Car Noises and What They Mean

Whether you hear a squeal, click, knock, rattle, or groan, any unusual noise that your vehicle makes can be unsettling. Some of these sounds erupt for a reason: to warn you of a vehicle problem. When you hear an unusual noise, it is best to trust your gut and take your car to Auto Fitness for a thorough inspection. 


Below is a list of common car sounds and the kind of problems they translate to:

1. Loud Squealing

This sound can be heard whenever you accelerate with a cold engine, and it can mean that you have a loose or damaged serpentine belt. Rubber belts under the hood can deteriorate over time, so it is wise to have them inspected as often as possible. You need to replace them before they break as they can cause bigger problems. 

2. Knocking

Engine knocking or pinging cannot go unmissed. It is one of the most common signs that indicate a problem with the combustion process. The popular explanations are usually missed oil changes, oil leaks, incorrect fuel, poor engine timing, or excess carbon build-up on fuel system parts. A professional mechanic can make adjustments where they are needed. 

3. Sputtering

If this sound originates from the front end of the vehicle, it is likely an emissions system, fuel system, or ignition system problem. Again, it can be caused by a filthy fuel filter, worn spark plugs, or even a clogged catalytic converter. It is best to have a diagnostics test done by a professional.

4. Hissing

Hissing sounds can mean one thing. In the majority of cases, they point to a fluid leak that is dripping onto a hot component. For example, coolant can leak onto the exhaust manifold or engine block.

5. Groaning

If your steering wheel is tough to turn and makes unpleasant sounds as you struggle to grip the wheel, you’re likely in for a power steering leak. You will need to properly lubricate the system by refilling your vehicle with the correct fluid.

6. Squeaking

Squeaking sounds are most likely associated with bad brake parts, specifically the brake pads. Brake pads are engineered to emit a high-pitched squeak when they’re worn to alert you to replace them. In rare instances, loud brakes can also mean that there is dust or other contaminants caught up in the rotor or other nearby parts.


As your vehicle ages, it tends to experience more issues. If you catch any of the noises coming from your lovely car, know that our ASE-certified technicians are here to assist you. Our techs perform accurate and thorough diagnostics. We have effective and fair-priced solutions that will boost your vehicle’s performance once again.

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