Common Car Noises and What They Mean

If you have ever driven a car then you know how fickle vehicles can be. With hundreds of parts and routine wear and tear, cars are bound to have issues. Not only small issues but large repairs that need to be made. Over time the car will start to make noises when something is wrong. It’s important to always be on the lookout for car noises that are not normal because chances are it means something else is wrong.

Car noises are just another part of car ownership. As you drive the car on different roads, surfaces, and climates, problems will arise over time. For a myriad of reasons, these different factors will have different impacts on your car. As your car starts to make noises however, the type of noise will actually be a big help in diagnosing and ultimately fixing your car. Because without the sound, you may never know there was a problem to begin with.

Since so many of these sounds are the same from car to car, we can actually listen to car noises and have a good idea of what the problem is. In fact, it is possible to diagnose the necessary fix before looking under the hood.

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Car Won’t Start Clicking Noise

When a car will not start and it is accompanied by a clicking noise, there are a few different possibilities as to what the culprit is. So you may be wondering “why does my car make a noise when I turn it on?”.

If your car won’t start followed by a single clicking noise, then this could be a faulty car starter or starter relay. Your car’s starter will make a clicking sound when your turn your key or press the start button if there it is not working. It is possible that jump starting your battery may help get your starter working again.

If your car will not start followed by a series of rapid clicking noises, then it is likely an electrical problem inside the car. If your car is making fast clicking sounds and won’t start, it could be an alternator problem or a battery problem. Your car battery may be dead or the battery’s terminals may have corrosion. If the alternator has any issues, then this directly affects the battery.

The alternator charges the battery while the car is in motion, so if the car alternator is defective then the battery may not be charged enough to start the car.

So when you try to start your car, and the components that engage your battery and the starter do not work, your car will make clicking noises. You may need to visit a mechanic to safely diagnose your car won’t start clicking noise problem.

Car Won’t Start No Noise

If like earlier your car won’t start yet there is no noise, the issue may be different. If your car makes no noise when trying to start then the problem may be the car starter. If the starter is not trying to turn the engine over, then no clicking sound will be made. Therefore the cause of your car won’t start no noise problem is likely the battery.

If your car battery has corroded terminals or is flat out of juice, then it cannot power the car starter and thus can’t turn over the engine.

Car Makes Noise When Turning

The last thing anyone wants is to hear an unpleasant sound when turning the steering wheel. Knowing you will have to turn again before you can pull over, that stressful sound will only cause you more stress. If your car makes noise when turning, there are actually a few problems that might be the culprit.

For starters there are a lot of different car noises when turning. You may hear creaking, screeching, whining, clunking or popping and each car sound can have a different cause. While turning your wheel, make note of the specific type of car noise when turning.

If your car makes whining noise when turning, the problem might be the with the steering itself. Whining noises when turning can mean there is a problem with your power steering system or the power steering pump. The problem noise is likely being caused by low power steering fluid levels, although it could be a bigger problem. A damaged power steering rack or pump will make it noticably difficult to turn the wheel as well.

If your car makes clunking noises when turning, the problem could be your car suspension joints or the shocks and struts. The car will make clunking noises when turning if the car is not properly supported by the suspension and shocks. Furthermore you may notice the car feeling loose or bouncy when turning which is more evidence of damaged struts. Also, check your tie rod when your car makes clunky noises when turning.

Car noises when turning may come from other issues as well. If you still haven’t found the reason for the noise, some other car parts to check out are your tie rods, ball joints, or CV joints. Any auto parts that moves or rotates when your car turns can be the culprit for a car making noise when turning.

Car Makes Noise When Accelerating

If you find your car making noise when accelerating, there can be a few reasons for the annoyance. If you find that the car noise gets louder the more your car accelerates, first check your car exhaust. If the car can not get rid of exhaust when speeding up, then the excess pressure creates a loud noise that only gets worse. Make sure there is nothing wrong with your exhaust first.

Next check the car transmission to see what is making your car make noises when accelerating. If you drive an automatic car meaning you do not need to shift between gears, then the problem might be that the transmission is not entering the next gear. So that loud sound may be your car trying to accelerate while staying in first gear. If you drive a car with a manual transmission, then the clutch might be slipping when trying to change gear. That loud noise could be the grinding within your transmission as the car works too hard.

If the car noise while accelerating happens to be a squealing sound or chirping sound, the problem could be loose or slipping belts. The different belts that allow your car to move energy and accelerate can make a chirping noise if they are not making the proper contact with the engine. So make sure no belts or pulleys are loose inside the engine bay.

Car Makes Noise When Braking

Everyone who has ever driven a car has had brake problems at one point. Many of those problems become noticeable once your car makes noises while braking, so it is important to point out the sounds being made.

If your car makes a squealing noise when applying brakes, the most common culprit is worn brake pads or worn brake rotors. When you press the brakes in your car while in motion, the brake pads within the brake caliper press against the wheel’s brake rotors, thus slowing the wheel speed and your car. If either the pads or rotors are worn, that squealing sound is likely a metal on metal grinding. Not only is the noise unpleasant, but the brakes are much less effective with worn brake pads or rotors.

If after checking your brakes you find perfectly good pads and rotors, sometimes the problem is actually pretty small. A grinding sound could be just a small rock stuck in your rotors. If you wiggle the rotors slightly you may hear a pebble fall out. If so, that pebble was creating the annoying car noises by wedging between the brake pads and brake rotors.