How to Maintain Your Vehicle

Who Else Wants to Know What the Strange Noises From Their Car Mean?

Listening to your car as you drive is crucial. Any strange or unusual sounds are usually a sign of trouble. Knowing what the sounds mean, however, is more important. Depending on what you hear, you may have to react immediately to prevent a potentially risky situation such as an accident. Here are some of the sounds you may hear as you drive and what they mean.


Squealing is one of the most common sounds you will hear when your vehicle has a problem. And you need to pay attention to where the squealing comes from and when it happens. If you hear a squeal when braking, you need to get your brakes checked immediately. Usually, this is a result of worn brake pads, and the squeal is produced when the metal components on the brakes come into contact.

You are also likely to hear a loud and high-pitched squeal when accelerating. In most cases, this sound will originate from under the bonnet. A worn, loose or slipping belt or belts are often the culprit here. It could be the serpentine belt that drives most of your vehicle's peripheral devices in the engine including the alternator, air conditioning compressor, power steering pump, water pump, etc. Luckily, this is often a quick fix, and your mechanic should be able to fix it in minutes, depending on the degree of damage.


You may also hear grinding noises, which often point to a problem with your brakes or the transmission system. If you don't replace your brake pads after they squeal, you will start hearing grinding noises when braking. This is a sign that the brake pads are completely worn, and the brake callipers are now grinding against each other. Driving your vehicle with such brakes is extremely dangerous, and you should replace the brake pads immediately.

Transmission problems can also cause grinding noises. The gears and shafts inside your vehicle's transmission system could be the culprit. The clutch thrust bearing could also be faulty, and if you drive a manual, the clutch itself could be the problem. These parts could be worn or loose, or you could be running low on transmission fluid. Usually, you will notice the grinding when the vehicle is shifting gears. Take your vehicle for a transmission system inspection as soon as you experience this.

Hissing or Whistling

Hissing or whistling sounds often signal that something is leaking. If you hear these noises from inside your car, have the weatherstripping checked. If the noise is coming from under the bonnet, you could be dealing with a coolant or oil leak, vacuum line leaks, etc. You may hear hissing when your vehicle is turned off, and this is usually a result of cold fluid that's leaking onto hot parts of the engine.

Contact a mechanical service immediately if you hear any of these noises.