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What's That Noise?

By: Tracy Wilkinson - Updated: 17 Jun 2013 | comments*Discuss
Car Noise Funny Noise When Driving

There's nothing worse than driving along and hearing a funny noise coming from your car. Of course the easiest thing to do is to ignore the sound and turn the radio up. However, this is not going to help in the long run, and there's every chance that if you can figure out why your car is making that noise then you can save yourself a more expensive problem a few weeks later. You can also reduce your chances of breaking down - and worst case scenario - the noise could be an indication of a serious problem that could be dangerous if not put right.

Although most sounds indicate something that will need to be checked out by a mechanic, we've put together a quick guide to identify the most common sounds you are likely to hear along with an idea of what the problem might and what course of action you should take.

Backfiring (Sounds Like a Gunshot)

Most likely problem: Usually down to incorrect ignition timing, a faulty ignition or leaky valves.

Action: Get your ignition and valves checked out by a professional.

Engine Clattering

Most likely problem: You may have run out, or be about to run out of engine oil. This can also be down to valves - if they are worn or badly adjusted.

Action: Put oil in your car. If this doesn't stop the clattering, get a professional opinion.

Hissing Coming From The Engine

Most likely problem: Leak from somewhere - usually a hose.

Action: Refer to a mechanic.

Whining From Engine

Most likely problem: Camshaft drive belt may be incorrectly tensioned.

Action: See a mechanic immediately.

Knocking Sound From Engine Which Gets Faster as You Drive

Most likely problem: Can be down to a worn camshaft or cam followers.

Action: See a mechanic as soon as possible.

Car Roars When I'm Speeding up

Most likely problem: This would indicate that the exhaust on the car has 'blown'.

Action: Get the exhaust checked out by a professional as soon as possible.

Car Screeches When Speeding up

Most likely problem: Fan belt may be slipping.

Action: Check the belt is fitted correctly. Replace if needed.

Screeching When Turning/Steering

Most likely problem: This can be a result of the power steering belt slipping.

Action: Check and adjust belt if necessary.

Squealing When Braking - (The Car, Not You)

Most likely problem: Usually worn brake components such as brake pads/discs that need replacing.

Action: See a mechanic. These can be easy and relatively inexpensive to fix.

Engine Moans When Steering

Most likely problem: This is a common sound that occurs when power steering fluid is too low.

Action: Top up power steering fluid.

Wheel Clicking

Most likely problem: Can be a loose hubcap, a stone or foreign body stuck in the hubcap or tyre tread.

Action: Tighten hubcap, remove object.

Car clinics have been set up to allow drivers to be able to diagnose the fault by listening to a choice of audio files that go alongside a brief description. If it matches the sound your car is making, you can read on to find out what the probable fault is, other symptoms to look out for, tips for performing a temporary fix for the problem, a description of the permanent cure and of course, how to avoid the problem reoccurring in the future.

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