Any new noise or sound that you notice when driving or even when just parked with the engine running can be an early warning. That warning could be an indication that the car, truck, or SUV that you depend on every day is due for some overdue and badly needed routine maintenance. Your vehicle may even require a more extensive repair.
Ignoring any new sounds and noises that you hear can have serious consequences. Ignoring those warning sounds could lead to even more damage requiring a costly and expensive car repair.
Since a major malfunction can easily leave you stranded, you should keep a phone number handy for a garage that provides emergency roadside assistance. Some garages offer after-hours evening and weekend assistance for when, late at night, you find yourself broken down, on a remote and deserted road, alone and in need of help.
This noise could be coming from the engine itself, or it could be coming from any number of accessories under the hood. The grinding may be originating with the alternator, power steering pump, AC compressor, cooling fans, or various pulleys. Note whether you hear the noise when the car is parked and running, or only when it is moving straight or when turning or when braking. Turn off the car’s air conditioner or heater to see if components related to those systems might be to blame.
If a sizzling sound is heard from under the hood just after the engine is shut off, something like coolant is probably leaking onto a hot engine part such as the exhaust manifold. If left unattended, such a leak will eventually result in the engine overheating, which can lead to serious engine damage requiring repair.
A knocking noise coming from the engine can be a sign of inadequate lubrication, an improper grade of fuel, or a serious problem within the engine itself such as a worn camshaft, crankshaft, or connecting rod bearings, or even a failing timing belt or timing belt tensioner.
If you hear a tapping or clicking sound coming from the engine, first check the engine oil level. The cause could also be something more serious such as a valve train that needs adjustment or repair or a problem with the lifters inside of the engine assembly.
A flapping noise when the vehicle is parked and running could be something hitting the fan blades or a belt that’s coming apart. If only heard when the vehicle is in motion, it could indicate a problem with the tires and tire tread.
Any noise heard only when changing or shifting gears is most likely a problem with the car’s transmission. Other than verifying that the transmission fluid is at the proper level, diagnosing and correcting a transmission problem is usually best left to a transmission specialist.
A high-pitched squealing sound when accelerating can be an indication of a loose or worn belt. Since the belt may be operating several necessary components, having the tension corrected or the belt replaced might avoid more serious and costly repairs.
A hissing or whistling sound can be an indication of a leak in any number of hoses under the hood. The source could be escaping hydraulic fluid, engine coolant, air, or even high-pressure steam. The cause can often be located and identified with a simple visual inspection.
A loud boom or bang is most likely an indication of a faulty catalytic converter or an engine backfire. An engine backfire can be a result of a dirty or clogged air filter. It can be a sign of incorrect engine timing or a faulty spark plug. If a faulty catalytic converter is to blame, have that component checked by a mechanic.
A rattling sound heard coming from under the car is likely a sign of one or more loose exhaust system components such as the muffler, catalytic converter, or exhaust pipe. The fix may be simple as tightening or securing the loose component, or it may be damaged requiring replacement. Any leak of exhaust gasses under the car should be seen as a health and safety hazard for the driver and any passenger in the car.
Any scraping or grinding noise heard only when braking is most certainly a sign of a needed brake system repair. Worn brakes may squeal or scrape even when the brake pedal is not applied. Normal wear and tear on system pads and rotors and damaged or broken brake system components can result in various noises that clearly indicate the need for brake system service or repair.
Any sound when turning a corner could be coming from the car’s steering linkage, indicating a need for lubrication or possibly component replacement or repair. Turning noises might also be a symptom of a worn or faulty suspension, a failing power steering pump, worn wheel bearing, or CV joints that need to be replaced.
Any thumping or clunking sounds, especially if mostly heard when traveling over bumps, can be warning that the vehicles shock absorbers are worn out. Failure to have worn shock absorbers replaced can eventually lead to other related problems with the vehicle’s braking and steering.
If you hear a scratching or scraping sound when the windshield wipers are operating, the rubber inserts probably just need replacing. If you wait until you find yourself in a torrential downpour, you might find your vision impaired sufficiently to prevent driving safely. And if the wiper arms scratch your windshield, you could be facing an expensive windshield replacement.
A wide variety of sounds and noises are just a normal part of an operating vehicle and are therefore to be expected. Sounds like the normal hum of tires on pavement, the whistling of wind coming through worn weather stripping, and the various squeaks that come from the auto’s body as adjoining parts vibrate and rub together are just a few of those you likely become accustomed to overtime.
Any new noises and sounds should be checked out. Ignoring them will often lead to additional problems and even expensive but avoidable repairs.
The annual required auto inspection from a Texas state inspection center can identify some problems before they become apparent.
Trained and certified mechanics like those available in Tyler at Stewart’s Donnybrook Automotive can diagnose any noises you notice, correct the issues identified, and soon have you safely on your way again.