When your car starts developing a problem, often the first sign is going to be an unfamiliar sound that you hear when you’re driving. This is the way your car will communicate with you and indicate that something is wrong.
To avoid major repair bills, it’s best if you know what each sound means so you can get the problem fixed. Now, if you are not a mechanic, all of the sounds might sound the same. But, almost all parts of the vehicle make a different sound when they are about to fail.
So, if you are driving down the road and you hear grinding, clunking, squalling, clicking, groaning, and rattling sounds coming from your car, you better know what is going on. Here are 8 common noises your car makes and how to fix them:
8 Common Noises Your Car Makes and How To Fix Them
There are a lot of sounds that a car can make when some parts are starting to fail, or have failed already. You might notice some noises that the car is making now and wasn’t making them yesterday. Each noise is tied to a different malfunction.
I did some research online and found the 8 most common noises your car makes and how to fix them:
1. Screeching or grinding sound coming from your wheels
If you hear screeching or grinding sounds coming from your wheels, it is most likely that your brake pads are worn out and there is metal-to-metal contact. Most brake pads are designed with a little indicator built into them that squeak when your pads are getting low and need to be replaced.
If the brake pad material completely wears away, the metal backing will rub on your brake rotors and make a really bad grinding noise. There is a good chance that your brake rotors will be damaged if the brake pads are not replaced on time. At this point, you will need to take your wheels off and visually inspect the brake pads and the brake rotors and replace them if needed.
2. Chirping or a squealing sound coming from your engine compartment
If you hear a constant chirping or squalling noise or just when you start the car up first thing in the morning, most likely you have a loose or worn-out belt.
A lot of the things in your engine such as the alternator, power steering pump, compressor, and more are driven by belts. All of these components are driven by one belt called a serpentine belt. Sometimes, the individual components like the alternator will have their own belt. When that belt gets old, screeched, cracked, or oily, they start slipping and that’s where you’re gonna get that squeaking or chirping noise.
So, if your car has multiple accessory belts and you’re having trouble figuring out which one it is, one thing that might help you is to start the car up when it normally makes a sound and then play around with the steering wheel. See if it changes the sound. If it makes it come or go, it could be something to do with your power steering pump belt.
Also, you can play around with the AC. Turn it off and on and see if that changes the noise. If it does, it could be the belt associated with your AC compressor.
Basically, what you want to do is open the hood and visually inspect the belts. Check each belt and look for cracks or other damages. Also, turn the belts and check ribs on the inner side of the belt. You really shouldn’t be able to turn the belt 90 degrees easily. If you manage to do so, then your belt is too loose.
3. Groaning or whining noise when turning the steering wheel
If you hear a groaning or a whining noise coming from under the hood when turning the steering wheel could be due to low power steering fluid or an air leak somewhere in the power steering system.
In order to verify that you are having issues with the power steering system is to check it. Open the hood and look for the power steering fluid reservoir. Some of the reservoirs will have a level written on the side and some will have a dipstick. Anyhow, check the level of the power steering fluid and add more if needed.
Another problem that can cause the groaning or whining noise even though the fluid level is fine, is air getting in the power steering system. While the car is running, a lot of bubbles will be produced inside the reservoir. You can actually run the car and open the cap and look for any bubbles. If you let these problems go on too long, you’ll end up permanently damaging the power steering pump, You’ll have to replace the pump in order to fix the noise.
4. Groaning or a rumbling sound when driving on the highway
If you hear a groaning or a rumbling sound when driving on the highway fast and the noise gets louder the faster you go, the issue could be worn wheel bearings or worn-out tires.
This high-speed rumbling sound with the tires and the bearings is probably one of the hardest to diagnose. A couple of little tricks that can help you diagnose the problem are getting your car on a nice highway and start accelerating. Then, shift to neutral and see if the sound goes away. If it goes away, then you might have an issue with the transmission.
If the noise is still present, the issue is to be something with your wheels. Often it’s the tire itself or the wheel bearings. The wheel bearing is nothing you can really see. It’s something you can only really hear. The one thing you can try to do is weave side to side while driving on the highway and see if the sound changes sides.
When it comes to checking your tires, it is much easier. You can visually inspect the tires and see if they are worn out, bulging, or not properly inflated.
5. Clicking sound coming from underneath the car when turning left or right
If you hear a clicking sound coming from underneath the front side of the car when you are making a hard left or right turn it is your CV axle going bad.
You may also experience shaking or vibration in the steering wheel as you are accelerating and the vibration stops as soon as you let off the accelerator. A CV shaft is a steel shaft that connects your gearbox and your wheels. It has a joint on each end covered in a rubber boot. Most of the vehicles will have a CV axle on each side on the front. Some cars even have a CV axle in the back.
In order to see if your CV axle is going bad, you will need to get underneath the vehicle. Inspect the rubber boots and look for any cracks or other visible damage. The boots are supposed to be filled with grease in order to lubricate the joint. What usually happens is they get old and cracked. The grease gets out and the dirt comes in and it destroys the joint which is why you’re hearing the clicking sound.
6. Clucking sounds when driving over rough roads or over bumps
If you hear clucking sounds when driving over rough roads or over bumps, it could be due to suspension parts going bad, but usually, it’s just the stabilizer links going bad.
In my experience, the stabilizer links are one of the most common culprits for suspension noise. They’re really easy to diagnose and cheap to fix. On most vehicles, you will be able to inspect the stabilizer links without removing the wheel.
A stabilizer link is a vertical bar that connects to your shocks. The stabilizer link has a joint at each end with a rubber boot filled with grease. When inspecting the stabilizer link, look for any damage to the rubber boot that might have let the grease out. Also, try turning the stabilizer link left and right. If a stabilizer link is brand new, you won’t be able to turn it not even a little. If it’s turning way too easy, it’s time to change your stabilizer links.
7. Buzzing or rattling sound at certain speeds or RPMs
If you hear a buzzing or rattling sound at certain speeds or RPMs, the issue causing that sound is a damaged exhaust shield. Different elements of the exhaust system such as the exhaust manifold, catalytic converter, and muffler are protected by thin metal shields.
These exhaust shields can easily be damaged from rocks, rust, or bent from bad parking. When an exhaust shield is damaged, they start to make really loud buzzing noises at certain speeds or RPMs. For example, when you get your engine to 1500 RPMs, you could hear a buzzing noise underneath your console or under the hood.
The best way to identify where the buzzing noise is coming from is to get underneath the vehicle and try to replicate the sound when the engine is turned off. Wait until everything is nicely cooled down and trace the exhaust pipes underneath the car. Check all of the exhaust shields that can be found around the exhaust pipes, catalytic converter, and muffler.
Many times rocks get in between the exhaust shield and the actual part and make the vibrating. Sometimes the fittings rust and fall apart and bang against the exhaust parts. Just poke around everything and try to replicate the buzzing sound.
8. Car running loud sounding like a hotrod
If your car is running loud and sounding like a hotrod, it means that you have an exhaust leak. The exhaust is meant to pass from your engine through the muffler to quiet it down. If there is a hole and the exhaust is allowed to escape before the muffler, that’s where you’ll get a really loud noise. The bigger the hole, the louder the noise will be. Sometimes the hole can be so big that you will smell the exhaust gases inside the cabin.
Exhaust leaks can be caused by a few different things. The most common cause for an exhaust leak is rust on your exhaust pipe or your muffler. Rust eats away the metal and makes a hole allowing the exhaust to exit the system before the muffler.
So, what you want to do is get the engine running and stand outside. See if you can kind of get the general vicinity of where the sound is coming from. Then, turn off the engine and let it cool down. Crawl under the vehicle to find out where specifically that leak is coming from.
Those were the 8 common noises your car makes and how to fix them. Please let us know if this article has helped you in any way.