Strange Car Noises: What Do They Mean?

December 20th, 2017 by

3 people changing car battery

We’ve all been there – your car makes an abnormal sound, but you’re unsure where it’s coming from or what it could mean. Here, Cox Mazda goes over some common strange car noises that may indicate a malfunction of some kind, often involving:

  • Brakes
  • Steering
  • Engine
  • Alternator
  • Transmission

Under the Hood

Often, you will hear strange noises coming from under the hood of your car.

  • Transmission grinding: If you shift gears and hear a grinding sound, the clutch may be worn or there could be internal damage to the transmission.
  • Engine squealing: If you accelerate only to hear a squealing noise from the engine, the drive belts may be loose or slipping, or drive pulleys may be out of place.
  • Alternator squealing: If you suspect it’s the alternator that’s squealing, this may indicate issues with the alternator drive belt, internal bearings, or drive pulley.
  • Engine popping: A popping engine may signal various problems, such as a dirty air filter, faulty spark plugs, trouble with the ignition, or a clogged fuel filter, to name a few.
  • Engine clicking: If you notice the engine clicking, it could mean its low on oil or the valves need adjusting.
  • Engine ticking: An engine making a ticking noise may point to sludge in the engine stopping oil from properly circulating or issues with the engine’s valves.

From the Brakes

When your brakes begin making noise, there are several potential issues, depending on the specific sound.

  • Clunking: If you hear a clunking noise while braking, there may be missing or damaged brake hardware, the disc brake caliper may not be mounted correctly, or your steering system may be worn.
  • Squealing: If your brakes squeal when pressure is applied, it may indicate issues with brake pads or dirt on the brake rotors, drums, pads, and/or shoes.
  • Scraping: If you notice a scraping sound coming from the back of the car when you hit the brakes, it may be because the brake shoes are very worn out, the brake drum is off kilter, or the brakes aren’t being applied evenly.

Schedule Service with Cox Mazda

Whether you need advice on vehicle maintenance, your brakes might need replacing, or you simply need someone to take a look at your vehicle, turn to the service department at Cox Mazda.

Posted in Automotive Tips