What is that Noise? Automotive Sounds and How to Locate them


When you hear your vehicle making strange sounds you definitely need to investigate. They aren’t going to go away on their own, and early intervention can prevent serious damage to your vehicle. Being able to identify some of the common noises and what they are is important. First, you need to know how to locate the sounds you hear. Turn off the radio and any other distractions so you can focus on what is going on with your vehicle.

If your car is making a squeaking or grinding noise it can be difficult to tell where it is coming from while you are driving the vehicle. However, if you turn off the radio and do some troubleshooting you can get a good idea. For example does the noise get worse when you apply your brakes? If this is the case, you may be ready for a brake replacement. It could also mean you have a damaged rotor that needs to be repaired.

If your car is making a loud noise when you push on the brakes, and it is grinding more than squeaking then it indicates your brake pads are completely worn. This has allowed for metal on metal contact to occur. The problem needs to be resolved immediately so don’t continue to drive your vehicle.

Most automobiles have a thin piece of sheet metal that is mounted along the edge of the brake shoe that is designed to cause the squeaking noise. This is so that you will have an indicator for when the brakes are getting close to needing to be replaced. This isn’t a major problem but simply something that the automobile manufacturer offers as a sign so that people know when it is time to replace their brakes.

A loud squeal from your car that only occurs when you turn the steering wheel can indicate that your power steering pump is low on fluid. If you add fluid in a timely manner you can save the power steering pump. This same noise can also indicate that the belt for the power steering pump may be loose. In this situation make sure you check both the fluid level and the belt tension.

Does the vehicle make the same noise when the vehicle is idling? If so, that will narrow down the possibilities. This means it is some type of moving part in the engine. If it gets louder when you rev the engine, you likely have a belt or pulley that is worn. It is a good idea to replace it before it breaks.

If your vehicle is making a grinding noise that doesn’t get worse when you apply the brakes or you can’t hear it when the vehicle idles then it is likely in the drive line. The most common occurrence is a universal joint in the drive shaft. The best way to narrow this down is while driving your car, put it into neutral and let it free wheel. If the noise still occurs while it is moving but not in gear, this is going to eliminate the cause being in your transmission.

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