Determining Which Car Noises are Normal

Automobiles are complex machines. They almost speak to us with their car noises. There are so many moving parts and different processes that get set into motion when we turn on our car. They all come with their own unique set of noises. Some of these are completely normal, and some act as a warning sign. But, which car noises are bad? Troubleshooting these noises can save you money on car repairs in the long run if caught early. We’ll help you perform your own car noise diagnosis.

1. We’ve already talked about this common noise in another blog: a small squeak that you hear when you press on the brakes. This is a completely normal warning noise telling you that it’s time to replace your pads. But just because it’s normal, don’t ignore it! This small squeak can turn into a loud scraping noise, which indicates that you have waited way too long and caused real damage. And a small percentage of the time, that small squeak can actually mean something else. So, if changing the pads doesn’t solve the problem it’s best to get your brakes inspected.

2. What if i hear a clunking noise while braking? This is a different issuer altogether. This is symptomatic of worn steering components or a disc brake caliper that is not mounted properly. It could even be brake hardware that is damaged or missing!

3. There is another squeal that you may hear when driving at higher speeds. This is most likely a belt squeal, indicating a loose belt. It can also be an indication of belt-driven accessory failure. This kind of squeal is not a good thing and you should bring your car in to be serviced.

4. Ever hear a faint click-click-clicking noise when you turn your car off? This is just the manifold cooling off. This is completely normal.

5. Now, if you hear a clicking noise when turning your wheels, this is bad. It’s most likely the sound of your CV joint wearing out.

6. What about a scraping noise from the rear of the car? Yeah, that’s not a tree branch dragging under your bumper that probably means that your parking brake is on. However, it could also mean that your brake drum plates are rubbing again the drum itself. You may be able to ignore the tree branch and it’ll go away, but not the brake drums.

7. You also may hear a scraping sound from the rear when braking. If this is true, you make have some brake shoes that are severely worn. Or, your brakes may not be applying evenly. It’s also possible that sound is from brake drum distortion.

8. How about a rhythmic sound when braking at low speeds? This can either mean that the brake rotor is badly warped or the brake drums are severely “out-of-round” and need to be replaced. Either way, you should get this checked out.

9. Alright, enough with the brakes. Ever hear a knocking sound coming from underneath your hood? There are a couple very different reason for this particular noise. Your air filter could be clogged. Or it could just be a tune-up/timing issue. You could also be hearing this knock due to low gas octane ratings.

10. Finally, if you hear a loud ticking noise that varies with engine speeds that is urgent. This car noise is indicative of an exhaust leak. Exhaust leaks need to be addressed immediately or you risk carbon monoxide poisoning.

If you have trouble diagnosing your car noise, bring your vehicle in. And don’t be embarrassed to try and reenact it. Car noises are incredibly helpful to our technicians, and it will give them a great place to start looking.