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Unlocking the Language of Your Car: Understanding Common Car Sounds

Unlocking the Language of Your Car: Understanding Common Car Sounds

Your vehicle is constantly communicating with you, but are you paying attention? Emily Chung, owner of an auto repair shop and licensed auto service technician, deciphers nine frequently encountered car sounds and sheds light on their potential meanings.

The Humming Noise When AcceleratingAs you drive, you notice a low-pitched hum that becomes more pronounced when you accelerate. It might resemble the sound of an airplane taking off. However, once you reach a certain speed, the volume remains consistent. Interestingly, the noise intensifies when making a turn but disappears when turning the other way.

Possible Explanation: This is likely indicative of a wheel bearing noise, commonly mistaken for an engine-related issue. To differentiate, observe your RPM gauge. As you accelerate, both the RPM and speed gauges rise. When coasting at a steady speed and releasing the gas pedal, if the noise persists, it certainly does not originate from the engine.

The Droning NoiseA steady droning noise persists while driving, regardless of turning, but becomes louder during acceleration.

Possible Explanation: This noise may stem from your tires, especially if they are old or of subpar quality. Additionally, it could indicate "feathered" tires, characterized by uneven tread wear. This, in turn, might result from worn suspension components, causing the tires to bounce instead of rolling smoothly.

The High-Pitched Squealing NoiseUpon starting your engine, do you hear a piercing, high-pitched squeal, or even a bird-like chirping sound?

Possible Explanation: It is likely that your car's serpentine belt is worn or cracked. Some vehicles have multiple belts, including a separate one for the air conditioning. If the noise occurs exclusively when the air conditioning is turned on, it indicates a problem with that particular belt. It is also possible that the belt lacks sufficient tension, either requiring adjustment or a replacement of the belt tensioner. Insufficient tension leads to belt slippage, similar to the sound of tires squealing during a burnout.

The Whining Noise While TurningExplanation: If your vehicle has hydraulic power steering and you "lock" the steering wheel by turning it to its maximum extent, you will hear a high-pitched whine. This strains the power steering pump, and sustained locking of the wheel for more than a few seconds can damage the pump. To alleviate the increased pump pressure, back off about an inch from the lock position, and the noise should cease. A continuous whining sound suggests that the pump may already be damaged.

The Clicking Noise While TurningWhile turning in one direction, you hear a clicking noise that follows a cyclical pattern. The noise becomes faster as your wheels rotate more quickly, or it slows down when reducing speed during the turn. Notably, the noise may not be present when turning in the opposite direction.

Possible Explanation: This noise likely originates from your CV axle. When the CV axle shaft boot tears and leaks grease, the absence of lubrication causes the components to become dry and produce a clicking sound. If there is no significant damage, your technician can replenish the grease and replace the boot. However, if damage is present, the CV axle should be replaced.

If you encounter any of these sounds, it is advisable to have your vehicle inspected. Feel free to contact us at Automotive Super Center for further assistance and to schedule an appointment.