Brakes Grinding and Other Car Noises

This list of noises that can come from your car should serve as a warning that you need to take your car to the shop. Brakes grinding, unusual rattles, and other noises are typically precursors to or symptoms of something wrong with the vehicle. If you hear any of these sounds, make it a priority to get your car checked at the auto repair shop as soon as possible. If you wait, you could wind up in an emergency situation such as having no breaks while driving.


If you are in the process of stopping your car and you hear a sound that is similar to metal rubbing against metal you are hearing your brakes grinding. Brake grinding occurs when your brake pads are worn and they are rubbing against the rotors. This needs to be checked immediately so that you don’t lose your brakes completely. If the pads are not worn, there could be something lodged in the caliper. You will need to have this removed by a mechanic to stop the noise and keep from damaging the brakes.


Squeals can have different meanings. This is typically a rubber type sound that starts out intermittently and progresses over time. Squeals can indicate a loose serpentine belt. Squeals can also point toward major problems with components like the air conditioning compressor or a pump like the power steering or water pump. If the squealing comes from the brakes it can be indicative of low brake fluid. Any squeal should be checked by a mechanic, so that it can be corrected before the problem becomes a major one.


Bubbling is a noise like you hear when you boil water. If you hear this sound or a gurgling sound you need to head for the shop. Your car’s antifreeze may be bubbling which could mean it is running hot. If it overheats and is not corrected it could crack the engine. You can often hear this bubbling sound inside the car though the heating and air vents.


Rattling noises typically come from under the car. Exhaust components are metal and if they become loose you will hear a rattling noise. You don’t want to wait to get this noise checked out. If it stops rattling it could mean that the exhaust components have fallen off the car. The rattling noise could also be a failed catalytic converter, a much more expensive repair.


Knocking noises coming from your tires or under your car should not be ignored. If the sound is heard when you are at low speeds you could have a wheel bearing loose that is about ready to fall out. If the sound is when you are driving at normal speeds you could have a problem with a CV joint. Both of these situations need to be corrected as soon as possible and you should not drive until you know the knocking has been corrected.


When you are driving down the road and go across a bump you shouldn’t hear a squeaking noise. If you do hear a squeak when you go over bumps you need to have your shocks and struts checked for wear. You should also have the mechanic check your suspension system thoroughly. If the rubber bushings that cushion your suspension are worn, you will hear a squeak.


A clicking noise may be bothersome but thankfully it is not necessarily a problem. Older vehicles often have a clicking noise that comes from valves that are a little bit loose. This does not mean the valves are coming out; this looseness is generally due to age. If the noise bothers you, you can have it checked by a mechanic. However, you can usually add high mileage motor oil that will stop the clicking noise.


Hissing noises coming from your car does not mean you have a snake hiding somewhere. This sound is typically indicative of an air leak in a hose. The sound may be a hiss or similar to a whistle. It is easily recognized as being the sound of leaking air. If the sound is high pitched it could be coming from the alternator. If the alternator is under some type of mechanical stress you will hear this sound and need to get it checked.

Sounds such as brakes grinding or air hoses hissing are your car’s way of communicating with you. It is trying to tell you that something is not right and needs to be checked. Failure to listen to your car’s sounds can lead to mechanical failure that is costly. If you have your car checked as soon as you hear sounds you can possibly save money and keep your car running longer.