What Was THAT? Weird Car Noises And What They Mean

As much as we love our cars, they can be a little confusing at times! One day you might be driving along, with everything seeming to be in order, and suddenly the engine or chassis starts making some weird noise that you’ve never heard before. Usually, this isn’t just the car doing its job, it’s a cry for help! Here, I’ve listed some of the most common engine noises and what they could mean.

Rhythmic Clicking

If you start to hear a distinct, audible tapping or clicking noise coming from the front end of your car, then it’s obviously going to cause you a bit of alarm. If you still haven’t figured out what’s going on, then try playing with your speed the next time you’re driving your car. If the clicking get more intense the faster you get, then it may be what’s called a “tappet”, also known as the upper valve train.

Photo via Wikimedia
Photo via Wikimedia

A lot of the time, this simply means that you’re running on low oil pressure. Check your gauge, and if this seems to be in order, take the dipstick out to make sure you’ve got enough oil in the tank. If this isn’t the issue, then a number of important parts in the engine could be worn.

Squealing When You Speed Up

Of all the odd sounds that a car can make, this is probably the most unmistakable and unpleasant! If you hear a piercing squeal whenever you step on the accelerator a little, then this is the fan belt telling you that it’s seen better days. Over time, the fan belt of a car can loosen up, causing the rubber teeth underneath it to drag when the engine is in motion, and in turn that horrible sound you keep hearing.

Photo by Jan3939
Photo by Jan3939

When a fan belt has come loose, it will not be able to move at the right tempo for the wheels which control it, causing more and more damage every time you need to drive somewhere. Sometimes, there’s a relatively simple procedure for tightening the belt up. To be safe though, it’s generally better to take it to a professional auto repair shop.

Deep, Rolling, Knocking Sounds

This is one of the more ominous and troubling sounds that a car can make, and for good reason! Those deep knocking sounds which are groaning damply from under your hood are what mechanics call “rod knocking”, and often mean that a single part deep in the engine has worn out. If your rod bearings have been shaken little loose, or worn out completely, then it won’t be long until the bearings fail completely.

Photo via Wikimedia
Photo via Wikimedia

It may not be the most convenient time to start taking the bus everywhere, but if you’re getting a “rod knocking” sound, then you should stop using your car immediately. The next thing on your to-do list should be getting the car to a shop where it can be professionally diagnosed and repaired.

If your car’s been making some disconcerting noises lately, I hope I’ve shed some light on the subject!




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Say one thing about Noman, say he loves cars. Say two things about Noman, say that he likes to speak in the 3rd person.

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