We’ve all been there – you’re driving around town, when suddenly you notice a strange noise coming from your car. Your first hope is that it goes away – perhaps a stick became caught underneath the car, and will dislodge itself as you drive. Often though, we aren’t that lucky, and strange noises from our cars are a sign of a more serious problem. If you notice any of the following sounds when you’re driving, or when you start up your car, you’re going to want to have them checked out, before they turn into a bigger problem.
The first sound to look out for is a screeching noise. Whether quiet or loud, screeching is a sign something is wrong with your car. Worn down brake pads are a common cause of screeching. Brake pads let out a screech when they are close to running out, and this is by design. This is so the owner knows it’s time to change them before the pads run out entirely. If you notice the screech when you are driving, but it stops when you apply the brakes, this is likely the reason. In addition, if you just replaced the brake pads, they sometimes require a little wearing in, and will create a screeching noise for the first few miles.
Scraping or Grinding
Besides a screech, you may also notice scraping or grinding sounds related to your brakes. If your pads wore down completely, metal will start scraping against metal, and a loud scraping noise is what you’ll hear. Now it’s definitely time to get your brakes checked out, because they are no longer functioning properly. Scraping and grinding noises can also result from problems with your ball-bearings or your brake rotors, along with several other possibilities. Scraping and grinding noises don’t sound pleasant while driving, giving you just one more reason to get them checked out sooner rather than later.
One of the more serious noises your car could make is a rod knock. It sounds like someone knocking on the oil pan under your car, making a metal clang as you drive along. A rod knock is typically the result of a lack of engine oil, and now there are problems inside the engine. If you ignore a rod knock for too long, you risk ruining the entire engine. So the next time you’re experiencing an auto rod knock situation, take it for inspection as soon as you can, or more costly repairs could be in your immediate future.
Hissing or Sizzling
This type of noise you’ll hear once you shut your car off and step outside. This is the result of a leak somewhere under your hood, meaning you are likely using fluids. This could be oil, coolant, or even wiper fluid. Whatever it is, it is leaking out, and finding a source of hot metal. Check all of your fluid levels, and see if any of them seem low. You may also be able to tell what type of fluid is leaking based on the smell coming from the car, or the location of the leak. When all else fails, take it to a trusted mechanic and have them check for you.
A Loud Bang
If you’re driving along, and your car suddenly makes a loud bang, it’s a startling experience. There are a few possibilities for what caused the bang. One of the most common reasons is an engine backfire. This is sometimes because the air-fuel mixture isn’t right, or because the catalytic convertor isn’t functioning properly.
Roaring With Acceleration
When the noise presents itself mainly when you’re driving at high speeds – like on the highway – the first thing to look at is the exhaust system. Another possibility is the transmission, where it isn’t going into the next gear, or the clutch it slipping.
Finally, you may notice some vibrations as you drive along that ultimately become too loud to ignore. Some vibrations commonly occur while driving – uneven ground or something rolling around in your cup holder. Other vibrations could mean unbalanced tires, or they are wearing down, or maybe something has come loose under the hood. If you notice a vibration, and can’t immediately detect the source, it’s a good idea to have someone inspect it.
Don’t Let Car Noises Go Unattended
We’d all like to ignore car noises and hope they go away. Unfortunately, this rarely works out. So as soon as you start hearing an unfamiliar noise, take action. Use online tools to help you diagnose the noise, or take it to your mechanic. Dealing with a noise now will ensure your car remains safe, and may even prevent more costly bills down the road.