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What’s That Strange Noise? Common Noises and What They Mean



as this ever happened to you or someone you know? You’re taking your special date out for a night on the town, as you pick her up and start driving toward your destination; you suddenly hear a clunking noise. You immediately turn up the radio and hope that she doesn’t hear it. However, the faster you drive the noisier the sound becomes. Your car begins to vibrate and your beloved finally says, “Hey honey, do you think that here is something wrong with your car?” You look at her and say, “Hmmm…I don’t know I better take it to the shop tomorrow.” She hums to her self and thinks, “He sure isn’t handy. I wonder if he can fix anything” Well, if you had known a little about noises, you might have been able to earn some real handy man brownie points and impress your date easily. In this article, we will discuss some common sounds and problems associated with each one.


Scraping Noise?

This type of noise could be caused from a worn brake pad wear rubbing on the rotors. On the other hand, a rock might also be caught in the rotor. Good idea to check both.


Chirp, Squeak or Rattle

If you notice the noise when your car first starts or when you use an accessory you may have a loose, glazed or slipping fanbelt.


Clunking Noise When Accelerating?

If so, you might have a broken engine strap or mount.


Exhaust Noises When Engine Rocks Back and Forth?

This type of noise could indicate that you have a leaking exhaust doughnut.


Knocking or Clicking Sound?

If you’re hearing the noise at speeds over 50 m.p.h, you might damage to your inner CV joint

If you’re hearing the noise at lower speeds, especially on turns, you might have damage to your wheel bearings. In contrast, if you her a similar noise but don’t hear it when you turn you might need to check your driveshaft center bearing instead of your wheel bearing.



If you experience vibrations while traveling at speeds 45 and over, you might have a driveshaft imbalance.


Rattling Noise?

If you’re hearing a rattling noise, your timing belts might be loose. If the belt strikes the belt housing, it rattles or knocks. In addition, if you hear a clunking, ratting, or buzzing noise, your exhaust systems might be poorly installed.


Backlash Snapping Sound?

If you hear this type of noise, you might have a loose timing belt.


Underhood Engine Noises

If so, your pulleys, broken brackets for the alternator, A/C compressor or power steering pump cause underhood engine noise might be misaligned.

Also see

Your Car's Mechanical Condition

Drip, Drip, Drip.  Diagnosing Your Car's Leaks -Red, Clear, Black, or Green.  What does it all mean? 

What Grade of Gasoline to Use? -Regular, Mid-Grade, or Premium.  How do you decide?

Emergency: What To Do If Your Brakes Fail -you're driving down the road and the brakes fail.  5 tips.

Finding a Good Mechanic Doesn't Have to Give You a Headache -part 3 in a series.




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