For how much is actually happening inside a car to make it run, they are actually pretty quiet machines. You’ve got pistons pumping, belts whirring, and brake pads grinding. And yet, we can zoom down the highway in peace and quiet.
Until we can’t.
If we listen, our cars will talk to us. We won’t always like what they have to say, but at least they will be honest. Here are 10 noises your car might be making to get your attention. Listen up!
1. Click Click Click. . and Silence
This one tops the list because it is definitely hard to ignore a car that doesn’t start at all. The telltale-clicking sound of a dead battery will cramp anyone’s style. Generally, this is an easy fix. Just grab those jumper cables (that you always keep in your car, right??) and recruit a good samaritan and their engine.
However, if this sound rings in your ears frequently, especially if you just gave it a jump, then your battery is sending you a message that it might be all worn out. Get the charge tested as soon as possible. A new battery might be in your future. Luckily, this is one of the cheapest fixes on our list.
2. Shake, Rattle, and Roll
First, if you hear things rattling and rolling, check the trunk. While annoying, it won’t require a mechanic. If the rattling is not coming from the trunk, the exhaust system is the likely culprit. Those are parts that hang low under the car and can sometimes get knocked around or come loose. You don’t want to lose your catalytic converter or muffler on the next speed bump, so take a look at all those bolts and tighten them.
3. Name That Tune
Is your car humming? While you might like to blare tunes as you drive, your car should stay the strong and silent type. If you turn down your music and still hear a steady humming, there could be a few things wrong. The transmission could be struggling, a wheel bearing might be damaged, or there might just be a need for lubrication. Either way, taking that singing car to the mechanic is a good idea.
4. Keep the Sizzle for the Steak
Your car really shouldn’t be sizzling. If you hear a hissing or sizzling sort of sound, it is probably an indicator of a leak. Something is getting out that shouldn’t. This one is a tricky one to check because hissing generally means there is heat or pressure involved, so you will want to be very careful as you take a look. Again, a mechanic might be a good idea here.
5. A Bird Under the Hood
This is not impossible. Critters can sometimes hide out in engines. Mice are a pretty common homesteader in those nice and cozy engine areas. But, if you don’t see a bird or a nest, then the chirping sound is probably coming from the engine itself. Generally, this will point to a belt problem. A belt could be worn out, worn thin, or simply out of alignment.
6. My Engine is Clapping for Me
It feels good to get applause. We all like to be appreciated. But, since your car doesn’t have hands, any clapping or flapping noise it is creating is a bad sign. A slapping noise is one of those signals that deserves an immediate stop! That sound typically comes from a broken belt flapping around the engine. Driving your car with a broken belt can cause serious and permanent damage. If you hear this noise, pull over as soon as you can safely do so, and take a look.
7. Everything is Fine. . . As Long as I’m Driving Straight
Does your car get riled up when you make a turn? Squealing, clicking, clunking, grinding, or groaning are all sounds that can indicate trouble when you make a turn. It could be as simple as a low level of power steering. It could also mean a more serious problem with your suspension system. Pay attention to how often it happens or if it happens on both sides. This information can help the mechanic as he’s making a diagnosis.
8. Stop the Screeching
Brakes can be a noisy part of the car. Brake pads are built-in with a communication system. As they start to wear down, they are designed to make noise. This is a wonderful signal to change those pads. If you ignore that screeching noise, it will lead to a grinding noise, which means damaged rotors and a much higher bill!
9. I am Engine, Hear me Roar
Unless you’ve tweaked the design purposefully, an engine shouldn’t really roar to life with every acceleration. Certainly, it might make a little more noise as you speed up, but if it is suddenly roaring every time you press the gas pedal, then there might be a crack in the exhaust system that usually works to minimize those engine noises.
10. Knock Knock, Who’s There?
It’s your engine. And it is wondering if you are using the right type of gasoline. Sometimes a lower octane fuel than the engine really likes can cause a knocking sound. However, if you try a higher octane fuel and the knocking persists, get that checked out right away. It could be a loose or completely broken part and could do serious damage.
While some of these noises are more urgent than others, they all deserve attention, whether it is your current car or one you are test-driving at the used car dealer. If you hear any of these noises on a test drive, it might mean moving on to another option. At the very least, it means asking more questions about past maintenance records.
Ideally, the only sounds coming from your car are the ones that you create yourself. Blare that music and sing along as much as you want. But if your car starts singing along with you, listen up and take a look.
Looking for a great deal on a used car with sound (see what we did there) mechanics? Contact our Salt Lake City used car dealership. We specialize in rebuilt title cars, which have been involved in some kind of insurance incident in the past. We meticulously rebuild them, so they’re like new–but for a fraction of the price. We sell to local shoppers, or we can ship our rebuilt title cars anywhere in the country.