When your car makes unusual sounds, this can indicate something is not right. The problems associated with strange noises can range from minor to serious, but even those minor ones can end up becoming costly repairs if left alone. When your vehicle begins to make noises, listen closely as it is telling you something is wrong. Knowing what specific noises indicate is the first step in keeping your car ready for the road.
Squealing noises are perhaps some of the most common ones heard as the cause can be from several different components. Most often, the brakes are at fault for producing this noise. If pressing on the brakes results in a squeal, it is time to have them checked, not just for peace of mind, but also for safety reasons. Some brakes even come with sensors built in to produce a squealing noise when the pads wear down. If the brake pads are replaced and the squealing noise continues, you should have the rotors checked for wear. Brake issues are not the only cause of squealing however, as it can also indicate a worn or loose fan belt or compressor belt. When a belt becomes loose, or begins to thin, there is always a risk of breakage. If this occurs, the car will fail to operate properly. Replacing a belt is not typically considered a major repair, but failing to do so can cause damage to other, more expensive components.
Knocking or Pounding
A heavy knocking or pounding sound coming from under the bonnet can indicate a problem with the engine or drive train. Some of the possible causes include worn crankshaft bearings, worn connecting rods or loose motor mounts. If left unattended, any of these issues can result in very expensive repairs. If the sound seems to be coming from the underneath of the car, it can mean a universal joint, prop shaft, CV joint or other suspension system component. If any of these issues are the cause of the noise, it can pose safety issues. If the steering or suspension system is malfunctioning, it can cause you to lose control of the car while driving. If all of these components check out okay, check to ensure the exhaust system is connected in all locations.
Ticking or Pinging
If your turn signal is not on and you hear a ticking sound, check your oil. When a car becomes low on oil or if the oil is old, the tappets can become dry which results in a ticking sound. This sound often occurs while the engine is idling, but the ticking speeds up as the engine revs. If left untreated, it could mean having to replace an engine down the road. A pinging sound or a soft thumping can also indicate a problem with the engine or fuel system. Pinging often results when the fuel used in the car is of a low quality. If this is the cause, using a higher-octane fuel will remedy the problem. If the pinging continues with higher quality fuel, the timing may need to be checked.
Screeching or Scraping
Screeching or scraping noises are other noises that brakes can make when the pads wear down. This noise occurs when the brakes are pressed and the car comes to a stop. Once the pads wear down too much, it can cause the brakes to fail completely posing a serious safety problem. It can also lead to damage to other braking components. The brakes may not necessarily screech or scrap every time you press them, but even if the noise is heard occasionally, it is time to get them checked as they will continue to get worse if left untreated.
A whining noise coming from under the bonnet commonly points to a problem with the transmission. The first step is to check the transmission fluid to ensure it is at a proper level. If it is and the whining is caused by the transmission, it may eventually become difficult to put the car into gear. Another and less expensive cause of whining is a bad wheel bearing. Most likely, if this is the case, you will hear the noise as the car is moving. A worn out belt can also cause a whining noise on occasion depending on the location of the belt and how worn down it is. You can often check the belts visually to ensure they are in good shape.
When your car begins making a scary sound, ignoring it and hoping it will disappear can have lasting consequences. Most commonly, the noise indicates something minor, and catching it and having the issue repaired early saves time and money in the end. Listening to your car is important and knowing what sounds need to be checked right away is crucial for both safety and performance.