Car Care Tips

Tips to keep your car on the road.

Maintenance March 25, 2015

Common Car Noises and What They Mean

It’s always entertaining when customers come in and try to reenact the sounds their cars are making: “It’s a clunk-clunk sound.” or “It goes vrrrrrrr when I’m turning.”

Tires ‘hum’ on some roads, windshield wipers make a ‘rubbing’ sound depending on the weather and mirrors create a ‘whistling’ sound when they pick up the wind in certain speeds. However, there are some car noises you shouldn’t ignore. If a constant sound becomes a part of your everyday driving experience, it’s time to get it checked out!

Here are some car noises that should always be taken seriously:

  • ‘Hissing’ or ‘Sizzling’ under the hood– If you hear a sound like this after the engine is shut off, then chances are something is leaking. A vacuum line could be leaking, the engine could be overheating, coolant or oil could be landing on the exhaust manifold
  • ‘Humming’ under the car– The differential may need to be lubricated, the transmission could be failing or the wheel bearing could be shot
  • ‘Flapping’ in the engine compartment– Your timing belt is probably disintegrating or something is interfering with the fan
  • ‘Tapping’ or ‘Clicking’ in the engine compartment– First step, check the oil level! If it’s okay then the problem could be the loss of oil pressure or a blockage
  • ‘Roaring’ that increases with acceleration– The exhaust system could be damaged or the transmission may be an issue
  • ‘Clunking’ when applying the brakes– This could be the brake caliper or another part in the brake area that is damaged, missing or incorrectly mounted
  • ‘Squealing’ wheels when applying the brakes– This could be as simple as having dirt on the brake rotors, to something more urgent like worn pads that need replacing
  • ‘Scraping’ or ‘Grinding’ when applying brakes– The sound is usually bare metal rubbing against bare metal. This is a serious sound that shouldn’t be ignored. It usually means the brake pads are shot and are now causing damage to the rotors

Don’t ignore any sound your car is consistently making for an extended period of time. Ignoring the sound won’t make it go away and usually, neglecting the issue adds additional expenses to repairs. The noise could reflect a safety issue that requires immediate attention. So the next time your car is ‘talking’ to you, be sure to schedule an appointment with Virginia Tire and Auto to have it checked out!

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