8 Car and Engine Noises You Shouldn’t Ignore

Every motorist is familiar with that dreadful feeling that comes when you hear an unusual sound come from your vehicle. We instantly think of the worst case scenario, but it is always worth taking a few minutes to assess whether you’re dealing with a severe problem that needs to be addressed immediately, or whether it is merely a minor issue. 

Keeping your car in tip top condition is critical, however it can come with a hefty price tag. In an effort to help you troubleshoot the problem, today we’ll share some of our knowledge in diagnosing the most common car noises. 

1. Whistling

A whistling noise in your car is not necessarily a cause for alarm, but it is always worth getting it checked out. If you are aware of a constant whistling noise while you are driving, the culprit may be your car’s weather stripping. The purpose of this rubber material around the edges of the car doors and windows is to create a seal to prevent water, wind and other debris from entering the car. With time, this seal can slacken, and the rushing air can create a whistling sound while on the move. 

Another source of whistling could be your roof racks. While they are an incredibly useful addition to your car, they can be notoriously tricky to position correctly. It will take some trial and error to get the perfect fit and to stop that irritating whistling noise for good. 

A whistling sound can also indicate a more serious problem. If the noise is coming from under the hood, or if you can hear it even when the car is stationary and turned off, it will need resolving promptly. Whistling coming from under the hood of the car could potentially indicate a leak in one of the hoses integral to your engine’s cooling system. More worryingly, if you can hear whistling coming from under the hood when the car is turned off, this could indicate that the car’s radiator pressure cap may be damaged, which would require immediate attention. 

2. Whirring or Whining

Whirring or whining noises in your car can indicate a number of potential problems, and it can vary as the engine runs fast or slow. One obvious culprit can be the car’s belts. These circular straps are designed to be constantly rotating around a pulley at high speed, and naturally, over time, this heavy usage can wear the belts down as they stretch or crack. Even though this is not a catastrophic problem in itself, you should never ignore it, since replacing worn-out belts is not an expensive procedure, and it can pre-empt potentially more serious problems in the future. 

A whirring or whining noise in your car can also indicate a number of other issues such as a failing water pump, a deteriorating power steering pump and low power steering fluid, or even problems with the air-conditioning system or the alternator. Therefore, you should never ignore these noises, but always err on the side of caution and have your car serviced. 

3. Ticking

Some ticking noises in your car are completely normal, however, if your engine is producing a constant ticking or clicking sound, your first step should be to check the oil levels. Pistons in the engine rely on oil for lubrication in order to run smoothly, and clicking noises from your engine can indicate that low oil pressure is causing your pistons to run dry, and consequently make strange noises. 

Ticking or clicking sounds can also be an indication of worn valve train components, such as the lifters, or damaged spark plugs, or even misadjusted valves. Even if your diagnosis is correct, you may still want to take your car to a mechanic to give it a check and put your mind at rest. 

4. Idling

If you notice that your car’s rhythm is a little off from its normal hum while idling, spark plugs are a common cause. These are used to ignite fuel in your tank, and if they burn out, crack or break, you will often notice that the car is running less smoothly. 

On the other hand, if you notice that your car is much louder than usual while idling, it may have a problem with its cylinder compression. Loud sounds (including a knocking sound) coming from your car while idling can represent excessively high pressure in the cylinder, which will lead to serious engine damage if not taken care of. 

5. Noisy Turning

If your car makes strange noises only when you are turning, there could be several possible causes, some more serious than others. On the less serious side of the spectrum, it could be merely an issue with your car’s wheels or tires, and worn out or deflated tires are easily fixed, or replaced. However, a more serious cause for noisy turning can be worn wheel bearings or incorrect wheel balance, which will need immediate attention. Always check for obvious damage to tires and wheels before you take your vehicle to a mechanic.

6. Loud Brakes

This one is pretty straight forward – if you can hear any kind of unusual or abnormal sounds when applying the brakes, you should immediately take it to a trusted mechanic. If there is one component of your car that you absolutely do not want to fail, it is the brakes!

7. Clunks and Clanks

If you hear loud clunks or similar sounds when going over speedbumps or rough terrain, there may be an issue with your vehicle’s suspension. While this kind of noise can be serious and should be dealt with quickly, first, take a good look underneath your car to see if perhaps a loose tailpipe, or detached muffler might be the cause of the problem. 

8. Rumbling

Loud rumbling from your engine (think NASCAR) when you accelerate usually means there is a hole in your muffler. While this isn’t an issue that will directly affect the vehicle’s performance, it should still be fixed promptly, since the hole could allow dangerous fumes from the engine to leak into the car’s interior. 

Did We Miss Anything? 

At Mach1 Motorsports, we service all models and makes of vehicles from old to new. We can take care of all your off-road needs by helping you with our specialized experience with aftermarket parts, auto repairs, off-road vehicle builds, 4×4’s, diesel vehicle builds and specialized repairs.

We earn your trust and deliver the best service in the industry. Our entire team is committed to meeting any needs you may have and consider our customers’ needs are of the utmost importance. Because of this, much of our business is from repeat customers and referrals. Contact us today and let us take care of your ride as if it was our own.

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