Describing the Noises Your Vehicle Makes

Squeak, Squeal, Bump or Bang, at some point your vehicle is going to make strange sounds.

And those sounds are a good indication your vehicle needs some help. Unfortunately, noises don’t normally go away on their own, and it usually gets more expensive the longer you let it go.

But we’ve all been there, the embarrassing situation where we have to try and describe the noise our car is making to the guys at the shop, and they are just looking at you like you’re crazy? Well, we’ve come up with a comprehensive list that will help you better describe what’s going on with your car to improve the success rate of the mechanic finding the problem.

Another tip: Be sure to be able to tell them WHEN the noise happens and under what circumstances. it will save diagnostic time – and money!

Here is a list of common noises cars can make:

BANGING – Any brief, loud and sharp sounds almost like a gun firing. A backfire is a great example of a bang sound.

BUZZING – Any buzzing sound is a constant sound that can also be felt through the steering wheel or vibrations through the floor.

CHIRPING – Repetitive bird-like sounds.

CLANGING – Any metallic ringing that reverberates.

CLANKING – Another metallic sound that is more of a strike without the reverberation.

CLICKING – Light, high-frequency tapping.

CLUNKING – Any heavy thump or bump sound without reverberation that can often sound a little muted.

FLAPPING – Any repetitious noise that sounds like a flag in a strong wind.

GRINDING – If any sound your car makes could be painful, grinding is it. A harsh metal-on-metal scraping noise.

HISSING – It sounds like air or steam escaping from somewhere.

HOWLING – A strong wind noise even if the windows are completely rolled up.

MOANING – If you’re hearing a low-frequency sound that’s consistent. May change tone depending on speed of the car.

PINGING – If your vehicle sounds like someone is dropping marbles in an empty can, that’s pinging.

POPPING – Sharp, explosive sounds can be described as popping and usually aren’t as loud as banging.

RATTLING – The same sound as marbles rolling around in an empty can can be described as rattling.

ROARING – the sound a jet makes when it accelerates to take off. Definitely not a light noise.

RUMBLING – Almost a roar, but sounds like it’s far away.

SCRAPING – Usually a high-pitched jeet-jeet sort of noise that speeds up as the vehicle speeds up. Kind of like a chirp, but more metallic.

SCREECHING – A high pitched noise like the bad guy’s tires in a cops-and-robbers chase.

SQUEALING – High-pitched and long lasting. Alvin the Chipmunk screaming?

TAPPING – A heavier noise than a click but similar, like tapping on a board with a hammer.

WHINING – No, not like your kids, but a drawn out higher-pitched noise that usually changes with engine speed.

WHISTLING – Shrill, loud, high-pitched noise.

When it comes to describing the sound your vehicle is making, using terms a mechanic can understand are helpful.

And if your vehicle is currently trying to talk to you with some of the noises we’ve listed, let us know and we can help diagnose the problem and help you get your vehicle taken care of before it turns into something really expensive!