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Why is my car making that sound? Common car noises

woman holding ears with a pillow and her hands

“Why is my car making that sound?” can be a stressful question to ask yourself when all of the sudden your car is making an unfamiliar noise. Today we’re listing a few common car sounds and what your car might be trying to tell you. This guide can help you be a good detective and ensure that if and when you have to make a service appointment, you can explain exactly what’s going on and hopefully expedite any necessary repair.

Rattling Noises

Rattling noises can happen at different times – idling, when you start, driving at speed, or when you brake. So first, identify when you’re hearing the noise. Next, identify where, to the best of your ability, you hear the sound coming from.

  • Is it coming from under your car or does it sound like it’s on the outside of your vehicle? It could be the exhaust system or the heat shield around it needs attention – it runs the length of your vehicle and could make a rattling noise while you’re driving if it’s loose.
  • Is the sound coming from the tires/wheels? There’s a robust suspension system that keeps your car running relatively soundless when working properly- if your wheels are rattling, you might need attention on this system. Items like struts, bushings, sway bars, can all make a rattling noise when there’s too much wear and tear or something is damaged/loose.

Squealing Noises

The dreaded squeal! This is a noise where you’ll want to pay special attention to when it’s happening. Squealing is often related to a belt in your car, but a squealing could be lots of things depending on the context of the noise.

  • Is it happening only when you start the vehicle? It could be the serpentine or fan belt.
  • Does it happen when you brake? If so, it could be time for new brake pads.

Clicking or Clunking Noise

Another noise where understanding when it’s happening will be helpful in diagnosing the issue.

  • If your car is clunking or clicking when you make turns? This might be related to your suspension or a loose/damaged tie rod. (Author’s note…I’ve had this exact noise happen and turns out it was in fact the tie rod!)
  • Is it clunking while braking? This could mean trouble with your brake calipers/brake system and should be checked immediately – brakes are so important to safety on the road!

No matter what noise you’re hearing, it’s important to listen to what your vehicle is trying to tell you with its various sounds. When you make an appointment with CarCare and you have a noise, our technicians do a full multi-point inspection as well as a drive test so they can recreate the sound and be sure they know exactly what the issue is. It takes a special attention to detail to ensure we get to the bottom of noises that your vehicle makes, and may even require deep diagnostic work when the issue isn’t immediately apparent.

Not sure if you need to come in? You can reach us anytime via email at or give us a call to talk through what might be going on. You can also always make an appointment and describe your issue in the open text box of the booking process – we can help guide you to the best next step from there!


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