he had other problems to worry about in addition to rod knock: “rod knock, blown head gasket, no reverse, $7,800 i know what i got no lowballers”

“Rod knock and a bad transmission. That’s why I love a turbo charged 3 cylinder and 8 speed auto!!” another said, giving their opinion on what is wrong with the vehicle.

“I think reverse is the least of your worries,” another quipped, while someone else said: “I’m honestly just impressed it started”

“The ford escaped bro,” another joked.

“Sounds like normal ford noises to me. No worries,” one TikToker said.

What’s most shocking, one user pointed out, is that the vehicle only has 45,000 miles on it.


Please help

♬ original sound – Tyler Harris

In a follow-up video, Harris said that his whip only needed a new exhaust and a battery and that it “runs great” however, there are still some rattling sounds emanating from the engine, as several people in the comments section pointed out.

The Daily Dot has reached out to Harris via TikTok comment and Ford via email for further information.

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*First Published: May 11, 2024, 5:04 pm CDT