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What Different Car Noises Mean

Apr 17, 2021 Excavator blog

Everyone has run into the problem of hearing mysterious noises coming from their vehicle. From thumps and grinding to squeals and scrubbing, there are a plethora of sounds that can mean trouble is on the horizon and a car repair is in the future. While we may pamper our prized four-wheel possessions, figuring out what it’s trying to tell us can be a challenge. Here are nine common car noises what they mean.

  1. Noisy Mufflers

For racing enthusiasts, a loud muffler is part of the makeup of a racing machine as it makes its way around the track. Driving through your neighborhood with what sounds like a souped-up engine gone bad due to a faulty muffler, though, is probably not appreciated by your neighbors. The noise may be emanating from a hole in the muffler, which can allow unhealthy fumes to enter the car.

  • Squealing Meanies

If a piercing sound like fingernails on a chalkboard occurs when you hit the brake pedal, it’s the brake pad indicator letting you know it is time to schedule an appointment to have the brake pads replaced.

  • Rur Rur Rur

When you hear the repetitive “rur” noise that goes on for a while when attempting to start your car, this means the battery is almost on its last leg. It’s losing its get-up-and-go factor. Low fluid levels could be causing the problem, or the car battery could simply be past its warranty date and too old to do the job any longer.

  • Squealing Hood

It’s not the hood that’s squealing but what’s under it that is in need of help. When a shrill squeal is present, this is a major situation as it means the serpentine belt is either loose and slipping or it is worn out. Either way, this is a fix that needs to happen immediately because once it breaks, your vehicle will overheat.

  • Brake Pedal to the Metal

When you apply the brake, sometimes it emits a heavy metal sound that could compete with a few rock bands for their innovative grating and grinding sounds. This is a sign that the calipers and rotor have come together because the brake pads are worn through. This is a hazardous situation as the brakes will not function the way they should, which puts you and your passengers in danger.

  • Failing Hoses

Take a look under the hood of your vehicle and you’ll see a network of hoses. Each hose has a specific job to keep the car running smoothly, comfortably, and safely. When hoses age or when exposed to extreme temperatures for prolonged periods, they can crack. This can lead to a persistent hissing sound like escaping steam.

  • Flapping in the Breeze

A flap, flap, flap sound can mean a belt is damaged or frayed and it’s slowly deteriorating, which ultimately leads to a broken and disengaged belt. It may also mean a foreign object is interfering with the functioning of the fan. If the sound is coming from the air conditioner, it could mean something is out of alignment such as the ventilation flap.

  • Four on the Floor

If a grinding sound occurs when shifting a manual transmission, this could mean the clutch is out of alignment and needs adjusting or the clutch may need to be replaced.

  • Tick or Click

Both ticking or clicking sounds coming from the engine area can be an indicator that the vehicle’s oil level is low. Check the dipstick to verify the level. If a lack of oil isn’t the problem, it could be due to a drop in the system’s oil pressure, a blockage, or the valve train.

Whenever you hear noises in your car, it’s best to have a professional service technician check it out as soon as possible so you aren’t left high and dry and waiting for a tow truck.