You’re cruising along, music blasting, windows down, not having a care in the world when all of a sudden you try to turn but have no power steering. The mechanic says your power steering pump has failed and you’ll need to pay almost $500 to get it replaced. You lament, how could you have missed the signs that your pump was about to fail? Well, if you had turned your music down for a few seconds, you would have noticed the low pitched whining that signals imminent power steering pump failure. You begin to panic, what other car sounds have you missed?!
Well, like our wildly popular What’s That Smell?! blog, we’re here to help you diagnose the car sounds you likely don’t recognize. While these sounds sometimes indicate that you’re going to need to solve a problem immediately, they’re good to know so you’re well informed the next time you go to a mechanic trying to describe what you’ve heard coming from under the car and under the hood.
If you turn your car on and you hear what sounds like an angry piglet, it’s likely that your drive belt will need to be replaced or tightened. While this is not something that needs to get taken care of right away, it can definitely be annoying – especially if you get into your car after a long day with a migraine just to hear the squealing. A mechanic should be able to diagnose this, tighten or replace your belt, and send you on your way for a very small fee.
Now this sound is a bit more serious than a loose drive belt. A grinding metallic noise, especially when slowing down, absolutely indicates worn down brake pads. Your brake pads are what rub against your rotor to slow your car down to a stop. If they’re worn down, or completely degraded, stopping might become impossible. Therefore, it’s important you get these checked out and replaced right away!
If your car is rumbling and idling unevenly it might be time for a tune up, or at the very least, a spark plug change. This isn’t something life threatening, however, it can seriously affect your gas mileage and engine in the long run. So, you should probably get them checked, replaced, and get back to a smooth idle as soon as your time and budget allows.
A Drum Solo
No, that noise isn’t Travis Barker busting out one of his infamous Blink-182 solo’s under your car, it’s something far worse. If you hear banging around under your car as your vehicle speeds up, it’s likely your universal joint or driveshaft bushings failing. This is a costly but necessary fix. And, unless you’re okay driving around with the possibility of your driveshaft breaking and catapulting your car into the next lane, something you should do as soon as possible.
Now that we’ve named some of the most common car sounds to watch out for, will you turn the music down every once and a while to listen for them?