CarTalk.com Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Exhaust Sputter Sound - is this normal?

buying a used car. the exhaust had a slight sputtering sound at the tailpipe.



is this normal? it wasn’t too loud…was like you are trying to say a “p” word.

Was it rythmic, in tune with engine speed? Sounds like it might have a miss on one cylinder. That’s not normal. It could be anything from a bad spark plug, plug wire, or coil pack to a bad valve. (That’s in ascending order of expense.) I had one on a Buick 3.8L V-6 yesterday that had a bad plug wire that I think caused one of the three coils to to go bad. Get the car checked out by a pro before you buy it.

Also, the ‘Check Engine’ light should light up for a second or two when it first fires up, then goes off. If it never lights up on start up, walk away. Chances are they pulled the bulb.