You’re cruising down the open road, windows down, your favorite tunes blasting, when all of a sudden… squeak, clank, grind. Panicked, you turn down the music, wondering if your beloved ride is about to bite the dust. We’re here to help you identify some troublesome sounds you should listen for when driving and what they might mean for your car. Buckle up, and let’s dive in.
Squeaking or Squealing
You’re peacefully driving down the road when you hear a loud squeak or squeal that could rival a horror movie soundtrack. If the sound happens when you brake, this could mean that your brake pads are worn and need replacing. If it’s when you turn, though, it’s likely from your tires, but there are several reasons why your tires squeal when turning. You may need to see a mechanic to figure out the cause.
Another possibility is that your car’s serpentine belt might be old, loose, or misaligned. No matter which of these reasons it ends up being, this high-pitched symphony is telling you to get your car checked ASAP.
Grinding or Groaning
If you hear an unpleasant grinding or groaning sounds when driving, there’s likely a good reason for it. Grinding noises while braking could be a sign that your brake pads are completely worn, leading to metal-on-metal contact. Get to a mechanic as soon as possible to protect your precious rotors from further damage. If it’s not that, a groaning sound while turning the wheel could be your car’s way of saying, “Hey, my power steering system needs some attention.”
Clicking or Ticking
Is your car emitting a clicking or ticking noise that’s left you feeling like you’re in a suspense thriller? This one’s a tricky sound to chase down, but it could be as simple as a loose wheel cover or as serious as a problem with your car’s valve train. Either way, don’t leave yourself in suspense. Get it checked out by a professional.
Knocking or Pinging
Other sounds you don’t want to ignore when driving are knocking or pinging. In some cases, low-quality fuel can cause these noises, which might cause small explosions in the engine’s combustion chamber due to improper timing. Swapping to a higher-octane gas might be your knight in shining armor. If the noise persists, though, pay a visit to a mechanic to avoid any problems that will be too difficult to identify yourself.
Roaring or Rumbling
Finally, if your car sounds like it’s auditioning for a role in Jurassic Park, it’s time to investigate this roaring or rumbling beast. This troublesome sound you should listen for when driving could signal a problem with your car’s exhaust system, such as a rusted or leaking muffler causing all that extra racket. Don’t just curse prehistoric reptiles—take your car in to get it diagnosed and fixed.