A running car is a cacophony of sound. Most of it is soothing—tires humming, engine rumbling, tailpipes roaring. But every now and then a dissonant note creeps into the mix, and an alert driver’s ears prick up: Did you hear that? When you hear an oddball sound that just won’t recur when you bring it to the shop, reach for your nearest mobile device. The best diagnostic tool is the one that is always with you, and that is exactly what our customer Tracy did this week to save herself hundreds in diagnostic fees.

Tracy brought in her car for maintenance not long ago, and mentioned a recurring questionable racket. When the car would not reproduce the noise on our test drive she took matters into her own hands. The next time she heard the sound on her own, she found a safe spot to pull out her phone and record the sound as it happened. She brought in her car, along with her phone, and played the recording to our one of our mechanics, Andrew Kralt, who diagnosed the problem instantly.

The noise was described as an “odd sound” on acceleration, and it is very very difficult to mimic this type of noise with your voice. Since most car problems have a corresponding sound, they are immediately recognizable to a mechanic. In this case, it was a gurgling noise in the dashboard which points to a low coolant level. Air bubbles enter the heater core and you can hear it gurgling every time you hit the gas pedal.

Andrew explained that “once we knew the coolant system was low we could get to diagnosing the bigger problem. Since I knew exactly where to look, we saved lots of time on a test drive. Less time diagnosing means a smaller bill for the customer.”

Below is a list of some of the more serious car noises you could hear when there is a mechanical problem with your vehicle. If you hear anything like this, grab the nearest device with a microphone and bring it in along with your car to your next service. You never know how much time and money it could save you.

  1. Any sound when turning a corner.
  2. Clunking when braking.
  3. Flapping.
  4. Grinding manual transmission when shifting.
  5. Hissing or sizzling under the hood.
  6. Knocking from the engine compartment.
  7. Loud bang.
  8. Low-pitch humming under the car.
  9. Popping from the engine compartment.
  10. Rattles from beneath the vehicle.
  11. Roaring that increases with acceleration.
  12. Squealing or chirping on acceleration.
  13. Squealing wheels when applying brakes.
  14. Scraping or grinding when applying brakes.
  15. Tapping or clicking from the engine compartment.
  16. Whining.

Hearing something out of place? Take a quick recording then give us a shout, we will have it diagnosed in no time.

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