Be A Good Listener: Why Is My Car Making That Sound?

You're probably used to hearing your car's engine purr while it's idling. You've probably tapped your fingers to the rhythmic click of your blinker. However, sometimes your car may make a noise that doesn't sound quite right. By listening closely to your automobile, you may be able to notice when something is wrong. In addition, by detecting the problem early, you can avoid a breakdown. Here are some common car problems and the sounds they make.

Troubled Transmission

A transmission is what allows your car to accelerate. In other words, it helps transfer your engine's power to the wheels. As an essential part of your car's engine, your transmission may make several different sounds that indicate that it's not up to par.

  • Whining: If your transmission is wailing on and on like an upset toddler, it could mean your transmission is low on fluids. Without enough fluids, your transmission's pump forces air through the transmission which creates a whining noise. Another sign of low transmission fluids is a when your transmission hesitates before shifting gears.   
  • Humming: A humming noise that increases in intensity as the car's engine accelerates indicates a problem with the transmission pump or pump shaft.
  • Clunking: If you hear a clunk when you are shifting gears, it may mean your car's transmission mounts, sturdy connectors made from thick steel and rubber, are weak or worn. You'll want to take care of this problem as soon as possible. If your mounts become too worn or if they crack, this could cause your transmission to disconnect from the motor. A loose transmission can ruin parts of your engine.  

Faulty Fan Belt

Is your car squealing like a pig? Perhaps it is the fan belt, also called the serpentine belt. As the fan belt weakens, the belt's rubber teeth start to lose their grip and slip. As a result of the tension loss, the belt and the pulley fail to turn at the same speed and this causes the belt to squeal. Tightening the belt may help. To adjust the tension, you'll need to open the hood and look for the tensioner bolt, which is typically a wing nut. Use a socket wrench to turn the bolt clockwise, until there is 1/4-inch of play in the belt. However, if this doesn't work or the belt is damaged, you'll have to visit a mechanic.

Bad Brakes

If you press down on your brakes and you hear a grinding noise, you may need new brake pads. When your brake pads have worn down, the disc and caliper, the two main components of your brakes, no longer have a buffer. As a result, the two metal components rub together and make a grinding sound. If you peer through the gaps between your wheel's spokes, you should be able to see your brake pads. If it looks like there is less than a 1/4-inch of pad, it is definitely time for a replacement.

If your car is crying out for help, take it to an auto repair shop to get some professional assistance.