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Strange Noise From My Car - What the problem is and what you can do about it

Updated on January 29, 2017

A strange noise from a car can be a signal of trouble to come. Sorry to say that. It may go away, but in most cases, it is a signal of the car telling you something has gone wrong. It is worth the effort to drive to a car workshop to have it checked out. Some problems can wait; others may worsen if you procrastinate. Strange noise from a car can mean a few things, depending on the sound produced.


You will normally hear the following sound from the engine:

1. High pitch squealing sound

· Squealing sound comes from a belt in the car engine.

· If you hear it when you are turning the steering wheel at low speed, accompanied by a sharp, jerky motion of the steering wheel, it can be an indication that the power-steering is loose or worn. The belt needs to be tightened or replaced.

· If the squealing sound is heard continuously or for a few minutes after starting the engine, other belts such as the alternator, air conditioner compressor or pump could be loose. Replacement of adjustment of these belts is needed.


2. Whistling or Hissing sound

· Whistling sound comes from a hose or pipe.

· Normally you will hear this sound when the engine is running, not heard when the car is stopped.

· It could be due to a broken or missing vacuum hose.

· This problem can cause higher fuel consumption, and cause your engine to shake or idle poorly.

· However, it is normal if you hear the hissing sound when you turn your steering wheel to the right or left as far as it will go.

3. Tapping, Clicking, Clatter-clatter sound

· If your engine has not be started for a while, a light tapping or clicking sound that is heard for a few minutes is usually not a problem.

· The sound is caused by valve lifters that need to refill with engine oil upon starting.

· However, if the problem persists, an oil or filter change may be necessary.


4. Pinging or Rattling sound

· This noise is usually sound like marbles rattling in a can.

· It is usually heard when you are accelerating.

· It is caused by abnormal combustion called “detonation” or “spark knock”.

· See a mechanic as soon as you can, if you prolong this problem, the key engine parts can be overheated and lead to serious mechanical damage.

5. Roaring sound

· When you accelerate, this sound comes from the hole in the muffler or exhaust pipe.

· The hole allows poisonous carbon monoxide gas to escape, in the worst case, into the passenger compartment.

· Have the system repaired immediately.


Brakes are the critical part of a car. Well, without it, you may have problem stopping the car ! So if you hear any sound from it, have a mechanic check the brake system at once.

1. Tweeting or chirping sound

· This sound is often heard during light or moderate braking, but diminished during heavy braking.

· The brake pads in the clipper assembly could be loose.

· It is usually not a major problem, but have it checked to be certain.

2. Squealing or Squeaking sound

· This noise could indicate greasy or worn brake linings.

· It could also come from a brake-wear sensor.

· It could also be normal, for some disc brakes on braking.

3. Grinding or Scraping noise

· The noise sounds like metal-on-metal grinding sound when braking.

· It is a signal of worn brake linings and replacement is needed.

· Have the mechanic check the system at once.


Often than not, we think the sound from the tires are from the normal road noise. With the improved tire technology, the tires do become quieter. In fact, we are likely to detect problem from turning the steering wheel than from a change in noise from the tire. Nevertheless, there are two noises to listen for :

1. Thumping noise

· When the thumping noise increases and decreases as you changes the speed of your car, it is signalling a possible flat spots on tires or broken belts inside them.

· It isn’t usually critical but have your tires checked by the mechanic to be safe.

2. Humming noise

· Humming noise often indicates irregular wear.

· Your car needs an alignment or rotation.


The text and all images on this page, unless otherwise indicated, are owned by Ingenira who hereby asserts her copyright on the material. Permission must be granted by the author in writing prior to copy or republish this article in print or online. However, please feel free to copy the first paragraph with a link back to this page. Thank you.

© Ingenira 2011


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