Dodge Journey making fluttering noise on acceleration

2015 Dodge Journey with 132k. In the last week or so, I’ve noticed a fluttering sound when I press the accelerator. This is only at low speeds, around 20-40 mph, and never on the highway. I’m not sure how to describe it. It honestly sounds like a frog call or kind of like a dove cooing. I’ve been working from home for the last six weeks, so it’s only been driven a few times a week in that time.

Exhaust heat shield? Especially if it happens within a certain RPM range.


Would the heat shield make a sound from the back? It sounds like it’s coming from under the hood.

Unitized bodies can “telegraph” noises, so they can sound like they are coming from a slightly different area than where they are actually originating.

Okay, now I’m confused.
Does the noise seem to be coming from the back of the vehicle, or from under the hood?

In any event, the first thing that I would do is to check for something (perhaps a plastic bag??) that is hanging from underneath the car.

Sorry that was unclear. The noise is coming from under the hood/behind the instrument panel, hard to tell.

It is possible that something (a leaf, or… ?) is rubbing against the HVAC fan blades.

Just crawled under it and looked under the hood. No plastic bags, etc. When I give even a light press on the connector between the exhaust manifold and the muffler, it vibrates a lot and keeps vibrating for about 30 seconds. Is that normal? Come to think of it, that whole thing had to be replaced in 2015 after I was rear ended.

I would say you are hot on the trail of finding a loose heat shield. If you want to try a quick test, start the engine and put the vehicle in Drive…holding foot firmly on the brakes…apply the gas slowly until a certain rpm/vibration frequency is reached and the sound presents itself. Rinse and repeat. This will usually suss out a loose heat shield.

If you were able to produce the sound with some regularity using the test above, you can then lay on the ground with a length of wood and tap along the exhaust system to try and find the offending piece… Doing a “power brake” maneuver is most often the quickest and easiest way to find a loose heat shield.

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The sound could also be a slight leak from a junction in the exhaust, anywhere from the manifold-engine connection on down.