Cars can make all kinds of noises. What’s normal and what can signal a serious car repair? What just means your engine is tired and what means you should rush to a mechanic? It can be tough to decipher the language of your car’s sounds. That’s why we’re going to outline some sounds you’re most likely to hear from your car and what they may mean. Anytime you’re unsure about what your car is trying to tell you, it’s best to bring it to a mechanic to make sure you don’t need a repair.
A Squealing, Squeaking, or Grinding When Braking
You come up to a stop light, press on the brake pedal…and hear squealing? You know that’s normal but what does it mean? That sound happens when a small indicator on your brake pads makes contact with your rotors, signaling that your brake pads are over-worn. If you take a look at your brake pads, you’ll see that they’ve become pretty thin and you may also notice that it takes a bit more effort to bring your car to a stop. At this point, it’s not an emergency, but it is a good idea to schedule an appointment soon to get new brake pads.
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Grinding Brakes Are A Safety Hazard, Too
Once you start hearing grinding while pressing the brakes, that’s when you should worry. A grinding sound while braking means the metal of your caliper is now grinding against your rotor, which can mean you’ll need new rotors in addition to brake pads. At this point, it can be much more difficult to bring your car to a stop, so it’s more than just a necessary car repair – it’s also a safety issue.
Squealing from Under Your Hood when Accelerating
The light turns green and you step on the gas…and a loud squealing starts up under the hood of your car. No unusual sounds from your engine are welcome, but what could this mean? Most likely, it’s due to a worn or loose serpentine belt. This happens naturally over time but keeping up with regular inspections and maintenance can help catch a worn belt before it reaches this point or breaks.
Your Serpentine Belt Helps Power Key Systems in Your Car
The serpentine belt does more than you may realize. Not only can it cause much more damage when it breaks, but also it powers all of the major systems of your car. That means you’ll lose functions such as power steering, air conditioning, and possibly even the cooling system for your engine. Basically, once the serpentine belt breaks, you’ll need a tow to your destination.
A Rumble or Roar from Under the Car
You’re cruising down the road and start to hear a rumble under your car. Maybe it’s just your music or some bumps in the road? More likely, it’s a crack or leak in your exhaust system. This can bring more of the sounds your car makes into the cabin of the car, meaning you’ll continue to have a loud ride until you get your car in for an exhaust repair.
Exhaust Leaks Can Be Dangerous
Not only is it a matter of comfort, but an exhaust leak can also be a health hazard. If you have a leak under your car, it’s possible for carbon monoxide to leak into the cabin of your car. There’s a reason houses have carbon monoxide detectors nowadays and it’s not because it’s good for your health. If you notice this roaring sound, you want to get your car to a mechanic as soon as possible.
Squeaking When Turning Left or Right
You get to your driveway and turn the steering wheel to pull in…and it squeaks back at you. What just happened? Most likely, you have an issue with your power steering. More specifically, your power steering fluid is probably low and should be topped off. You may be able to do this yourself or you can take your car to a mechanic for a brake service.
Worry More if It Turns into a Groan
If instead you hear groaning when you turn your steering wheel, it’s cause for concern. The most likely cause is that your power steering pump is failing, which can mean your ability to steer the car is about to disappear. At this point, driving your car is risky and you should instead get your car to a mechanic right away for a brake repair.
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