Picture yourself riding through the desert and suddenly you hear a noise emanating from your car you never heard before. “What the heck is that noise?” you ask yourself over and over, or “Am I hearing it or imagining it?” Then you grapple with whether or not you should continue on to the nearest service station or stop the car to prevent any further damage. Without the proper knowledge to make this important decision, drivers may find themselves taking on a lot of stress at a very inconvenient time.
One of the things most car owners don’t realize is that cars, like people, can have many types of issues with them. As well, they make many different types of sounds, running well or not so well! The informed car owner can make a better decision on whether to seek the help of an automotive expert with simple diagnostic tests, using simple tools (or even no tools) and a bit of knowledge to assist them with this decision, lending them peace of mind along the way. In this article, I hope to offer you insight to some of this knowledge. After reading, you may find yourself thinking on a more simple level when dealing with your car’s issues.
Cars have the potential to make a wide range of sounds: clicks, ticks, pings, bangs and pops. Some are more serious than others. If that noise is driving you batty and you aren’t near a mechanic, pull the car safely to the side, taking all safety precautions into account. While still in the car and the car running, listen to see if your car is still making the noise. If it is, the sound is most likely related to the engine in some way. If not, then it is more likely the rest of the car. Either way, we have isolated the noise into two areas of importance, moving or not moving.
Let’s assume we can still hear the noise with the car running but motionless. We can further isolate the noise by simply walking around the vehicle once or twice listening for the sound and where you can hear it the loudest or most frequently.
Even though, in most cars, the engine is located in the front of the car, the engine’s exhaust travels the length of the vehicle so anywhere along that system, noises can be created through defect or vibration. The further to the rear you find the noise, the less serious the problem. A general rule of thumb for today’s front-wheel drive vehicles is any noise from the driver’s door to the back of the car (while the car is motionless) would not hinder you from driving to a service station, or home.
The noises you could expect to hear coming from an exhaust that has a hole or crack leaking exhaust somewhere throughout the system would sound both low-pitched and high pitched simultaneously, sounding similar to a snare-drum with a bit of a thump at the same time …