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Common ‘warning’ noises from your car explained

Modern day cars are usually very reliable but, even so, they can still develop issues from time to time. The first sign of trouble is usually a strange noise you’ve not heard of before. Those squeaks, rattles and knocks all mean something, you just have to be able to interpret them.

Here’s a quick guide to the most common noises to help you to better understand what your car is trying to tell you. The most important thing to remember is – don’t ignore that sound, whatever it is. It will only get worse, and the louder it gets, the more urgent the need for attention.

  • Chirping or squealing noise when you accelerate

This is usually a loose, slipping belt, most likely the drive belt. This transfers power from the engine to areas such as the aircon, power steering and alternator. Over time, it can wear down and slip, hence the squealing sound.

  • Noise from the front tyres when steering

This may indicate bearings that need to be replaced, or that there is steering linkage wear.

  • Squealing sound when you brake

This is a pretty good indication that your brake pads are worn and need to be replaced. If it’s making a grinding noise, then you need to see your mechanic urgently as the pads are probably worn clear through, and this might mean that your rotors probably need replacing too.

  • Loud roaring from beneath the car

If it sounds like you’re flying a plane rather than driving a car, your muffler in all likelihood has a hole in it and will need to be replaced. If the whole exhaust has to be replaced, consider getting a stainless steel exhaust, which is less likely to rust and wear-and-tear won’t happen as fast.

  • Soft clicking noise from the engine

Your oil reservoir is trying to tell you it needs some TLC. This indicates that you are low on oil. If you replenish it and it’s still clicking, you likely have a leak or a blockage somewhere. Or it could be a valve train that needs adjusting. Either way a trip to the workshop is in order.

  • Hissing noise from the engine

This is the sound of something leaking from the engine and making contact with the hot engine, hence the hissing. It could be oil, coolant or transmission fluid.

Your car will communicate with you when it’s in trouble, either with warning signs or the above noises. Be sure to keep an ear open when you drive and if you hear any of these noises, don’t delay in getting it checked out. Leaving it for too long will likely lead to even worse problems!

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