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Car Noises You Should Not Ignore

When your car works, everything works. If your car is trying to tell you that something is out of tune, listen. Visit to find a local automotive shop to service your car’s repair needs.

By: Sylvia Slezak | Dec 2019

Calling for a tow because car broke down Calling for a tow because car broke down photo by csp_ruigsantos

Cars are everywhere and they take us everywhere we need to go. They take us to work, to the doctor when we’re sick, but what happens when there’s something wrong with our cars? If your car is making certain thumping, banging, clicking and squealing sounds, something is probably very wrong. Ignoring the symptom won’t make the problem magically go away. Delay can provide the time for a problem to worsen, and that usually translates into a bigger and more expensive repair.

Here are a few commonly heard car noises that can spell trouble and their possible causes:

Engine revving - When you start your car and it makes a revving sound and is struggling to turn on, your battery might be close to the end. While it isn’t a safety issue, a dead battery can prevent you from traveling to work or somewhere important. Get your battery tested and replaced as soon as possible.

Clunking when braking - An indicator that a brake caliper or other hardware is damaged, missing or improperly mounted.

Flapping - Either something is interfering with the fan or a belt is disintegrating.

Grinding, crunching metal - If there is a loud grinding-like metal sound coming from your brakes, most likely the car’s brake pads are worn through. You will need to get your brakes replaced. If you don’t, the brakes aren’t going to work properly and it will be dangerous to drive. Schedule a brake repair services with a mechanic right away.

Grinding manual transmission when shifting - Probably a clutch issue requiring an adjustment or a replacement. It could also indicate a deeper problem within the transmission.

Groaning when you steer - The steering wheel itself doesn’t feel normal and whenever you steer, there is a loud noise. This is likely a power steering malfunction, which means you could lose control over your steering soon. Losing control of the steering is a very big safety issue, so get it checked out right away. Until then, try not to make any sudden turns with the car.

Hissing or sizzling under the hood - Sounds like something is leaking and is only heard when the engine is first shut off. A vacuum line could be leaking; the engine could be overheating; coolant or oil could be leaking onto a heated engine part, such as the exhaust manifold.

Loud bang - The sound is similar to a cherry bomb going off in your tailpipe. That is a backfire, possibly caused by the air-fuel mixture being too rich. It could also indicate that the catalytic converter isn’t functioning properly.

Roaring that increases with acceleration - First check the exhaust system to see if it is damaged. Transmission issues could be another cause. With a manual transmission, the clutch could be slipping. In an automatic, perhaps it’s not advancing to the next gear.

Rumbling under the driver’s seat - It is not a good thing if the driver’s seat is suddenly vibrating. That could mean that there is something wrong with the exhaust system, and that carbon monoxide is leaking into the car’s cabin. Carbon monoxide is poisonous and you need to get this sound checked out immediately.

Squealing or chirping on acceleration - Usually indicates a loose and slipping belt or belts. It could also mean the drive pulley for an accessory such as the water pump has become misaligned.

Tapping or clicking in engine compartment - Check the oil level. More than likely the engine is low on oil. If the oil level is where it should be, then the problem could be a loss of oil pressure somewhere in the system. It could also indicate some blockage due to crud in the system. If it’s not an oil issue, then it’s likely related to the valve train. The valves may need adjusting or perhaps the lifters are collapsed.

Squealing under the hood - Could indicate that the serpentine belt is about to snap, which is a major cause for concern, because it powers major systems that include power steering, alternator, and air conditioning. If you don’t get it replaced quickly, you’ll be left with a useless ton of scrap metal without a serpentine belt.

Whining - Often indicates excessive differential or transmission wear.

When your car works, everything works. If your car is trying to tell you that something is out of tune, listen. Visit to find a local automotive shop to service your car’s repair needs.

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