Tag Archive | "car noises"

Pointless Car Gizmo Of The Week


In these days of sophisticated car design it is still possible to see cars with what looks like a drainpipe sticking out of the back. As the car goes past it will make a noise suggesting that the vehicle has under the bonnet an engine of extreme raw power. It hasn’t. It is just noise. There are a few performance cars that offer this huge exhaust feature but mostly we’re over it.

Or so it was thought. As cars become more refined and more regulated so performance noise whether real or imagined has become frowned upon but that hasn’t stopped the customising brigade from getting up to speed with the times. Car noise can now be created digitally. It is called ‘dynamic sound technology’. Eventually even the humble city car could awaken the neighbours with a magnificent V8 bellow.

This modification from a third party developer has to be fitted when the car is built, so no after-market toy this. A speaker in the muffler portion of the exhaust pipe is linked to the car’s engine and presumably, amplified. It appears that it is even possible to download new sounds as they become available.

Renault have something like it on their Renaultsport Clio which can ape various cars from the company’s sporting past but it is only for the occupants and is not broadcast outside. Quite why an owner of this car – which is actually very good – would want to do this and drown out the stereo is unknown; but what can you do?

Engine noise has always been emotive. Keen drivers love a car that ‘sounds right’. Meanwhile manufacturers have had to develop smaller and smaller engines to meet environmental legislation and improve fuel economy which has meant that these little motors have all the volume of a library assistant with laryngitis.

Auto purists don’t like this. In a sense, quiet cars are dangerous cars because pedestrians simply can’t hear them coming. This is why similar technology is being added to electric cars for example so that they at least make minor internal combustion noises as they approach. On the other hand it isn’t much help if the sound of an approaching car makes pedestrian’s ears bleed thus causing deafness because then we’re back to square one.

It’s pointless technology. If you want to make a proper serious car noise then buy a five litre V8 supercharged Jaguar and not one that plays the ‘Ride Of The Valkries’! Yes, cars should make some noise for safety’s sake but this is just daft. It won’t be long now before a version of this factory fitted option will be available at the local car depot and then every ten year old Vauxhall Astra in the world will make our roads sound like a Formula 1 grid.

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That Mystery Noise Has Come Back Again!


These days, once you’ve discovered a reliable and trustworthy garage it pays to stick with it. Some people even become reliant on them, phoning up or visiting for every little issue, like a lonely hypochondriac at the doctor’s.

Fine, if there’s some dire mechanical fault or you are worried about poor economy then by all means pop along and get some good advice but what if it is just an irritating vibration or squeak that’s driving you mad? Garage proprietors hate these occasions and with good cause. Whilst they may well know all the cacophony of sounds that a car can make it is shockingly hard to diagnose the sound of a child’s Wellington boot trapped in the corner of the boot well.

If you persist and demand they solve the problem then they will have a fall-back position. The Chief Mechanic will be called over. He will listen to the noise. He will scratch his head, kick a tyre or two, suck air in over his teeth, ask for a clipboard and begin writing down large financial calculations which he will show you. This is designed to make you back off.

Of course, this all presupposes that your vehicle will make the noise at the right time. Certainly, it will make it all the way to the garage but, as sure as shooting, it will stop as you drive onto the forecourt. The car will behave like a malingering dog taken to the vets. It will stubbornly refuse to show any sign of a problem until you get home. Then it all begins again.

There is a solution and it is an easy one that costs you nothing – do it yourself. Here’s a true story. A driver of a well-known Japanese car is being driven crazy by a prolonged squeak – a known issue on this particular car – when he operates the clutch pedal. He goes to the garage. They apply lubricating oil to the pedal without success. In some cases with this vehicle dealers have been known to change clutch parts to resolve the problem and all the time the bill gets bigger and bigger.

As it turns out, all it involved was the act of getting down on knees and delving into the foot well whilst injecting heavy duty grease up into the area where they pedal goes through the firewall. Job done and it lasted for months before a re-application was required.

In other words, what is needed is a bit of time and perseverance. Spend time with your noise; grow to appreciate it. Crawl around the vehicle and try to isolate it in its lair. Does one action cause it and another doesn’t? Are you doing a particular function each time? More often than not the cause will come to light with just the loss of some skin off your knuckles. After all, nobody wants to pay out a large sum to have an Action Man body part removed from behind the rear seat squab!

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