Are you experiencing a weird car noise that has you concerned? Do you fear that there is significant damage being done to your vehicle every time that you put it into ‘drive’? If so, then you need to learn more about the different engine noises.

You might be surprised to learn that different engine noises mean different things. The sound can help you determine what’s wrong with your car. Once you learn these noises and how they differ, you can troubleshoot the issue.

See below for a guide to the many strange engine sounds that you should be aware of and what each means for your car’s condition.

1. Grinding Sound

Grinding Sound

This is quite possibly the most common engine noise that you’ll hear. This is because there are so many different things that can cause the all-too-familiar grinding sound.

If you’re dealing with a grinding noise, then you’ll need to pay attention to what time the grinding noise occurs. See below for a guide of what the timing of the sound could mean for your car:

  • When you shift the car– This is typically a sign that your clutch is worn out.
  • When you hit the brakes– almost always means that your brake pads have been worn down to the metal and need to be replaced right away.
  • While you drive– Your bearings are worn out.
  • While you’re idle (such as stopped at a red light)– Also a sign that your bearings have worn out.
  • When you make a turn– You have a CV joint or two that needs to be replaced. It could also be a sign of further suspension problems. Use your mechanic as your guide.

The good news is that all of these sounds are fixable. Unlike other sounds on this list, the grinding noise is a common part of the vehicle aging process and won’t require any dramatic repairs.

2. Screeching Sound

Ah yes, the ever-so-common screeching sound. Every driver has either heard the sound coming from their car or someone else’s while stopped at a stopped light—or both.

Some would describe this as screeching, squealing, or screaming sound coming from the engine. Believe it or not, this high-pitched sound is almost always coming from your serpentine belt.

As with any other car part, the serpentine belt wears down with time. If left unfixed, this can cause your engine to lose control of features such as its water pump, alternator, power steering pump, air conditioning, and so on.

The good news is that, if this is caught early on, it won’t pose a problem to your engine’s long-term health.

However, the longer you let it squeal, the worse it will get. When you take the car in to get it fixed, make sure to have the mechanic inspect all the engine features that the belt touches.

If a few of those features are starting to go, then the repair costs will quickly add up. In that case, it might be a better investment to purchase a new car. Be sure to visit this car dealership to see if the finances make sense for your situation.

3. Clunking Sound

Clunking Sound

It isn’t uncommon for a car engine to make a sound similar to someone knocking on a metal door. The only time you’re bound to hear this noise is while you’re driving.

The sound you’re hearing is what car experts refer to as a “detonation knock”. Don’t worry, it’s not as life-threatening as it sounds.

It simply means that there is a lean mixture between the air and the fuel you’ve placed in your car. In other words: there is too much air in your engine, and not enough fuel.

There are many ways to prevent engine knocking (detonation knocking) such as:

  • Keep a watchful eye on the mixture
  • Look at the timing
  • Raise the octane level
  • Blow out the carbon
  • Look into your knock sensor

As always, it never hurts to bring it into a mechanic. If you feel that you’ve heard a knocking sound, take it in right away.

4. Clicking Sound

You might notice that there is a very subtle, yet consistent, clicking noise coming from your car. The frequency may or may not change as you speed up or slow down.

If so, then it’s likely a sign that you either have a defective valve filter that needs to be replaced (an easy fix!) or the valve has too much space in it.

Take the car into a car mechanic to make sure there aren’t other issues causing the clicking beyond the valvetrain.

5. Bang Noise

This is the most alarming sound of the bunch. A sudden loud bang can occur when there is a backfire in your engine.

The backfire can stem from things such as bad engine timing, a bent valve, a detonation knock (as previously mentioned), and so on.

You’ll want to bring it into a mechanic shop as soon as you hear (or think you’ve heard) a bang. A backfire can quickly cause damage to your exhaust and intake valve.

Don’t Put Off Strange Engine Noises

Don't Put Off Strange Engine Noises

Any time that you hear strange engine noises, the worst thing that you can do is let it continue. Many drivers choose to shrug off the sound in fear of a costly repair bill.

More often than not, the repair costs will be light if you take it into the shop right away. Be proactive, not reactive!

Be sure to browse our website for more articles on engine noises, as well as many other helpful topics that you will enjoy.

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