Have you ever been driving along and you suddenly hear a clunk coming from somewhere underneath the car? Or a persistent rattling coming from under the bonnet? If so, the temptation could be to ignore it – or turn the radio up if it’s unbearable – and not worry about it again until the car packs in completely.
“Oh, it was making that funny noise the other week…”
Here are some common car noises that could lead to a big repair bill if you don’t act on them early enough!
If you hear a clunking sound when braking, it’s usually a sign that a brake caliper is damaged, missing or not mounted properly.
If it’s clunking when you go over a bump, it’ll most likely be a suspension problem.
A flapping sound under the bonnet is normally a sign that something is interfering with the fan belt – or it’s disintegrating.
A grinding noise when changing gear means that you either have an issue with your clutch – either that it’s worn or needs adjusting – or that your gearbox is damaged and needs replacing.
Hissing or sizzling
A hissing or sizzling sound when the engine is first turned off usually indicates that there is some coolant leaking onto the hot engine, a vacuum line could be leaking or it could be that the engine is overheating, which could be a sign the head gasket is shot.
Humming or whirring
If you hear a low-pitch humming or whirring noise that changes when you accelerate, it could be that the differential needs lubricating, the universal joints are worn, a wheel bearing has gone or there’s a problem with the transmission.
Knocking from under the engine could be as a result of using low-grade fuel – so if you’re using cheap petrol or diesel, it could be time to upgrade. You should always use the fuel and oil that’s recommended in your manufacturer’s handbook.
If you hear a loud bang coming from the back of your car then it’s a backfire – this means either the air-fuel mixture isn’t right or there’s a problem with the catalytic converter.
Noise when turning
If you hear any noise when turning the wheel you’ll most likely need your steering linkage lubricating or replacing.
A popping sound coming from the engine compartment is usually coupled with engine hesitation and could be down to any one of a number of problems, including: an ignition problem, worn or dirty spark plugs or spark plug wires, a clogged fuel filter or a problem with the catalytic converter.
Either way, it needs taking to a garage to be checked out.
If you hear rattling from underneath your car this could be a loose exhaust system or loose brake pads.
If you’re family estate is sounding like a hot-hatch when you accelerate then it’s most likely down to a damaged exhaust. Alternatively, your clutch could be slipping.
If you hear a scraping sound as you brake then your brake pads will need replacing – the scraping sound you’re hearing is the metal of the worn pad rubbing against the metal wheel and this will need sorting out as soon as possible.
A screeching noise when you start up the engine means your fan belt is probably slipping and needs replacing sooner rather than later. It could also mean the drive pulley for, say, the water pump has come loose.
A tapping noise coming from the engine is an indication you’re running low on engine oil, so get it topped up as soon as. If the oil levels are ok you could be losing oil pressure or have a blockage somewhere in the system.
If the oil system is all fine, you may need the valves on the valve train adjusting or it could be the lifters have collapsed.
Whining is often a sign there is excessive wear in the transmission or differential.
Please note: These are just suggestions for what the noise coming from your car might be; always be sure to get a diagnosis from a trusted garage or car mechanic!