Strange Noises Your Car Makes and the Reasons Behind Them
The purr of a well-tuned automobile engine is a wonderful sound. Of course, many of us take it for granted as we turn our ignition keys and head off to work each morning. But in today’s cars, which have so many parts that require regular tuning, lubrication and replacement, a strange noise may be your vehicle telling you that something is wrong.
When you pay attention to abnormal noises and know what to do about them, you may be able to help keep your car in optimal operating condition and prolong its overall road life. Here are a few common noises and their possible causes:
Squeaking Under the Hood
The sound of a loud squeak or squeal coming from under the hood of your car is often due to slippage of a worn or damaged accessory belt, according to Angie’s List. If this is the case, the squeaking may be caused by an aging belt, such as the serpentine belt, becoming loose and losing traction. Sometimes you can even see that the sides of old belts have cracks or have become shiny or “glazed,” according to The Humble Mechanic.
Squealing belts may need to be replaced, so if this noise is coming from under the hood of your car, you may need to visit a mechanic.
Hissing Under the Hood
If your car produces a hissing noise when it’s on — especially when it’s idling — you may be facing a vacuum leak, meaning a vacuum line may be damaged, according to car and motorcycle enthusiast Matt Bochnak. This problem may also cause your check engine light to go on, and sometimes the vehicle may idle faster than normal. Or, says Bochnak, you may experience the idle dropping and the car running a little “rough.”
Hearing a hissing noise from under your car’s hood may be an indication that it’s time to take it to a mechanic. The solution may be as simple as having lines reattached, or you may need new ones.
A squeal coming from any of your wheels can be a brake pad issue, Cars.com says. Remember: brake pads wear down through usage, and many of today’s brake pads have sensors to alert you when they are wearing down. Even if your car doesn’t have those sensors, if you hear that screeching noise, it may be a high-pitched reminder that it’s time to get your brake pads inspected, and likely replaced, by a professional.
If you don’t heed this noise and your brake pads are worn out, Pep Boys notes that the rotors can be damaged — which may mean an expensive repair bill. Read on to find out what happens when a squeal turns into a grind.
Worn brake pads, if not fixed, will eventually wear away completely, and the sound of metal on metal will result in a horrible grinding noise. This also means that along with your brake pads, your brake rotors may need repair or replacement, says Pep Boys.
Hopefully, you’ll never hear this sound coming from your wheels. But if you do, it’s time to make sure your brakes are inspected by a professional immediately.
So, the next time you’re out enjoying a drive, turn down the music and listen to your car instead. It might be trying to tell you something that will keep you safer and help save you money down the road.
Originally published on January 8, 2014.