Categorized | Auto Blog

Dad – What’s That Noise?

Dad – What’s That Noise?

It is one of the great truisms of life that, when transporting the mother-in-law in the family car, she can always smell petrol and becomes convinced that she is about to be consumed by fire. Thereafter she will always smell petrol when riding with you, even on a tandem bike. Similarly, no one can be an experienced driver and not have had a relative in the car who asks about a curious noise that the driver had been studiously ignoring in the forlorn hope that it would go away.

The fact is a car will always tell you when something is wrong; mostly only after it is too late admittedly, but it will speak up for itself. Funny noises or smells, irksome rattling and general auto dyspepsia means the car needs at best a service and at worst, radical surgery. As we head into another delightful motoring Summer maybe it is time to investigate any strange automotive phenomena fully before that big family holiday and that big breakdown (see gratuitously posed image).

It’s a known fact that a percentage of car accidents are caused by some failure on the car, usually tyres or brakes but other parts like suspension or steering could be at fault. Listen to the car and try to grasp what it is telling you. For example, a growling noise that changes in pitch could well be a wheel bearing and it is essential this is dealt with immediately. A competent home mechanic should be able to handle this job.

A mysterious creaking or a nagging whine could be a track rod (part of the steering) or maybe a ball joint. Either way they are signals that something is not right and needs attention. A high-pitched squealing – assuming it isn’t children – will possibly be brake related. Hissing, after the car has been shut down, could subsequently result in smoke or steam issuing from under the bonnet. That can’t be right.

It is not always easy to diagnose a car. Groaning could be suspension and a loud humming noise could be a faulty or worn tyre and so on. The trick is not to simply turn up the stereo and hope for the best but rather to stop and investigate. The fault may not be apparent but it is a fairly safe bet that it’s there. Home mechanics have an ear for this sort of thing but when in doubt consult your local friendly garage.

Over the years the staff will have become experts in assessing the many and varied car impersonations that customers make. They can solve all dilemmas just by kicking the tyres and writing down large numbers with pound signs in front of them. Be pro-active, make sure the car gets its regular service on time and in full. Good dealers should always check over a car for safety’s sake. The car is used to transport the family and it is the driver’s job to keep them safe. Even the mother-in-law.

This post was written by:

- who has written 474 posts on Motor Blogger.

Geoff is a freelance writer and photographer.

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