Frustrating distortion during recording?

I have one WAV like it needs to be for track #1. Now I just tried to play it back while recording the new track that accompanies the first. I noticed while I was doing this overdub that I could hear distortion (crackle/pop/etc) in the playback, but I didn’t think it would affect the new audio signal I was feeding in. It’s all more than 30 minutes long, so my fingers were tired from that guitar work by the time I was finished. Only to discover the distortion was also in the recording! Arg. I have Windows XP Professional with 6GB RAM and a 3 gHz Pentium 4 processor. Audacity 2.0.2 from exe.

How do I diagnose and fix this exasperating distortion during overdub?

Does the new track include both the original and the added-in material? If so, it is then possible that the total sound level of both pieces of music has created overload (“clipping”). Have you turned on “Show Clipping”? (View > Show Clipping)

Have a listen to each track on its own (use the track “solo” button.
If the sound of each individual track is clean, then use the track gain sliders to lower the levels of each of the tracks so that the “combined” level is below 0 dB.

The first track is clean and no distortion appears until overdub, which of course only remains permanent when recorded in second track. Amplitude on the second track is low (as is the first) because these are both intended to be relatively quiet in the final song.

The new track does not include the old track. I’m keeping all tracks separate for later assembly. I will try “Show clipping” but I will be very surprised if two quiet acoustic guitar-plucking tracks cause it.