Unwanted Vehicle Noises and What They Mean

Young man sitting in driver’s seat and having vehicles issues. He looks confused because an unusual sound is coming from his car.

Ever cruise down the road, windows down, tunes up, only to have an odd car noise totally ruin your vibe? You’re not alone. Unwanted vehicle noises can be a serious buzzkill, but more importantly, they can indicate underlying issues. Let’s break down some unwanted vehicle noises and what they could mean for your ride.

Squealing Brakes

If your brakes make a high-pitched squeal every time you press the pedal, it’s time to pay attention. Squealing is something to expect when your car’s brakes need to be replaced.

When the pads wear down, the metal beneath starts to contact the rotor, creating that unmistakable squeal. It can come from a lack of lubrication on the caliper slides or a malfunctioning brake caliper.

The smart fix is to replace the brake pads, lubricate the caliper slides, or replace the brake caliper.

Engine Knocking

A knocking engine sound is one you definitely don’t want to ignore. The culprit may be poor fuel quality, worn-out engine components, or incorrect engine timing.

If you hear this sound, start using high-quality fuel. If the noise persists, perform an engine diagnostic to identify any worn components.

Adjusting the engine timing can also help eliminate the knocking. Bottom line: don’t let your engine knock you out!

Whining Transmission

Transmission whining isn’t just annoying; it’s a sign that something’s not right under the hood. This sound often indicates low transmission fluid, worn-out gears, or a damaged transmission pump.

The first step is to change the transmission fluid. If that doesn’t solve the problem, inspect and replace any worn gears or repair/replace the transmission pump.

Rattling Underneath the Car

That rattling sound coming from underneath your car as you drive is not just loose change rolling around.

Rattling underneath your car is an unwanted vehicle noise that could mean loose exhaust components, worn-out suspension parts, or a damaged heat shield. To fix it, tighten or replace any loose exhaust components.

You should also evaluate and replace worn suspension parts, or repair/replace the heat shield. A little time spent under the car now can save you headaches later.

Sizzling Under the Hood

A sizzling sound under the hood is like a warning flare that something’s overheating or leaking. This happens because of coolant leaking onto hot engine parts, a damaged exhaust manifold, or an overheating engine.

To address this, start by fixing any coolant leaks you find. Repair the exhaust manifold and diagnose and fix any engine overheating issues. Your engine should sizzle on the track, not under the hood.

Humming or Growling

If you hear a humming or growling sound, it may be worn wheel bearings, uneven tire wear, or issues with your drivetrain components.

The solution is to replace worn wheel bearings, balance and align your tires if there’s uneven wear, and inspect the drivetrain components for damage.

Prompt attention to unusual sounds will keep your car running smoothly and safely. So, the next time your vehicle starts talking to you, you’ll know what to listen for and what steps to take.