A guide to car noises and common causes

A guide to car noises and common causes


Noises coming from your car can be concerning, but especially so when you don’t know what the issue might be. To help you work out what might be wrong, we’ve looked at some of the most common types of car noises and what might be causing them. 

Clicking and ticking noises 

If you hear a clicking noise when you try to start your vehicle, there may be a problem with the electrics – and more specifically the battery in your car. This clicking noise may be a sign that the battery does not have enough power to crank the engine because it is faulty, or the alternator is broken and is no longer charging it. If you hear the noise more generally when you’re driving, it may be that you need to replace engine oil. Dirty or low oil can mean parts rub together causing these clicks. If you don’t replace oil in your car when required, parts may rub together over time and cause the engine to overheat or parts to wear down. 

Find out more about car warning lights and what to do about them. 

Whirring and whining noises 

A whirring or whining noise can be caused by any number of issues. For example, if there’s an issue with your power steering system such as a leak, you may hear this noise. You should address any issues with power steering as soon as possible with your local garage. One of the most common causes is also an issue with your water pump. A loose bearing in your water pump can cause parts such as the pump pulley to wobble as they rotate causing the noise as you drive. If you don’t replace any faulty parts in your water pump, your engine may overheat and fail. 

Humming noise 

A consistent humming noise may have very different causes based on where the noise appears to be coming from and when it happens. If the noise occurs when the car is stationary, it’s a sign that the issue may be a leak from a part that moves irrespective of whether the car is moving or not, e.g. your exhaust system. If the humming noise only happens when you’re driving it may be something more serious, such as worn wheel bearings or axles. You must address car repairs involving wheel bearings or axels as soon as possible to ensure you have full control of your vehicle. 

Find out more about replacing wheel bearings. 

Whistling noise 

A whistling noise while you drive is most likely caused by a leak somewhere in your engine, maybe as a result of a faulty or cracked hose in your coolant system. These pipes are vital for keeping your engine cool and efficient but are prone to damage. When they’re damaged, coolant can leak from the engine and air can escape from the pipes causing a distinctive whistling noise. These parts may not cost a lot to replace, but failure to do so will eventually lead to your engine overheating. 

Rattling noise under the car 

A rattling noise is generally caused by the metal parts of your car vibrating and hitting each other or the road. One of the most common causes of that annoying rattling noise under your car is loose parts hanging down from your exhaust system such as your manifold or muffler. When parts rust and break down in your exhaust system over time, small parts may break off causing the parts to rattle. You may also have the same issue if your catalytic converter begins to fail. 

Find out more about replacing your exhaust system. 

Noise when turning 

Often, you may notice that your car makes a specific noise when your car is turning. Depending on the noise, it may signify any number of issues. A popping noise, for example, may indicate there is an issue with your suspension. Or, if you hear a creaking noise, it may an issue with your ball joints. Whatever the noise, sounds when you turn can indicate there is an issue with your steering and should be addressed as soon as possible. 

Worried a noise in your vehicle may be a sign of something serious? Use Bumper today to find your local garage and pay off any potential repairs in easy to manage monthly car repair payment plans. 

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