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Vehicle Maintenance Guide: What Is That New Noise Trying to Tell You?

As you get into your car and turn the key, you are suddenly startled by the loud screeching sound coming from the engine. What could it be? Strange noises emanating from your car are usually indicative of some kind of problem. Unusual sounds coming from your car might be something minor, but if not examined right away it could lead to more serious issues. Let’s find out about some of the most common noises you might hear, and what they could possibly mean.

The high-pitched noise mentioned above is a common sound in vehicles that are older or have higher mileage, and the sound could actually come from several different sources. If you hear this sound when you first start your car, it could be related to the alternator, the air conditioning compressor, or the power steering pump. All of these devices are driven by rubber belts, either separately or with a singular serpentine belt that drives all of them. The screeching sound means that the belt tension might need to be adjusted, or that the belts need to be replaced altogether.

Squealing coming from your brakes might mean that your brake pads are worn out. Some brake pads have a wear indicator that is built into the pad itself. When the brake pad thickness becomes 2mm or less, metal wear indicators will emit a squealing sound to warn the driver that it’s time to replace the pads. This would be the perfect time to have your brake pads examined. Continued braking with worn pads could lead to rotor damage, which means not only will you need to replace the pads, but you’ll likely need to replace the rotors.

If you hear a rhythmic, low-pitched sound when you brake that becomes progressively slower as you come to a stop, you may have warped rotors. Contrary to popular belief, warped rotors are not caused by excessive heat. Instead, the cause of warped rotors is uneven wear of the brake pads. To fix this issue, you might consider examining your brake pads to see if they have worn unevenly. The rotor itself may also have sections that are uneven, which means you could have the rotors resurfaced or replaced entirely.

A rapid ticking sound coming from your engine when you accelerate could be a sign of low oil. Since oil is the lifeblood of the engine, it is vital to make sure there is enough oil in the car. After the car has been turned off and sitting for at least five minutes, examine the dipstick and see if there is enough oil in the car. You will likely notice that the oil level is low.

A hollow clunking sound coming from the front of the car when you go over bumps could mean a worn-out ball joint. Ball joints connect the vehicle’s wheels to the suspension components.

Regardless of the noises you hear, it’s sound advice to visit a certified mechanic to make sure your car runs at its best!

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