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Cars make strange noises sometimes. Given the number of moving pieces and, in many cases, explosions happening within a car, it’s a wonder they aren’t all making noises constantly. After driving for many years, especially if you drive one car for many years, you start to know some of these sounds. However, new and mysterious noises do happen, and it can be really helpful to understand what these various noises from your car could mean. Here are six of the most common car sounds and what they mean. 

girl looking out the window of a broken down car
broken down car waits for rescue workers | Tunahan Turhan/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

What is my car rattling? 

As The Family Handyman points out, there are over 30,000 parts to each of our cars. Rattling usually indicates that one or more of them is not as stationary as it should be. 

If you hear rattling, your first move should be to determine where the sound is coming from. The main areas you should look at are under the hood, inside the car, trunk, and around your wheels and tires

The next move is figuring out what makes the sound happen. Is it when you accelerate? Hit a speed bump? Stopping? Turning? Once you can recreate the sound at will and know what area it’s coming from, you can get to work. Many causes of rattling sounds in your can be fixed by tightening a bolt, screw, or another type of fastener. If you can’t specifically locate the sound, all the leg work in trying to figure it out will help a mechanic pinpoint the issue faster. These steps are well worth taking. 

Why is my car making a clicking noise? 

A mechanical clicking sound while trying to start your car is most likely a dead battery. Family Handyman wisely points out that if it isn’t the battery, it is likely a bad starter motor. In most cases, jump-starting your motor or putting the dead battery on a charger will fix the issue. 

Other clicking sounds could occur around your wheels and tires, under the hood, or from the engine. In some cases, a clicking sound coming from the wheels could be something as simple as a pebble stuck in your tire’s tread. This is particularly common with trucks with bigger tire treads. In other cases, there could be something like a bit of the wheel well cover rubbing against your tires when you turn. Removing or fixing the bent or broken piece is usually easy to figure out. 

If the clicking sound comes from inside the engine, you might be in for a bigger repair. 

What is the whining noise coming from my car? 

man changing brakes in a shop
Tyrone Browley replaces the brakes | Scott Olson/Getty Images

Whining noise from your car is typically caused by either tires or power steering. If your tire pressure is too low, you might hear a bit of whining. If a higher-pitched version of whining happens while turning, it may indicate your car is low on power steering fluid. 

Other causes of whining sounds from your car include a worn timing belt, slipping fan belt, or wheel bearings. 

What causes a squeaky noise in my car?

Squeaking sounds can come from unlubricated suspension parts, dry hinges, or trunk or hood bumper stops. In most cases, these squeaks can be fixed by replacing old rubber, lubricating suspension, or hinging parts. 

Another major cause of a squeaking sound could be your brakes. If brake pads are too worn or overheated, they may squeak. Rust on your brake rotor can also cause a squeaky sound. 

Why is my car louder when accelerating? 

Man looking un the hood of his broken down car. What car sounds happened to make this problem?
Car problems | Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Unless you drive an EV, acceleration is what causes the most wear and tear on your car because it requires the spark to ignite gasoline, making a series of tiny explosions in your car. This tends to make noise. However, with some older cars, acceleration can overtax old motor mounts. This causes the engine to shift and often makes a thunk sound. 

 If your engine makes a more metallic scrapping sound while accelerating, you might be hearing the engine knock. This fix can be as simple as using higher-octane fuel. However, knocking and metallic scrapping could also mean some serious engine issues are afoot. If fuel doesn’t fix it, It’s time to go to the shop. 

Why is my car suddenly louder? 

Most cars have mufflers meant to make the explosions quieter. However, if your car suddenly sounds like your neighbor’s old pickup truck, you might have an exhaust problem. 

With catalytic converter theft high, more people than ever are experiencing this sound. If there is any opening in your exhaust system that isn’t supposed to be there, the sound with change and often get noticeably louder. In order to fix this issue, you must first locate the source of the exhaust leak. This can sometimes be quite straightforward if there’s a rust hole or a removed catalytic converter. However, other times, it could be hard to find if it were just a blown gasket or seal. 

Why is my car making a weird noise? 

Part of owning a car is getting to know all its unique characteristics. One of the main ones is often the symphony of sounds it can make. Not every noise is a problem, but every noise should be reasonably accounted for to keep your car working well and yourself safe.