Don’t Ignore These 5 Sounds!

We’ve all been there. You climb behind the wheel of your car, crank that bad boy up, and suddenly a noise catches your ear. A squeal or a clicking sound. Possibly some hissing. It’s faint but there, and it wasn’t there yesterday. So, is it bad? Will your car explode while driving? Does it require immediate assistance? Below are the five sounds you should never ignore, no matter what.

Squealing Sounds Upon Ignition

Picture it: you start your vehicle and a loud squealing sound comes from nowhere. Maybe you jump. Maybe you yelp. Maybe you need a bathroom break. But, as that squeal slowly fades into nothingness, you’re left with one question. What in the world was that? If the noise comes from the front of your car as you crank things up, it may mean that your serpentine belt is nearing death. What is that, you ask? Simply put, it’s a very long belt that wraps its way around multiple wheels and pulleys beneath your vehicle’s hood. It touches systems like your AC compressor and power steering system, so having a healthy serpentine belt is necessary for your vehicle’s quality of life. So, if your car makes this sound, get it into the shop immediately. Sometimes, a failed belt is the difference between having air conditioning and not. But, other times, a failed belt is the difference between your vehicle running… and not.

Squeaking When Turning the Steering Wheel

Any sound when moving your steering wheel is cause for concern. Plus, if your vehicle was made within the last five decades, you have a power steering system. It’s a great invention, power steering, and many people who have had theirs fail while driving can attest to how important it is to a functioning vehicle. But, it requires fluid to operate efficiently. When that fluid drops below a certain threshold–or if the pump fails completely–air can snake its way through lines and cause all sorts of weird noises upon steering. So, if there are noises while you’re steering, or if steering itself is becoming cumbersome, get it checked out. It may be nothing more than needing your power steering fluid topped off. But, it could also be as serious as needing the entire power steering pump replaced. Either way, don’t get caught unable to turn the wheel of your car while cruising down the highway.


We are all familiar with the sound, and it can be absolutely terrifying. In many cases, the boom can be so great that it sounds like a gun being fired off in the distance. However shocking the noise might be, the reason for it is simple. Backfiring means that a car’s engine is running too rich. What does that mean? Basically, it means that the fuel-to-air ratio within the engine itself is off and is leaning much more toward fuel than air. There are times when an issue with a car’s spark plugs can cause backfiring. But, the problem with backfiring is that if it’s allowed to continue, it can permanently damage your vehicle’s exhaust system. That alone can cause failure cascades throughout your entire vehicle, so it’s imperative that you get your car to a shop the second you hear it backfire.

Knocking Or Pinging Sounds Beneath The Hood

If either of these sounds increases in intensity and/or volume while accelerating, you’ve got a big problem. Engine knocks, as they are called, are tied to the detonation of fuel inside the engine’s cylinders to get your vehicle to move. Normally, an engine’s cylinders combust at the exact same time, but when misfiring begins to happen, it causes that knocking sound. It’s important to get your vehicle into an auto repair shop as soon as possible once the noise pops up because while the knock itself isn’t good, diagnosing exactly where it is coming from can make things worse. Rod knock, for example, is when certain parts of your vehicle’s engine start wearing down toward a point of failure. Hearing the knock, especially during acceleration, means you need a professional ASE-certified mechanic to look and further diagnose the problem to find a resolution that fits all parties involved.

The “Off-Kilter Washing Machine” Sound

If that description confuses you, then chances are you’ve never heard that sound comes from your vehicle. The sound of a wobbling washing machine during its spin cycle with pennies inside is almost exactly what this sound is like, and for a good reason. The problem? You’re in danger if you hear it. If you ever clock this sound while driving, no matter where you are, you must pull over immediately. That loose-change-in-a-washing-machine sound happens because you have a loose lug nut inside your hubcap. And yes, a loose lug nut means that your tire isn’t secure.

It’s true that the bulk of your relationship with your vehicle is auditory. Listening out for foreign sounds is par for the course, and staying diligent about those sounds can keep you and your loved ones from catastrophe while cruising down the highway. If you hear any of the sounds above, call us immediately at (425) 771-4588 or get your vehicle to our auto repair shop at 21701 Hwy 99, Lynnwood, WA 98036. We can get you back on the road safely while providing effortless explanations for what is happening with your car.

Written by Jeff's Auto Repair

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