9 Car Noises to Never Ignore

Your car plays an important part in your day-to-day activity. It is your transportation to the grocery store, your job, or the doctor’s office. A vehicle creates noises constantly while driving or running, and it is important to pay attention to any changing bangs or clangs that occur on your daily trips. Some noises are normal and common, while others could mean a serious issue is on the horizon. While you may pay no attention to the high-pitched beeping when you don’t buckle your seatbelt, here are 9 car noises to never ignore. 

Don't ignore any new car noises that you hear.

Squealing or Grinding brakes

Driving consists of acceleration, steering, and braking. A brake problem could be dangerous if it is not fixed in a timely manner. Normal brakes should make very little noise when you step on the pedal. If your car begins to squeal when you hit the brakes, it could mean the brake pads are getting thin. This squealing is an indicator that it may be time to change your brake pads.

If you ignore the initial squealing, you will eventually notice a heavy grinding noise when you apply the brakes. This means the pads have lost all of their material and the metal portion is cutting into the metal rotors. Driving in this manner for too long can cause substantial damage to your braking system. An impaired ability to brake is a danger to you and others on the road. It also becomes a much more expensive fix if you wait too long to address the noise. 

Humming or Whirring on Highway

If your car begins to hum or make a whirring noise while driving, you could have a wheel bearing going bad. This is something to have checked as soon as you first hear the noise. Ignoring a bad wheel bearing can leave you stranded, but it could also come apart when you are traveling fast on the highway. It is not an unbearable expense to have it fixed and can save you a lot of trouble and damage down the line. 

Squeaking or Squealing belt

When your belt starts to squeak it can be annoying. If you’ve ever started your car in the morning and felt like you have woken up the entire neighborhood, you know it is hard to miss a squealing belt noise. But even when it just begins to squeak or chirp, you should have the belt and pulleys inspected by a mechanic. The belt cracks and could break, which would make it hard or impossible to drive your vehicle. 

The belt on your car wraps around multiple pulleys. A pulley has bearings on the inside that also go bad and get worn. A bad pulley can cause the belt to slip off or break, which would leave you stranded. Preventative maintenance and replacement is the best way to avoid having to call a tow truck. Have your belt or pulley replaced before the squeak gets too bad and causes other parts such as your alternator or other pulleys to malfunction. 

Engine Knocks

Engine knocks are bad news. If you notice your engine making a knocking sound that wasn’t there before, check your oil immediately. Low oil in your engine will cause the rods and pistons to work unlubricated. This makes them wear out and could “throw” a rod, causing terrible internal engine damage. This could be a very expensive fix or require an entire engine replacement. 

Do not ignore knocks in your engine. Even if you have plenty of oil, it could be a number of different issues causing the knock. You should not wait to have it inspected, because it could cost a lot more to have it repaired if you don’t catch the problem early. 

Banging in Wheels

Your car’s wheels rotate as your drive, and make a little noise from being on the road. However, if the noise changes to a bang or clang, it is important to stop and have the vehicle inspected. If your wheel is not on tight or you have loose lugnuts, a banging sound could indicate the wheel wobbling and about to fall off. You want to avoid this happening at all costs, especially if you are traveling at a high speed. 

A banging in the wheel area can also be a brake problem or a problem with the front-end components of your car. Either way, it is much better to have it inspected and fixed BEFORE you end up stranded in a parking lot or involved in an accident. 

Hissing or Air leak

Your engine has air that flows through certain lines between areas of the motor. When one of these lines breaks or has a leak it sounds like air escaping through a small hole. If you hear a vacuum leak, do not ignore it. This sound could indicate a problem that fixes easily but causes additional damage if not taken care of appropriately.

Rumble in Engine

Your engine rumbles and groans as you drive. However, a deep, louder roar may mean the car is having a combustion or spark plug problem. These types of problems start small and could grow into a more serious issue that costs more money to repair. As soon as the engine begins to sound different, inspect the vehicle. Running rough for too long is bad on all parts of the vehicle. 

Groaning While Turning

Have you ever been taking a turn into your favorite gas station to pick up some snacks and notice an awful groan coming from your car? The steering may have also become very hard for a moment as you slowed down. This noise could indicate low power steering fluid in the pump. Fluid sometimes leaks through hoses and the pump will make noise when it is low. If this happens, have the power steering system inspected as soon as possible. You might be able to fix a leak for a couple of hundred dollars, but if the power steering pump burns up it will become a much more costly repair.

Grinding After Starting

After you turn the key or press the button to start your car, it turns over and immediately begins to idle. Turning the key after it is already started can create an awful grinding sound that can make you jump out of the seat. If your car makes this noise on its own shortly after starting, the starter may be having trouble becoming disengaged. It could foretell a starter that is about to fail and leave you with a car that won’t start. Have it inspected and replaced before this happens. If the noise happens too often and for too long, it could damage the flywheel. 

New or Additional Noises

As your car gets older, more parts will begin to rattle and make a little noise. Clips and connectors get loose with age and use. However, any brand new noises that happen when you are driving should be inspected to determine if they are a cause for concern. Door panels sometimes get creaky, struts and shocks squeak slightly, and mud on the wheels can cause some vibration and noise. If the noise happens when you accelerate, turn, or brake do not ignore it. Preventative maintenance can stop problems before they happen. You know your car best, and if a new and unordinary noise starts, you’ll notice. Don’t let a small noise turn into a big problem by ignoring them. 

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