Auto PartsTech Tips

What’s that sound?

One of the most unnerving things when driving is noticing a noise that wasn’t there before. While some people choose to simply turn up the radio louder, that’s probably not a good approach. If your car’s making a loud noise now, chances are it’s not far from a breakdown. It’s in your best interest to find the cause of the noise before that happens, and causes a potentially larger repair bill.

A compromised exhaust system is one of the easiest sounds to pick out. The sound itself is unmistakable. However, listen more carefully. If this sound came on suddenly, chances are some part of your exhaust system broke. If you hear an accompanying scraping sound, pull over immediately, as part of the exhaust system is dragging. If it snags on a pothole, it can cause a lot of damage to the underside of your car.

What if you notice a sudden hissing coming from the engine compartment? You’re going to want to pull over and pop the hood to check it out. Chances are a hose has burst or come loose. If you’re lucky, it’s a vacuum line you can plug back in with little ill effect. Otherwise, check your fuel and cooling system hoses. If you have a coolant leak, you’re probably close to overheating. A fuel leak is more dangerous, as this can lead to a fire.

Suppose you hear a humming sound that comes and goes dependent on road speed and when turning left and right. If that’s the case, then you likely have worn wheel bearings. Keep going to your destination, but make sure to get the wheel bearing(s) replaced as soon as possible. A wheel bearing locking up solid at road speed can lead to a dangerous accident.

What if you hear a clicking that comes and goes, also dependent on road speed? If that’s the case, you probably have a worn CV joint. When you stop the car, if you can, get it up on ramps or jack stands. If you see a torn CV boot, you’ll know you’ve found the problem. With CV boots, it’s important to note that the noise is due to the joint starting to run dry. This means that the boot

has been cracked for a while already. The clicking sound isn’t an early warning, but rather a late one. If the clicking just started, you can probably make it to your destination. Just make sure to get that fixed as soon as possible.

Above all, don’t ignore any strange sounds your car is making. Often, a sound is the only warning you get for a problem.

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