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Hear anything strange? Here is what your car is telling you

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You are probably familiar with the sounds your car usually makes. But what should you do when strange sounds appear? In this article, we will try to explain what kind of wreck or nuisance a certain sound might imply.

A high-pitched sound that ceases when you turn off the engine: Adjust or replace the belt. A belt should be elevated about 1 cm and must not be worn out, cracked or glazed.

A continuous high-pitched sound that may continue after you turn off the engine: The rubber gasket on the radiator pressure cap might be worn.

Rhythmic ticking in the upper part of the engine while the car idles: It's possible that your oil level is low. Turn off the engine and wait for ten minutes for the engine to cool. Then check the oil level. If the oil level is alright you will probably have to have a mechanic check the valves.

Our video tutorial can help you if you are not sure how to check engine oil level.


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 Oil level can be measured assuming that you’ve waited long enough for the oil to drain into the oil chamber.

Loud "metal" knocking in your engine: Pull over and call for a car service. This sound may come from a loose rocker arm or a faulty piston, which can lead to engine wreck.

Rhythmic “metal” knocking that accompanies acceleration: this may come from using fuel with the wrong octane rating.

You hear the engine working after you have turned it off: This can happen to cars that have carburetors. The reason might be that the idle speed is set too high or because of excessive carbon in the combustion chamber.

Whistling coming from under the hood: Check hoses for leaks. If the whistling comes from the inside of the driver's cabin, it’s highly likely that there is a leak in the weatherstripping.

An offbeat rhythm while the engine idles: Turn it off and try to define the issue by following these steps, bearing in mind that this primarily applies to older-generation cars.

  • Check if the cables that lead to the spark plugs are damaged or disconnected
  • Check if the spark plugs are clean and properly gapped by removing one by one. Change the ones that are damaged or burned out.
  • If it’s not the spark plugs that cause the problem, have your mechanic check the ignition system electronically.

The engine idles loudly: If it’s an older-generation vehicle, a technician should check the compression in each of the cylinders.  

Your car produces an extremely loud sound: It probably has a hole in the muffle. Have it replaced as soon as possible.

You hear wailing or a low buzz on curves: In older-generation cars, the cause might be worn out wheel bearings.

The tires produce a strange rhythmic sound as you drive: Check how much they are inflated, how much they are worn and if the wheels are balanced.

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It’s recommended to check the pressure when the tires are cold as that will give the most precise reading.

You hear squealing as you step on the brake: The brake pads are probably worn. Have them replaced as soon as possible.

You hear clunking coming from under the vehicle, especially when you go over bumps: It’s probably the shock absorbers or the suspension system. If the sound comes from the rear, you might have a loose tailpipe or muffler.

Please bear in mind that the explanations provided in this article are of general character and that you will need to consult your mechanic for precise diagnostics. Feel free to contact us if you would like to suggest a topic that you want to know more about.