What engine sounds are serious?

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5 min read

Getting to know your car is like navigating any new relationship. It takes a bit of time to feel each other out, support each other, maybe even take notice of the things you’re not crazy about. (Reminder: nothing is perfect.)

When it comes to your car, you can usually smell signs of trouble—we’re talking leaking oil, burning rubber, and that ever-alarming overheating smell from the engine. But what about sounds? Should you ignore the moans, groans, blips, and quips you hear simply as qualities of your car’s personality, or is car repair on the horizon?

Ahead, we break down eight sounds coming from your car you should watch out for. They could spell (and signal) trouble ahead.

the sound: similar to a banshee (simply: wailing)

The reality: This may indicate a loose or worn timing belt. This is a major part of your car’s overall system.

We recommend: Scheduling an appointment to have your car looked at. Better safe than sorry.

the sound: similar to a metal show (not music related, though some would argue).

The reality: You’ve worn through your brake pads. The sound of metal grinding is the calipers grinding against the rotor—definitely a cause for concern. You need your brakes to, well, brake...

We recommend: Scheduling a brake repair service sooner than later. This can help future brake problems from happening as well.

the sound: similar to beatboxing, but under the hood of your car

The reality: This could mean that your car’s valves, connecting rods, or pistons have a problem.

We recommend: Getting over to a mechanic, stat.

the sound: similar to the hum during meditation, but taking place under your car

The reality: This could be a few different issues. A humming sound could mean that the transmission is failing, the universal joints or wheel bearings are starting to wear down, or your car’s differential needs lubricant.

We recommend: Taking your car in for a proper assessment. (But definitely try humming while meditating, too. It may help alleviate any stress around this issue.)

the sound: similar to a flat tire in a cartoon show

The reality: You may have improper tire alignment or low air pressure. Since car tires need certain inflation to meet the manufacturer’s recommended level, the solution may be to have the tires realigned.

We recommend: Taking your car in. A mechanical repair is unlikely, but your local shop will know best.

the sound: similar to the sound of coins in a clothes dryer

The reality: Besides being annoying, a rattling sound inside one of your wheels—specifically at low speeds—could mean a loose lug nut inside a hub cap, and that your wheel wasn’t tightened properly last time it was removed or replaced.

We recommend: Heading to a car mechanic ASAP!

the sound: similar to a moody cat (aren’t all cats moody?)

The reality: A repetitive “rur” sound when you try to start the engine = your battery is struggling to power on. While this may sound like you need to junk your car, it’s not a huge issue. This sound simply indicates that your battery will die soon. “Soon” as in, the next time you try and turn your car on…when you’re already running behind…for a really important meeting/date/life event.

We recommend: Taking your car in for potential repairs. Just in case.

the sound: similar to your joints first thing in the morning

The reality: If your car sounds like your neck when you try to make a turn, it’s most likely coming from the CV joint, which lubes the front axles. When the joint loses grease, it starts making a clicking sound.

We recommend: Taking your car in for repair, before you need axle replacements (which can get extremely costly).

While the eight concerns above are great to watch out for, sometimes your car is communicating to you that it's wearing down, and that its last days are ahead.(Maybe this relationship just wasn't meant to be...) And sometimes the mechanic costs may be too high to make it worth fixing. Fortunately, if and when that day comes, Peddle will give you cash for your loss. If you’re wondering, “Even the junkiest car with all of the moans, groans, blips, and quips known to mankind? Can I junk my car?” Yep, we’d take that car too.

The sound of saying goodbye (to your car) may actually be the sound of a sweet, sweet deal.