Car Doctor Q&A: Why Is My Civic Booming, and Why Do I See Them Everywhere?

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Our Civic owner has a two-part question, the second half of which transforms the humble Car Doctor into the Brain Doctor.

Q. I recently purchased a used Honda Civic Touring and I like everything about this car with one exception. Twice now since I have owned it, there is a loud booming, banging, popping sound.

I took the car back to the used car dealer where the car came from and they couldn’t find any problems. The dealer said maybe the car is backfiring from bad gas. The first time it did it I was convinced it was a gunshot or fire works. The second time I thought something hit the roof of the car.

Any idea what this could be?

Oh, and not a car question, but before I purchased my Honda Civic Touring, I never saw another one on the road, since then I seem to see them everywhere. Why is this?

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A. I don’t think it is an issue with contaminated fuel, if it were the engine would have run poorly for the entire tank of fuel not just once or twice. I think the problem is related to the stereo system.

Read Our Review of the Civic Touring at

The Honda Civic Touring uses a 450 watt sound system and it is possible the noise you are hearing is coming through the speakers. Honda has had several updates to this sound system that have covered everything from, no sound to loud popping, to GPS and LaneWatch updates.

Your second question is slightly beyond my expertise as the Car Doctor. Here goes, there is an actual cognitive reason referred to as the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon, sometimes known as frequency illusion. After you have purchased your car, now you brain notices and retains the observation, the cars were always there, but now you have a reason to see them.

John Paul is public affairs manager for AAA Southern New England. A certified mechanic, Paul tests dozens of new cars each year and also hosts a radio show on AM 950 and 550.

John Paul

John Paul