One of the earliest indications that something might be wrong with your car is an unusual noise. It’s important to listen carefully to your vehicle, because early detection of problems can help you address them before they become severe or dangerous.
What do you need to be concerned about, and what can you afford to ignore?
Piston Noises (Tick Tick Tick)
The loudest sound under your hood is the pistons in your engine moving up and down in their cylinders. Make note of how they sound and listen for changes. A high-pitched buzz or a fast tapping sound might indicate your engine oil is low and should be checked immediately. Regular oil changes and maintaining proper oil levels keeps your engine from overheating, and long-term failure to do so can result in total engine loss. If your oil is fine and piston noises persist, have a mechanic check your pistons and valves for other problems.
Belts and Pulley Noises (Squeak and Squeal)
Belts connect multiple systems of your car to its engine, and their problematic noises can be the easiest to diagnose. Be on the lookout for a repetitive screeching. This is usually a sign that a belt is wearing out and needs to be replaced, which is a fairly cheap and easy procedure. If the screeching persists, it might indicate that the engine part the belt connects to is freezing up; a lower-pitched screech could be a failing water pump. Check under your car for coolant and keep an eye on the temperature gauge, as overheating is another sign of a water pump needing attention. Since the pump is responsible for keeping your engine cool, it is important to keep it in good running order to avoid expensive engine repairs.
Hose Noises (Boiling and Bubbling)
You will probably experience other indicators of a faculty hose before you hear any noise. However, you might notice a sound exactly like boiling water on the stove. This is the coolant in your radiator boiling. This mean there is a hose failure, or that a bad gasket has compromised the cooling system. When a hose fails, it makes a soft hissing noise like a balloon with a small hole. If you hear that noise, check under your car for spilt fluids and get your hoses checked. Multiple systems in your car depend on hoses; every one of them is essential. Replacing hoses and gaskets is much cheaper and easier than replacing the components that rely on them.
Suspension Noises (Knock, Knock)
When you go over bumps in the road, listen for a knocking sound. There might be a problem in your suspension system. You ball joints could be corroded and need replacing, and not doing so can lead to accidents on the road, as well as more expensive repairs. It could also mean that your struts need to be replaced, especially in an older car. Struts fail gradually – and rarely in a spectacular manner like a ball joint – and when they’re in poor condition, they put a fair amount of wear on the vehicle if they go uncorrected. Any problem in the suspension system will also make tires wear out faster, requiring more frequent replacements and further raising the odds of an accident.
Brake Noise (Grinding and hard growl)
If you hear a squeal when you use your brakes it’s definitely past time to have them checked. If there’s a grinding noise, it’s even more serious. This can mean the brake pads are worn out completely and damage is being done to the brake rotor. Obviously, brakes are a key feature in your car. The longer you wait to service them, the more expensive it will be… not to mention the greater the risk of brake failure. Recently replaced brakes sometimes make a squeal, but the sound should go away within a few days.
Get Unusual Noises Checked
You know your car best, and you should be able to tell if it’s making a sound it doesn’t usually make. This is always a sign of a potentially harmful abnormality. Any persistent new noise should be investigated before it turns into a bigger problem. Periodically turn off the radio, roll down the windows and listen to what your car is trying to tell you. By keeping a close ear, you’ll keep yourself safe and maintain the reliability of your car for years to come.
Help Yourself by Helping Your Car
If you’ve got a noise you can’t figure out, then bring it over to Dillon’s Automotive. You deserve a quiet drive. Contact us today to get the problem diagnosed (and repaired!) quickly and accurately.