Tips from Used Car Advisor

Car Advisor Tamotsu Todoroki

Hi, this is Tamotsu Todoroki. I am a car advisor of
I write an online column every week to take care of your vehicle. My column is all about something useful and practical for your vehicle. Please have a look once to keep your car in good condition.


Unfamiliar Sounds That Signal Car Problems - Vol.382

Normally, if your car is well maintained, your rides should be smooth, and the only sounds you should hear are the ones coming from your audio system. Not everything you hear is, of course, indicative of a major problem but, more often than not, cars will signal you when issues occur through different sounds resonating from the affected areas.

You don't need to panic every single time you hear something unfamiliar and rush to a car service to get a diagnosis because they're not cheap and you could end up paying for good news. It is important to listen carefully and try to make sense of what type of noise your car is making and where it is coming from. Some sounds will alert you that a check-up is required, and once you are familiar with them, you will be able to distinguish between a singular event and a recurring car problem.

When you hear a hissing noise when the engine is turned off, it means that you could have a leak in your cooling system or you could have an oil leak. There is no discernable difference between the two as far as the noise is concerned. So, unless you know what to look for when popping a hood, just schedule an appointment with a mechanic. Dismissing this sound could lead to steering issues and even cause the engine to overheat.

Engine Shrieking and Knocking
The rubber from the serpentine belt occasionally needs replacing. Whenever you hear a shrieking sound coming from under the hood, chances are, that's the issue. As this is a problem with a quick and affordable solution, try to get it done fast to avoid a complete breakdown while on the road.

Sometimes, you hear knocking in the engine compartment if you are using low-quality fuel. This mostly happens when you are accelerating or when the engine is under a heavy load. The sound results from failed or irregular ignition. Bring your car for a checkup to make sure no serious issues arise.

Rattling and Hammering
You never want to hear any rattling from under the car. A loose exhaust pipe or even loose brake pads can make rattling and hammering noises, and any of these problems are bad for your car.

Hammering can be associated with multiple issues. Depending on where the sound comes from, you will be able to tell if you need to stop and check the serpentine belt or double back and pick up bits and pieces of your exhaust pipe. Worst-case scenario, hammering can be down to lose screws and pins in areas you cannot reach. If that's the case, you should see a mechanic as soon as possible.

Whenever you hear a loud bang that resembles a small explosion or gunshot, chances are, your car just backfired. This is not indicative of any major problem but a trip to the mechanic might be in order regardless. The air mixture could be hotter than recommended or there might be something wrong with the catalytic converter. Either way, just because the car keeps running you shouldn't dismiss the warning signs.

Cars are designed to emit certain sounds when they accelerate, brake, and turn but these are universal noises that all cars make and are easily recognizable. When you start hearing something that doesn't feel right or slightly out of place, it's a good idea to either try to find the origin of the noise yourself or go to a mechanic for help.

Often times, it will be cheaper, in the long run, to do regular checkups at a service shop rather than ignore strange noises because you feel like the car is still running smoothly. Reading the manufacturer's manual and taking good care of your vehicle can prevent most non-accident related issues you may encounter.