While modern cars are more reliable than ever, they still need regular maintenance and many motorists don’t notice a needed repair until something changes, particularly when there are car noises.

You’re the most familiar with how your car is supposed to sound, so any new, unusual sound should be a call to action to contact a trusted auto repair pro.

Our auto repair experts in Las Vegas have put together a list of some of the most common sounds customers visit us for. Familiarize yourself with these noises and what they could mean so you know when to bring your car, truck, SUV, minivan or hybrid in for service.

Mechanic checking car noises

10 Car Noises You Need to Notice

Your ears are an excellent early warning system for potential mechanical problems. Understanding what the various sounds your vehicle can make when it is malfunctioning will help you identify serious problems so you can better explain them to your mechanic. Drivers should keep an ear out for the following sounds and take proactive action should they encounter them:

#1 Hissing noises 

If your vehicle’s engine begins making a hissing sound, it often indicates that there’s a leak in the cooling system or a vacuum line. Leaks in the cooling system are an urgent matter, as they can cause your engine to overheat, resulting in major damage. Vacuum line leaks are also serious, as they can significantly degrade your vehicle’s gas mileage or impact its drivability. Make no mistake, if you’re hearing hissing noises, a visit to a competent mechanic is important.

#2 Clunking 

If you hear a clunking noise when your vehicle travels over bumps or potholes, it can be indicative of a problem with the undercarriage. Your tailpipe may be loose or your vehicle could have worn-out ball joints, control arm bushings, or degraded stabilizer link pins. It’s definitely worth checking out, as these problems will only get worse over time.

#3 Howling 

If you’re hearing a howling noise from the rear of your vehicle, this typically indicates a problem with its differential. The differential is a device that divides engine torque, allowing each output to turn at a different speed. Differentials are typically found in all-wheel-drive vehicles, and most modern vehicles have them, too. There are several things that can cause problems with the differential, so talk to your mechanic.

#4 Squealing

If your vehicle’s engine is making a high-pitched noise like a squealing pig, you could have an issue with your serpentine belt. The serpentine belt is a belt used to drive your automobile’s power steering pump, alternator, water pump, and air conditioning compressor.

#5 Metallic Screeching When Brakes Are Applied 

If you hear a noise that sounds like metal grinding on metal when you apply your brakes, it’s very likely that your brake pads have worn out and need replacement. Brake pads provide the friction necessary to slow or stop your automobile. They’re made of resilient materials but will wear down over time because of all the heat and pressure they endure. Not replacing the pads will cause your vehicle to brake less effectively and will eventually lead to damage to the vehicle’s braking system.

 #6 Clacking noise

If your vehicle sounds like it’s a wooden roller coaster or that it’s constantly crossing train tracks, it’s highly likely that its CV joints are failing. CV joints allow the automobile’s driveshaft to transmit power from the transmission to the drive wheels. 

#7 Groaning on Turns  

If your vehicle makes a groaning noise whenever you round a curve or make a turn, it is often an indicator that the power steering pump needs replacement. The power steering pump gives you a hydraulic assist when turning your vehicle—without it, turning would require a lot more muscle power and would be impossible in some large vehicles.

#8 Pinging From The Engine 

This sound indicates some very serious problems with combustion inside your engine. A percussive noise from your engine can indicate detonation, pre-ignition, or spark knock, all potentially very harmful to the engine. When these problems occur, your engine is not firing properly. Left unrepaired, this could cause very expensive problems for your engine.

#9 Engine knocking 

If your engine is making a knocking noise and that noise increases with RPM, it could indicate an expensive problem. If the noise is deep, it could be a sign of a bad rod bearing. Rod bearings are components of the engine that turn the crankshaft. Rod bearings are difficult for mechanics to access and are expensive to replace. The problem could also involve a spun bearing, which will require extensive repair work to resolve. Lighter knocking sounds may indicate a problem with your valves, which are less expensive to repair.

 #10 Crunching noise 

If your vehicle makes a crunching noise while it shifts gears, it’s highly likely that you have a problem with your transmission. Your vehicle’s transmission is vital to its operation. The transmission consists of a series of gears and other components and ensures the correct amount of power goes to your wheels. When your transmission is malfunctioning, your vehicle can lose its fuel economy or even become inoperable. The sooner you address this problem, the better, because, if left unresolved, it could cause your entire transmission to require replacement—an expensive job.

Got Car Noises? Auto Body Shop Near You

At Sudden Impact Auto, our team of friendly, expert mechanics is ready and able to help with any and all of the funky sounds that are coming from your car. Stop by the shop or give us a call at 702-457-3002 today and we’ll help your car hit the right note!