When it comes to identifying issues with your car, using all of your senses is a must. Car issues can show themselves in many ways, with the odours and visual signs the first things even drivers with limited maintenance knowledge notice. How a car drives can also point to further technical issues that need repairing right away. Keeping an ear out for unusual noises is another way to pinpoint when something isn’t right with your vehicle, but which strange noises shouldn’t you ignore and what could they mean.
A humming or groaning noise may point to an issue with your tyres. Over time, tyres experience natural wear and tear. Whilst altering your speed and driving style can take you so far in limiting tyre damage, every tyre has a life span. A persistent humming or groaning sound is often the first sign of tyre wear, but to confirm that it’s your tyres that are the noisy culprit, it’s recommended you conduct other checks.
You should check your tyre tread on a regular basis. In fact, experts advise checking tyre tread every fortnight and after particularly long car journeys. The 20p test is the most commonly used method of checking tread. Simply insert the 20p coin into one of the grooves, if the outer band of the coin cannot be seen your tyres are above the legal limit. The legal tread depth for UK car tyres is 1.6mm. Drivers of cars with tyre treads below this not only put themselves and their passengers at serious risk but face a £2,500 fine and three penalty points per tyre if caught out. If you’ve just had your tyres changed don’t rule out wear. Premature wear is common and should be checked.
The sound of grinding metal could indicate a vast range of issues. Your vehicle’s brakes and suspension can produce unpleasant, loud grinding noises when a problem is present. Whilst your vehicle’s powertrain may also produce a grinding noise when in need of repair. Your car should be checked by a professional immediately if it emits a grinding noise.
Does your vehicle squeak when in use? If the answer is “yes”, your brakes could be to blame. The squeak accompanying damaged or worn brakes tends to be high pitched and steady, particularly if it’s time to change your brake pads. Don’t ignore this squeaking noise for too long. Your brake pads have a vital part to play, and need to be in tip top condition to successfully slow down your vehicle and bring it safely to a stop. The condition of your brake pads can impact stopping distance, which means your car may take longer to come to a halt if for any reason you need to stop your vehicle abruptly.
Whilst there are no hard and fast rules regarding their lifespan, brake pads tend to last around 50,000 miles. Where you drive, how many passengers you carry, the amount of miles you drive and the type of brake pad installed can all make this lifespan higher or lower. Squeaking isn’t the only noise that could indicate worn brake pads. Screeching and grinding may accompany brake pads in need of replacement, with the latter likely if the pads have been worn down completely. Other warning signs that your brake pads need replacing are the presence of a warning light, your vehicle may also pull to one side.
Hissing sounds coming from under the bonnet are particularly common during the summer months thanks to our vehicle’s cooling systems having to work that bit harder. If the noise is being emitted after the ignition has been switched off and smoke or mist is also present, your radiator, clutch fan, electric fan or hose may need attention.
Is your car making strange noises? Have your vehicle checked out by our team, sort the underlying issue before it becomes a problem and enjoy a more peaceful, pleasant ride sooner than you think.