Ten Sounds That Tell You When Your Car Is Broken

Clank, clack, whoosh — here’s a guide to 10 ominous, common sounds coming from your car and what causes them.


10.) Heat Shield Rattle

Notice that high-pitched rattle coming from somewhere underneath your car? If it isn’t part of your exhaust system rattling off, there’s a good chance that some heat shield hardware has rusted through.

Suggested By: Clock84

9.) Exhaust Leak

If your car gives off a consistent whooshing noise when under throttle or if for some reason your car suddenly seems to be a ton louder, you probably have an exhaust leak. Not only will exhaust leaks make your car sound worse and possibly put you and your passengers at higher risk for carbon monoxide poisoning.

Worse than that, it can also cause loss of back pressure and reduce engine power. Get it fixed!

Suggested By: Bullitt417

8.) Throwout Bearing Squealing

Though it is unlikely that a throwout bearing will completely fail, if it does give out, you may be left with a unusable clutch. How does clutchless shifting sound?


Well, it’s not impossible. But you’d better hope you’re good at it!

Suggested By: Jordan Hewlett

7.) Power Steering Pump Whine

When running your hydraulic power steering system low on fluid or your steering wheel at full lock, you’ll probably hear a whine coming from the power steering pump. That’s not a good thing! Add fluid and stop holding your steering wheel at lock before you need a new power steering pump.


Suggested By: Bullitt417

6.) Wheel Bearing Hum

Wheel bearings are crucial to the handling and safety of cars. Don’t let them slip your mind. Reader Urambo Tauro can explain how to tell when yours are on their way out.

If both bearings are original, they can be expected to have exactly the same amount of wear. If one happens to be slightly noisier, it can keep you from hearing the other one. Bearings are one of those things that ought to be replaced in pairs.

Worn wheel bearings can create a humming/howling sound when they start to fail, that gets more intense at higher speeds. A tell-tale sign to distinguish bearing noise from tire noise is to turn the wheel at speed, in kind of a “gentle swerving” motion. As you steer one way, the bearings can seat and everything sounds normal, but steering the other way allows the worn bearings to move around.


Suggested By: Urambo Tauro

5.) Synchro Crunch

Ever find yourself rowing your own gears and experience a rather unsatisfying crunch when finding one of those gears? If I were to put money down, I’d bet that your synchro for that gear chance is in need of some fixin’.


Suggested By: SX-70

4.) Tie Rod Clunk

A great method for testing the condition of your tie rods is by moving the steering wheel from nine o’clock to 3 o’clock multiple times and seeing if you can hear any clunking noise or signs of unusual amounts of play. These symptoms could determine whether you should look into replacing your inner tie rods.


Suggested By: wlb50

3.) Dead Battery Click

One of the most unsatisfying sensations in the world is when you hop into your car, turn the key, and all you hear is a click. Better hope a battery terminal connection is just a little loose or that you have a jumper pack in the backseat, because there’s a good chance that your battery has died on you.


Suggested By: bramlet

2.) Rod Knock

Rod knock is one of the least inviting noises that might come out from under your car’s hood. Subaru owners usually know it all too well. When your motor begins to go “clack clack clack clack clack clack clack,” you might be looking at a whole buncha engine work that’s about to be needed.


Suggested By: HiMyNameIsBurnerBecauseImBlockedOnJalopnikForSomeReason

1.) Bushing Clanks

If your car suffers the wrath of city potholes or awful roads on a regular basis and after some time, you begin to hear clunks and clanks from underneath your car, some of your factory rubber suspension bushings have probably began to fray or rip. But don’t you worry, they’re not even that hard to replace!


Suggested By: As Du Volant

Welcome back to Answers of the Day - our daily Jalopnik feature where we take the best ten responses from the previous day’s Question of the Day and shine it up to show off. It’s by you and for you, the Jalopnik readers. Enjoy!


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Ash78, voting early and often

I’ll repeat my answer from yesterday, which is “Welcome to Ridgeview Audi/Jaguar/Land Rover, how may we help you?”

Red flag.