Car Noises

17 Common Car Noises: Diagnosing Your Problem

Crack, bang, wallop. Our team are here to explain every strange noise your car might make!

Our cars can be an important part of our lives, some of us spend so much time in them that they become like another family member. Much like a family member they need love and attention, so when they start crying out or making strange noises, naturally it can be worrying or upsetting. Because of this, our Car Repairs Team in Northampton have put together a list of car parts sounds and what they may indicate.

Cornering: Any Sound

If your car makes any sound whilst cornering the noise can generally be located to the steering linkage. Most of the time this noise indicates that some lubrication is needed, however in more serious instances the car parts may be damaged and need replacement.


Clunking: Whilst Braking

A ‘clunking’ sound will most likely occur when there is a fault with a brake caliper. The caliper itself may not be broken, it could just have been fitted incorrectly.



In a serious case this will be a belt disintegrating, but if you’re lucky it’s something bothering the engine fan and can be sorted quite easily.


Grinding: Gears

Do you know what really grinds my gears… If you’ve ever been in a manual car with a knackered clutch, you’ll recognise this grinding noise when changing gear. Our car repairs Northampton team suggest a clutch repair or replacement, though in some cases the grinding could suggest a transmission fault.


Hissing: Under the hood

The hissing noise is similar to when you throw food in a hot pan, it’s liquid sizzling on a hot surface. This means there is a leak. Coolant or oil may be leaking onto a part of the engine that is particularly hot, perhaps even overheated.



The knocking sound is often produced by using a different grade of petrol to that your car is used to. Stick to your car’s preferred petrol to avoid this sound.



That’s backfire. This happens when the air-fuel mixture is too rich, though in worst case circumstance it could be a catalytic converter malfunction.


Humming or whirring: Under Car

Multiple reasons for this sound. Usually it will get louder with the acceleration of the car, indicating some lubricant may be needed, the universal joints may be worn, the transmission could be failing or a wheel bearing is shot. A car parts specialist should be able to work out where the sound is located.


Pinging: Engine

Engine deposits built up over time can clog the fuel injectors, creating a pinging noise. If left untreated, you could end up needing a whole new engine.

 Car Noises

Popping: Engine

This could be worn or dirty spark plugs, ignition issues, damaged spark plug wires, a malfunctioning catalytic converter or a clogged fuel filter. These issues are likely to be accompanied with some engine hesitation.


Rattling: Underneath

Quite often this is to do with a loose exhaust or brake pads. If exhaust and left damaged, this car part could fall off whilst driving.


Roaring: Acceleration

As the revs go up, so does the roar. This is likely to be the exhaust, or in a manual it may be the transmission or a slipping clutch. In an automatic the cause could be the engine struggling


Squealing: Acceleration

Loose belts could be slipping and causing this squealing sound, but it could also be located to a misaligned drive pulley.


Squealing wheels: Brakes

Dirt on the brake rotors, pads or shoes could cause this noise, though a more serious reason might be totally worn pads. Squealing wheels is bad news, you need to get your car checked; our car repairs Northampton team would be glad to take a look!


Scraping: Brakes

Uh oh, you’ve gone way past squealing and you’ve shot the brakes; this noise is metal against metal!


Tapping: Engine

Low oil, fill her up! In worst case scenario the valve train is damaged.



This is often related to transmission wear and tear.

So there you have it, a collection of the noises your car makes. Backseat drivers, christmas CDs and children shouting ‘are we there yet?’ don’t count, but if you have any more genuine car fault noises, please feel free to tweet our car repairs Northampton team @InTownAuto.

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