Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

My 99 VW Jetta sounds like a motor boat!

Hello Car Talk community,

Today I just started my car up after two days of not driving it and also during a period of heavy rains (no flooding though). When it turned over, the car sounded much much louder than normal. I wasn’t sure if something was up, so I started it again to get the same loud noise. It seemed to run fine so I decided to drive it around a bit.

In low gears, it sounds really loud like a motor boat, but when I get up to 5th, it sounds somewhat normal. When I downshift and sometimes when going down hills, I can hear a sputtering sound, almost like there’s water in some pipe and the air going over it is making the noise. I was wondering, is this a simple problem that will go away or will I have to put in more maintenance for my car.

Here’s a little background info. The car has 104,000 miles, a newer engine (only 75,000 miles on that) and it just had the radiator replaced in it. Thanks in advance for any recommendations.

The first thing that I would check is the exhaust manifold. The symptoms that you describe are consistent with a cracked manifold, and this can be especially obvious during periods of heavy rain. I had a Volvo that did exactly the same thing, and it was the exhaust manifold that produced the noise.