What Noises Is Your Car Making? How To Tell What Those Noises Mean


Car Noises

Is your car making an odd noise?  It is important to find out where the noise is coming from, and prevent a more severe, progressive problem that may be increasingly expensive to fix.  If you are concerned about a noise, a quick solution is to stop by one of our shops and have one of our technicians ride with you on a Complimentary “Quick Check”.  They can let you know if you have a problem that needs to be addressed right away, or if it is something that can wait.  One of our customers stopped by with a noise, and all we needed to do was put the car on a lift and remove the trapped piece of sagebrush that was rubbing!  We all like those easy fixes!

Here are some common noises that you might hear that may need your attention:

Squealing (upon braking):  As brake pads wear down, they will require replacement.  The pads have a “wear bar” that is intended to squeal when the pads become too thin to be effective. When that “wear bar” makes contact with the rotor, you will hear a squealing sound.  This means that you need to have your brakes checked, the pads replaced, and possibly the rotors resurfaced (machined so they are smooth) or replaced. 

Grinding (upon braking):  If you ignore the squeal, the noise will turn into grinding, which is the metal backing rubbing on the brake rotor.  Not only is it unsafe, the longer it goes the more expensive the repair can become.  The metal backing will wear grooves into the rotor, probably requiring rotor replacement.  Any other grinding sounds should be looked at as soon as possible, as there is some type of metal-upon-metal contact without lubrication occurring that will generally only get worse and cause damage if not addressed.

Clunk or clinking (going over bumps!):  Something in your suspension is loose or broken, probably due to hitting one of our city’s many potholes!  This could be a CV joint, axle part, or struts/shocks which will  generally become worse over time. 

Sudden Chirping Noise under the hood:  If it is not a bird in your engine, a chirping noise that starts out of the blue could be a pulley coming apart or a belt about to break.  Have it checked out immediately!  Some pulleys that break can shut down the engine (the serpentine belt powers all of your cars major systems), so if it breaks you will be left stranded on the side of the road with major engine damage.

Whoop-whoop or groaning: A wheel bearing going bad is grinding into the “race” or groove in which the bearing turns.  Bearings are intended to reduce friction in the wheel housing, but if they become worn and out-of-round, they no longer roll friction-free, requiring replacement.  With a wheel bearing  problem, the sound changes as you turn right or left (could get better or could get worse). The groaning also becomes worse as you accelerate, similar to the sound you hear when you drive on the rumble strip on the side of the road, although not quite as loud.

Knock Knock!  Who’s there?  Your engine may simply be telling you it doesn’t like the type/grade of gas you have been using. If the octane level is too low, the fuel may improperly ignite and make a knocking sound. Using cheap gas for long periods of time can cause deposits to build up, which can increase knocking sounds. Improper spark plugs (using an inexpensive or incorrect spark plug for your particular vehicle) can also add to creation of deposits and increase the engine’s internal temperature, also adding to a knocking noise.  Running out of or low on oil can create friction, noise, and will eventually (quickly) seize and destroy your car’s engine. As you can tell, there are several reasons your car’s engine may “knock” and it is important to find out the cause and resolve the issue, sooner rather than later!

Do not ignore noises that crop up in your vehicle.    Many automotive parts are “wear” items and will require periodic replacement…that noise is probably just telling you your car needs some attention!  Most noises become worse, and more expensive, to repair over time.  Addressing problems early can save you time and money!  Let Honest Accurate Auto Service help you keep on track and riding safely!

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