What to Do About Mysterious Car Sounds

What to Do About Mysterious Car Sounds

Our cars may be assembly line produced, but that doesn’t mean they don’t develop their own personalities, so to speak. Get into anyone else's car for a ride, and you will likely immediately notice a whole host of different noises as you travel along. 

For the most part, these differences are entirely normal and don’t indicate an issue with either vehicle. But hearing an abnormal noise in our own vehicle might just be a clue that there is an underlying issue. Sounds are often the first feedback point from a car that might require repair, even without a check engine light tripping.


What to Do About Mysterious Car Sounds

Noticing a strange sound for the first time can be distressing. But try to take note of the type of sound and how you were driving. 

One-off sounds likely won’t be a problem, but you should have it checked by a mechanic if it happens repeatedly. Trying to describe an abstract symptom can be difficult. Luckily, you can collect a few bits of information to make the repair process go smoother.

1. Record the Sound

A lot of sounds are just too difficult or abstract to correctly describe or imitate. Is there a difference between a thwap and thud or screech and squeal? Luckily we don’t have to always rely on awkward mimicking while at the mechanic. 

If you can ready a smartphone, or have a passenger do so, and make a recording of the noise you are hearing. Or, if you have a dashcam that does audio recording, make a note of the time to review that later. It can also be helpful to dictate the questions in the section below onto the recording. 

Take your recording to the mechanic for them to review. Having it recorded can give them a better idea of your troubles without them having to try and replicate it themselves.

2. Note Down Driving Conditions

While getting a recording can be incredibly useful to help convey the type of sound, perhaps even more important for the mechanic to accurately diagnose the cause is what the driving conditions were when it occurred. When you hear a sound take a mental note of as many of the following as you can and write it down for your mechanic.

  • Is your car moving when it happens, or is it at startup or idle? 
  • Does the noise occur at a certain speed, on acceleration, or deceleration?
  • Is the noise occurring when you turn?
  • Is it accompanied by any physical shaking or other tactile feedback?
  • Does it get worse under certain weather conditions like extreme cold, heat, or moisture?

3. Common Strange Car Sounds You Might Hear

You’ve got your recording and notes in hand, but you can’t get to the mechanic for a few more days, or maybe even a week, and you may be asking whether it is safe for you or the vehicle to keep driving. Some mechanical problems won’t cause significant damage within that time frame, but others might put you or other drivers at risk. 

So let’s go over some of the common strange sounds you might hear and their potential level of concern.

  • Humming on Acceleration: A low-pitched hum that increases as you accelerate and then levels off at speed (your RPM drops but hum stays) indicates an issue with your wheel bearing. Bad wheel bearings can be dangerous as they lower responsiveness and, if ignored, can cause your wheel to come free.
  • High Pitched Squeal on Start: If you start your car (or air-conditioning) and hear a loud squeal, you have a belt that is worn or needs to be re-tensioned. For short trips and cooler weather, as long as the car starts driving with a bad belt isn’t necessarily a safety hazard. But it should be addressed quickly, before it causes a more significant problem.
  • Squealing While Turning: A high-pitched squeal while turning may indicate low power steering fluid or a problem with the pump. Both are big issues that can make driving dangerous and difficult. 
  • Hissing while Driving: A hissing sound is indicative that a hose is not attached correctly. If it happens to be the radiator, driving any further can cause significant damage to your engine in a very short amount of time, so pull over and get your car checked promptly.
  • Grinding when Braking: If you notice a grinding or scraping while braking, you might have an issue with your brakes. A noise the first time you brake when driving, especially after rain, can be expected, but if it happens every time you need to stop, get to the mechanic. Your brake pads, fluid, or shoes are at fault and put you at risk of not being able to stop.

There are too many potential mysterious noises to go over here. No matter if you have been driving normally for years without issue. If you notice something out of the ordinary, it is always best to at least call a mechanic and get their opinion.

Autobody Services and Collision Repair

Even a minor collision that at first looks like it only caused a few superficial scratches can have knocked something out of skew elsewhere in your vehicle. Make sure to take your car to a repair specialist to get you back on the road in safety and style.

First Aid Collision of Asheville specializes in auto-body repairs from collisions or weather. Take the time to address ‘smaller’ repairs and the out-of-the-ordinary noises now to save time, money, and stress later on.

From a minor fender bender to close to being totaled, our experienced, professional, and transparent technicians will get you back on the road as seamlessly as possible. Give us a call at (828) 684-4484, or send us a message online to set up an appointment with one of our seasoned insurance estimators.

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