Do cars ever really backfire?

I always hear gunshots described this way, but cannot recall ever experiencing this, or hearing it.



Modern fuel-injected cars don’t. Older, carbureted cars with choke or tuning problems do. And yes, it can sound like a gunshot; more often, though, it’s a softer, more extended “kuh-BOOM” than the sharp crack of a gun.

My bike does if I run cheap gas in it, and yes, your immediate thought would be gunfire.

A friend’s run-down pickup used to backfire. This was mid 1970’s. It used to startle the hell out of me, no matter how many times it happened. It sounded exactly like a gunshot, although not nearly as loud. But plenty loud enough to make me do a sitting position buttocks-jump over and over and over…

I’ve had a golf cart backfire on me. Surprised the hell out of both of us that were in the cart at the time.

I think it sounds like what people think a gunshot sounds like. There used to be a car that drove by where I lived a couple of times a week which was backfiring, and during that period of time there were a few mentions in the newspaper of people “hearing gunfire.”

My riding mower backfires whenever I turn it off. I think it’s kinda cute.

I remember hearing cars backfire from time to time during my 80s childhood. My dad is quite good at distinguishing gunshots from backfires, and I think maybe I could tell them apart if I heard them close together. Oh, and mark us down as another household with a ride-on lawn mower that backfires when you turn it off.

I think as people say its rare with modern cars.

And re it sounding like a gunshot, although I can’t find the specific incident on a google search on at least one occassion a man was shot and killed by British soldiers in Northern Ireland during the Troubles when his car backfired as he drove past their post and they thought they were under attack.

Here’s a little story from Click and Clack.

Just go to a classic car rally that features vehicles from the early 1970’s, where the manufacturers were trying to match ancient carburetor designs to modern antipollution equipment. You’ll think you were in a shootout.

One of my mother’s friends had a giant white station wagon in the early 80’s that would backfire on demand. You just had to get up to decent speed and suddenly floor the accelerator so that it went up to high rev’s. She used to let me borrow it for joy rides sometimes before I even got my license. I had a great time cruising through neighborhoods and kicking off backfires at certain people’s houses.

They are loud and sound close enough to gun shots for a good approximation (I know perfectly well what real gunshots sound like). It makes you wonder if all of those old neighborhoods where the streets were supposedly filled with the sound of random gunfire just had some really crappy cars driving through all the time.

Wait until you hear a nitrous backfire. That’s the loud one!

Of course they do! Though, come to think of it, less often these days.

I think cars are likeliest to backfire after cresting a sharp little hill. You give it plenty of gas to get up the hill and come over the top, and suddenly let off the gas, but going downhill keeps the engine spinning fast. That’s a great time to backfire.

My backpack leaf blower always backfires after I stop it. I try to anticipate the moment and emphatically annunciate a “P” sound right at that instant, as if I am the one backfiring.

I am pleased with the opportunity this thread gives me to share the mundane and pointless.

I had a 1977 Sportster (possibly the shittiest motorcycle ever made) years ago that would backfire regularly. It had an aftermarket carb (S&S Super B) and other mods (it was like that when I got it), and I don’t know if that contributed to the problem, or if it was worse before the mods.

God, that bike was a piece of crap.

I can’t tune for shit (and with twin Weber DCOE, don’t think I can afford to!) and get a nice backfire on downhill, off-throttle situations.

But I’m not “off-throttle” too often. :wink:

[nit pick]

A: 99% of what is being described is an ‘after fire.’ One out the exhauast.

B: A ‘backfire’ is one that comes back through the intake & out the carburetor. 99% of the time.

[/nit pick] :smack:

And when it comes back through the intake with nitrous, it’s real fun!

Says the guy with no eyebrows!

When I was 18 or 19 I had a lot of fun idling my car and turning the screws on a Weber DCOE, it was on my 1978 MGB. I don’t remember any backfiring but when driving up and down hills/mountains along the Blue Ridge Parkway it would lay out a smokescreen on the downhill sections!

Only backfires I hear lately are from older pickup trucks, usually ones with the stake beds that carry wood.