Five Scary Car Sounds and What They Mean
When it comes to cars, the potential list of problems can seem infinite. And the sounds that come with them can often be terrifying. From squeaks to whirls, bangs to clanks, and thuds to creaks, these sounds can shake even the most confident of drivers. However, though a sound may seem scary, many times they can indicate minor repairs that won’t cost an arm and a leg. So to help, we’ve put together a list of five common scary car sounds and what they might mean.
Squealing and Screeching
From the wheels:
These sounds are usually signs of worn down brake hardware such as brake pads. When a brake pad does not release properly, it will cause excessive heat and a high pitched noise. Recently, some car manufacturers have begun to install an indication system into their vehicles that emit a squealing noise when it is time to replace brake pads.
Installing new brake pads or replacing brake rotors will ensure that your vehicle stops safely without causing further damage to your brake system, endangering yourself, or others on the road.
Under the hood:
A high pitch squeal under the hood could mean that you need to replace your drive belt (aka serpentine belt). This belt is powered by the engine’s revolutions and gives power to the alternator, power steering, AC, and other engine components. Over time, as the belt is worn down, it slips, causing a squealing sound. Many times, the sound will be louder when the car is first started.Try to repair a drive belt as soon as possible. If left unattended, the belt can break, causing a potential loss of the engine cooling system, power system, charging system, or all of them. Ultimately, this can result in overheating and cause extensive damage.
Like squealing and screeching, grinding from the wheels is going to be related to the brake hardware. If you hear this sound when you apply pressure to the brakes, it could mean a number of things. At best, it could just mean the brake pads are worn down or something is rubbing against the rotor the wrong way. Or, it could mean that the brake calipers or pistons are grinding against the rotor. Either way, this is not something to be ignored. If you wait too long, the calipers or brake hydraulics could be damaged, and that will cause imminent brake failure.
Knocking and Tapping
If you hear a knocking or tapping sound when you turn the wheel, you probably have worn CV joints. CV joints basically transfer the torque to the wheels of your car through the driveshaft. If the CV joints are worn and left not taken care of, total loss of wheel control may be at stake. While U-joints and CV joints can generally hold their own for a while before replacing them, we definitely wouldn’t recommend it.
The Sound of … Nothing?
Yes, the sound of nothing can be a rather terrifying sound to come from a car. More times than not, this is going to indicate a dead battery. However, if you have a weak battery, you may hear more of a whirring noise. If this is the case, definitely replace that battery soon.
The best way to avoid battery issues is to not be cheap when buying a battery. A decent battery should last at least 2 years and good batteries can last from three to four years. And if you’re the type of person to just continue jumping your old battery, it’s best to get the old one replaced. Otherwise, it will just be stealing precious voltage.
Rumbling and Rattling
If all of the sudden your car is much louder than it used to be and the sound is coming from underneath the vehicle, you may have a damaged exhaust system. This fix could be as difficult as attaching a new muffler or manifold system, or it could be as easy as reattaching a loose pipe clamp.
Additionally, if you hear some rattling while idling at a stop light or a stop sign that sounds like a bunch of rocks bouncing around, there’s a pretty good chance that you may need to replace your catalytic converters. Catalytic converters help reduce the pollution emitted from the vehicle, so if this sound is familiar, get that replaced as soon as you can.
Again, a single sound can indicate one hundred different problems. So it’s always best to get your vehicle checked out as soon as anything abnormal occurs. Whether it’s sounds or feelings, you want to be sure that your car is in top shape to optimize both your driving experience and your safety. And if you have been experiencing scary sounds with your vehicle, feel free to pay our certified technicians a visit at our service centers or browse our awesome new car inventory at University Dodge to start your new, problem-free adventure today!