Typically there are two types of drivers: those who hear a strange noise and worry that at any moment the car could explode, and those who hear a noise and figure it's no big deal and they'll take care of it later. 

While the former may be overreacting, the latter could be allowing harmful issues to remain in their car.  Knowing what some of those noises could mean will help you to react accordingly.  You can then get the help your car needs at the right time, to keep it running smoothly.

Pay Attention

When hearing a strange noise coming from your car, there are a few things you should listen for.  Where is the noise coming from?  This could be in the front, undercarriage, or back of your car.  It could come from the tires, the brakes, or other parts of the car.  Try to figure out the general area of the problem.

Next, when does the noise occur?  Is it consistent, or does it only occur when you start the car, hit the brakes, or turn corners?  Pay attention to the duration of the noise, how often it happens, and what your car is doing when it occurs.

Finally, listen for the nature of the sound.  Knowing each of these details will help you either diagnose the issue properly, or describe it accurately to a professional so they can be of the most help.

Common Problem Noises

  • Pinging or Plinking. This could simply be a sign that you are using fuel that has too low an octane rating.  Refilling with higher quality fuel may remedy the situation right away.
  • Grinding. Grinding in your engine can signal a problem with the brakes.  If your brake pads are worn, they'll need to be replaced.  Sometimes the pads can be worn to the point that metal is scraping on metal when you use your brakes.  This can be problematic and requires a replacement of the brakes themselves.  Check with your auto repair shop to know how far the issue has progressed.
  • Squealing. Squealing can be a sign that your fan belt or serpentine belt is loose or worn.  It then will not rotate in conjunction with other pulleys in the engine, causing the very loud squealing you hear.  Check to see if the fan belt needs to be tightened or replaced.
  • Clunking or Thumping. This can be a sign of bad shock absorbers or a bad suspension system.  Alternatively, this could mean a loose muffler or tailpipe if it's coming from the back of your car.  This kind of noise is generally a more serious one, requiring part replacement.  You should definitely have this issue reviewed by a professional to properly diagnose it.

If you're looking for an auto service in your area, visit Foster's Auto Service Inc.