What's That Clunk: Engine Noises You Should Never Ignore

A girl in the road with headphones | Weiss Toyota of South CountyIf you’ve ever worried about things that go thump in the night, just wait until you hear the noises your car makes. Some of them can send shivers up the spine of even the most dedicated car owner. Car noises can spell trouble for your vehicle, especially if they occur on a regular basis or grow louder. Here are some noises from your car engine that you should never ignore.


Your car has different types of drive belts, like v-belts, serpentine belts, and timing belts. These belts move by the friction created with a pulley and are essential for transferring power from the engine to the various mechanical components like the alternator, water pump, air conditioner compressor, and power steering pump.
These systems are essential. The alternator delivers power to your car’s battery and electrical systems by converting mechanical energy into electrical energy. The water pump cools your car engine, the air conditioner compressor cools the cabin, and the power steering pump improves your car’s handling.
The drive belts running these components are made of rubber and wear out over time, causing the squealing sounds coming from under your car’s hood. If the squealing gets louder when you step on the accelerator, you need to replace these belts.


Hissing and sizzling sounds mean a fluid is leaking on to a hot surface. Your engine may have a leak, but you will need to find it before you can fix it. Stop the engine and open the car’s hood. If you see steam rising from the engine, you can find the source of the leak.
Wait until the engine has cooled to avoid getting burned, and check the car’s oil and coolant levels. If they are under the minimum required level and you recently filled them, you probably have a leak. Once you’ve identified the source of the leak, repair it quickly. Insufficient oil and coolant levels can ruin your engine, and oil dripping on hot metal could cause a fire.


When you apply your car brakes, the brake pads catch and stop the spinning brake rotors in the brake system. The metal brake pads come covered with an abrasive material that wears out after prolonged use. When your brake pads have worn out from long use, they can no longer keep your braking system’s metal parts from grinding against each other, causing a loud screeching sound. Replace the brake pads, or you will end up with damaged brake rotors.


If you have a front-wheel-drive or a rear-wheel-drive car, its drive shaft will have constant-velocity joints for transferring power at a consistent rotational speed from the car’s transmission to its wheels. These joints come encased in protective boots made of plastic or rubber that, over time, wear out and cause the joints to fail, leading to clicking noises as you drive. Replace the joints as soon as possible, or you could end up requiring to replace the axle.
If you hear your car making any of these noises, take your car to your local service center as soon as possible. Don’t delay. It could be a matter of your family’s safety.

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