It happens quite often that we hear a friend or a family member’s voice over the phone and think, “They are coming down with something.” Small changes in someone’s voice can tell you that something is wrong. And even though it’s not an apt comparison, small changes in your car’s “voice” should also tell you that there is something wrong with it. Whenever your vehicle is making a sound, it shouldn’t; you must listen (instead of drowning it under the sound of your stereo). And there are several car sounds you shouldn’t ignore.
Every unusual can be an indication of a problem. It might be a minor problem at first, but if you avoid fixing it for a long-time, it might become more cost-intensive or, worst, fatal.
Table of Contents
Car Sounds You Shouldn’t Ignore
Every unusual car sound is cause for concern, but if you understand what different unusual sounds mean, you might be able to make the right repair call.
1. Squeaking and Squealing – It Can Indicate Multiple Problems
Squealing and squeaking sounds when you are driving can hide multiple nasty surprises, but the two most common ones are belt problems under the hood and your brakes.
If your car squeaks when it starts and you hear a squealing sound when you accelerate from zero, it’s most likely from your serpentine belt. The sound might be an indication that the belt is about to give, and if that happens on the road, you might be left stranded. So if you start hearing that sound consistently, it might be time to book your auto-repair appointment.
A squeaking sound might be emanating from your tires every time you brake, which is a simple indication that your brake pads are about to die (or are already dead). These brake pads are what provide the friction that stops your vehicle, and they wear out over time. It’s often a good idea to get them replaced after every 50,000 miles driven, though it would be better to consult your car’s manual.
2. Knocking Sound – It’s Not a Funny “Knock Knock” Joke
Knocking is one engine sound you don’t want to hear and one of the car’s sounds you shouldn’t ignore. This sound usually means that your engine is not well lubricated, and the moving parts are grinding against each other. So the first thing you should do is stop the car, let it cool down for a few minutes, then check the oil level.
A faint knocking sound might simply go away once you change your engine oil, but it would still be a good idea to let a mechanic hear the knocking sound before changing your engine oil. In extreme cases, the knocking sound might mean that the engine has already been damaged beyond repair, and you need to change it.
3. Clunks And Whines in Automatic Vehicles
If you are one of the 96% of Americans who drive an automatic, you should keep an ear out for any “clunking” noise when you put your car in gear. If your car is making that sound and it’s also producing a low whine when you are driving, then there might be something wrong with your automatic transmission, more specifically the torque converter.
If the sound gets worst when the car is in reverse gear, it might indicate that you have a clogged transmission-fluid line. In any case, your vehicle is requesting a trip to the mechanic, and you should take it there before it gets more complicated, and the repair bill gets heavier.
4. Hissing Sound – Indicative Of A Leak
If your engine is hissing like an angry witch’s cauldron when you drive, there might be a fluid leak. The liquid would be pouring onto the hot engine block or another hot part of the engine and would evaporate with a loud “hiss.” If there is steam coming off of your hood along with the hissing sound, your engine might be overheating. You should stop and check the coolant level.
A disconnected hose or an air leak can also cause a hissing sound. A vacuum leak is another possible culprit. In some unusual cases, a hissing might also indicate problems with the belts. In any case, if you can find the cause of the hissing sound and can easily fix it, do it right away. If not, try getting it fixed at the nearest mechanic. It might not be a costly repair by itself, but if left untended, it can give way to another costly repair.
5. Gurgling Sound – Transmission Issue
A gurgling sound, especially when you shift gears, can mean that the fluid level in the transmission is low. When the fluid level is down, it pulls in more than usual air, which causes the gurgling sound, and if you don’t check and refill the transmission fluid to appropriate levels, it might cause permanent damage to your transmission, which might come with a hefty bill.
6. Grinding Sound – Metal On Metal
When metal is rubbing against metal, it produces a grinding sound, a lot of friction (which speeds up wear and tear), and heat, neither of which would be good for your car in the long run. It might be a body issue, bad water pump, worn alternator, or air condition compressor about to give up. Try to get it fixed ASAP. The grinding sound might also come from your wheels, which might be coming from worn brake linings or hub bearings.
7. Tire Noises – Not When You Are Making Doughnuts!
Tires make different kinds of noises because of different underlying problems. If your tire is wearing off unevenly (some treads are wearing faster than others), it would make a consistent noise, but it’s usually not loud enough to hear. A low hum or drumming sound might be from bad alignment. But a low grinding sound is cause for serious concern since it indicates that your wheel bearings are too worn.
8. Rattle Sound – Exhaust Or Water Pump
If you hear a persistent rattling sound as you drive or a hard rattle when you go over bumps, it might mean that your exhaust system has some problems. If the rattle sound is coming from the hood, your water pump might be nearing its demise.
Get Your Car’s Unusual Sounds Checked By Professional “Ears”
Nobody knows your car better than you do. So when it’s making an unusual sound, you would be the first to pick up on that. But even if you know something is wrong, you would need the help of professionals in determining what is wrong. Professional auto mechanics who hear these sounds day in and day out develop an “ear” for it. In a lot of cases, they can tell you precisely what’s wrong without even popping the hood open.
If you are in Columbus, Ohio when your car makes one of the sounds you shouldn’t ignore, and you need to visit an auto repair shop that can help you identify the problem with your vehicle and find an easy fix, feel free to drive to ATL Columbus. We would be happy to hear your car “speak” about its problem and solve them.