The next time you drive somewhere, listen up. Your car is trying to tell you something. Not in words but in sounds. Different parts signal that they need maintenance, repair, or replacement by emitting squeaks, pings, pops, and more. Here’s a simple guide to the noises that tell you something's wrong with your car. If you hear them, bring your vehicle in for a checkup. Regular checkups can usually catch most car issues before they get any worse.
The most common source of screeching and squealing sounds come from your brakes. A high-pitched squealing sound from the wheels can mean that your brakes are nearing the end of their life. They may be meeting the rotor as it spins because the brake pads have worn away. Untreated, the squealing will soon be replaced with an unpleasant grinding sound. Squealing may also occur after new brake pads are installed, indicating the pads aren’t properly attached. Whatever the case, any sound from the brakes tells you that you must get to the mechanic ASAP before your brakes fail and you have a serious accident. Incidentally, squealing can also indicate a loose serpentine belt in need of replacement. Whatever the case, if you hear any squealing, get the car to the mechanic before it needs to be towed there.
We’ve most likely all heard a sustained clicking upon trying to start up our car on a cold winter morning. That’s the sign of either a battery that needs a jump or a battery that’s dead. Other clicks, ticks, and tapping can come from the engine. These sounds might mean it’s time to change the oil or that oil must be added. If the noise continues even after the oil is changed, it could signify a more serious problem with the oil pump.
When listening for noises that tell you something's wrong with your car, do you hear whining and creaking when you turn? Whining and creaking can be signs of trouble with the steering system, suspension, or wheel assembly. Check to see how the car handles. Is it harder to turn or does it feel strange otherwise? If so, bring it in for a checkup. It may just be that your steering fluid is low and needs to be changed or topped off.
When you rev up the engine—but please don’t for too long—you hear that nice, satisfying roaring sound under the hood. The kind of roaring referred to here, though, comes from under the seats and is sometimes accompanied with a whole lot of shaking. You might have a loose or broken muffler or crack in the exhaust system, and it will have to be replaced. Not just because of the roar and rumble, but because the system may be ready to drop off the car which can cause carbon monoxide to flood the cabin. Get it looked at right away!
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