When a vehicle starts to make noises, you shouldn’t ignore it. It’s usually a cry for help. Early repairs save money and regular maintenance reduces the likelihood of major problems. Here are a few tips to help you identify where the sound originates and possible causes.
Under The Hood
Your vehicle’s engine, cooling, and electrical components lie under the hood. A ticking, tapping, clicking, or clacking noise can indicate problems with the tappets hit the top of the engine. Left unattended, they can cause engine misfires and damage. Take your vehicle to a licensed mechanic.
A knocking sound may indicate fuel issues. Check your manual and use the recommended octane fuel for your vehicle.
Squealing or chirping noises when you accelerate usually indicate a loose or misaligned belt. A flapping sound may indicate a belt near failure. It’s a simple repair that could save you a call for roadside assistance if it breaks and you’re left stranded.
A popping sound could mean anything from bad spark plugs or wires to ignition problems. It could also mean a major problem such as a defective catalytic converter. New cars also use many computerized components very susceptible to electrical problems, so get your car into the shop as soon as possible.
Hissing or sizzling could mean you have a coolant, air, or oil leak. It could be a simple repair that could save you plenty of money.
Under the Car
The underside of the car houses the exhaust system, transmission, suspension, brakes, and steering mechanisms. If you hear a low pitched humming under the car, it could come from any of the moving parts. Most likely candidates are a worn bearing, joint, or gear.
If you hear grinding when you shift gears, it’s probably the clutch. It may need replacement or realignment, or the sound may come from the transmission. Either way, get it checked by a qualified mechanic. Adjusting a clutch is far less expensive than a replacement. If a transmission fails, you’re not going anywhere.
Some of the most common sounds people detect under a car relate to the brakes. Squealing sounds when you apply the brakes could just indicate they’re dirty, but it could also mean that it’s time for new brake pads, rotors, or shoes. If the brakes grind when you apply them, it’s definitely time to take your vehicle in as the shoes or pads are worn and metal is now damaging the rotors. Clunking may indicate a damaged, missing, or misaligned brake component.
If you notice an unusual sound when you turn a corner, it indicates problems with the steering mechanism. Rattling, clicking or clunking noises usually mean worn joints in your steering linkage or front suspension. Sounds can also come from the axle, particularly the CV joint which causes crunching or popping noises down by the wheel.
Exterior of the Car
Common complaints are rattling sounds. These are often caused by broken or loose parts. Check all brackets for integrity, especially the bracket that holds the muffler in place. It often rusts and breaks, but it is a simple, inexpensive repair in a muffler shop. Loose brake pads can also cause rattles.
You may also hear an odd rhythmic sound when you drive. This is often an indication of tire issues such, as under inflation, tire wear, or your car needs the wheels balanced.
When you hear a strange clunk when you drive over a bump, it could be something as simple as a loose muffler or broken shock absorber. If you hear a scraping sound, look under your car. You could have a branch lodged under your vehicle.
Narrow down where the sound comes from on your car. This can help a mechanic pinpoint the cause which saves you money. Don’t ignore unusual sounds – they’re often an indication of a problem and early detection prevents major damage.