Why Do Hyundai’s Rattle When Accelerating?

Hyundai’s. While they used to be the disposable joke of the automotive industry, we don’t think that we could name a faster growing car company of the last 30 years (besides maybe Tesla).

But, if Hyundai’s are so great, why do so many 15 year old Hyundai’s rattle, knock and ping every time you try to overtake a stray fly on the road?

9/10 times, these old Hyundai’s aren’t actually broken but are instead suffering from a condition called knocking or pinging (not to be confused with the urban dictionary definition of these words). Pinging is a (really stupid) term used in the automotive world that is an onomatopoeia (our big word of the day) to describe the noise made when fuel burns too early and uncontrollably in the engine causing a small, premature explosion.

“But isn’t the whole point of an engine to basically explode fuel and convert heat into rotation?”, we hear the nerds in the crowd asking.

Basically yes. However, engines rely heavily on the timing of the explosion relative to the engines position to:

a. Provide the most amount of power available from the fuel and,

b. Keep the load on the internal engine components as low as possible.

The timing of an engine is actually one of the most critical parts of getting an engine to run and make power and advancing the spark earlier in the cycle (as a rule) tends to net slightly more power.

However, as the spark is advanced too far, the power gains will slowly drop off while the chance of pinging or knocking goes steadily up. As knocking begins, the chance of damaging internal engine components also does with everything from stretched rods, impacted bearings and even catastrophic failure all having potential roots in pinging.

What does this have to do with Hyundai’s though?

Well you might be thinking that the entire issue with Hyundai’s at this point is the engineers designed them; A moderately too advanced timing causing poor combustion control though, it’s actually much simpler than that.

There are actually a few main causes of pinging in an engine, too much advance in the spark timing (a fairly common cause), hot spots and higher compression ratios (something we’ll need a big blog to explain) and poor fuel quality.

Even though it may not seem like it, almost every situation where we see pinging in an older Hyundai is down to poor quality fuel. Fuels like 91RON and E10 are both really volatile and burn more readily than other fuels which makes them more susceptible to the kind of explosion causing pinging.

These Hyundai’s almost always experience pinging solely based on the quality of fuel used which makes this one of the easier problems to sole with a car. Realistically though, the problem might not actually be the car at all but instead, the price of the car.

Older Hyundai’s in particular are some of the more reliable cheap cars on the market today (and boy are they cheap). Especially with fuel prices lately, there’s often not any incentive to put expensive fuel in cheap cars, ergo the problem with rattily Hyundai’s will continue until the last one goes to scrap.

If you have any questions about this blog post, would like a second opinion from a mechanic or would like to find an honest mechanic in Brisbane, check out Kashy here.

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Lachlan @ Kashy

Lachlan @ Kashy

A blog from an avid auto enthusiast and our Kashy head mechanic. We try to answer your questions about cars and the automotive industry in Australia.