How to find a breakdown yourself: the sounds of a faulty car


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In everyday driving, you get used to the sounds that a working car makes. So when you hear an unusual sound – whining, squeaking, or squealing – treat it as a warning. You can identify a slight enigma before it evolves into a more significant one by paying attention to these noises.

To find a breakdown yourself, turn off the music and listen:

Squeal of brakes

Let’s highlight 2 main reasons for squealing brakes:

  • If you only hear a squeal when braking, especially when braking gently, this is due to vibration in the brake pads.
  • The screeching does not affect the braking performance. Although the sound is unpleasant, it is usually not worth worrying about. It can even happen with new pads.
  • If you hear a high-pitched squeal of the brakes when the vehicle is moving, but it stops when you press the brake pedal.
  • This could be a sign of wear on the brake pads and should be replaced. This is a standard warning sound as most modern cars are equipped with soft metal brake pads. It meets the brake disc when the pads wear out to a certain extent.

What to do: Go to a car service to inspect the brakes. In the event of a squeal during braking, lubrication will help to cope with the vibration problem.

 Screeching under the hood

If you hear a squeal when revving up or starting a cold car engine, the sound is caused by the drive belt slipping. The belt needs to be adjusted or, if worn (the side looks shiny), replaced.

What to do: Contact a car service to inspect the drive belts and replace them if necessary.

Dull thud in the engine

It may sound like tiny balls moving around inside an engine. Typically, this sound occurs when you increase the speed or when going uphill.

  • The reason for this is the use of petrol with too low octane number.
  • A dull knock can also occur on an old engine due to carbon build-up. In advanced cases, this can damage the engine.
  • The knocking noise may be caused by overheating of the machine – this is a sign of a severe problem.

What to do: Check the coolant temperature gauge:

  • When the temperature is normal, try refueling the car with the best brand of gasoline. If the sound does not disappear, check the vehicle at a car service.
  • If the temperature is high, stop and check the coolant level, but do not add coolant to the reservoir until the engine has cooled down.

Rhythmic knock

If this sound increases and decreases simultaneously as the speed of the car changes, then the reason is in the tyres – for example, a tread rubber has torn, a protrusion has formed in the sidewall, or a smooth patch of worn rubber has appeared. In this case, you can feel the vibration of the steering wheel.

What to do: Inspect your tyres as soon as possible. Rubber wear may cause the tyre to explode, replace it. A smooth worn area is not so severe, although it can annoy you. Ensure you have the corresponding tyres installed. For example, suppose you own an SUV, install them with the best SUV tyres available in your region.

Whistling under the hood

This sound is often caused by a leak in the vacuum pump system because of a crack in the hose. Or when it is disconnected. The engine may run roughly when driving or idle, and the check engine light may come on.

What to do: If the hose is detached, you can attach it yourself or contact a car service.

Grinding sound when braking

This means that you have delayed replacing the pads. The brake pads are completely worn out; their metal base is rubbing against the brake disc, which in this case also needs to be replaced. As a result, the car becomes unsafe to drive, and your bill for replacing pads has risen significantly.

What to do: Rest and request a tow truck to get the vehicle to a car service.


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