10 common car noises and what they mean

By Adam White

We've all been there; you’re driving along minding your own business when your car starts to make a strange noise. You turn off the radio to hear it more clearly, is it a rumble, a clunk, a squeak?

Driving a car

Whatever it is, your car is probably trying to tell you that something is wrong, so here’s our guide to some of the most common car noises and what they might mean.

1. Tyre noise

Tyres naturally make some noise as they roll along the road, although premium brands, such as; Pirelli, can be quieter than mid-range and budget tyres. If you have a rumbling or thudding noise from your tyres, it could be a sign that they are under-inflated or that you have a puncture.

2. Squeaky brakes

This is usually a sign that your brake pads are worn and that they need to be replaced with new ones. Why not book your vehicle in for a free brake check at your local Protyre garage.

3. Roaring or growling

These noises from under the car usually indicate a problem with the exhaust, often a broken joint or a hole in the silencer. Book your vehicle in for a free exhaust check and let our highly-trained technicians check your exhaust for any issues.

4. Clanking underneath

If, in addition to the growling, there’s a clanking noise coming from beneath the car, it often means that part of the exhaust has dropped and is hitting the road. This is potentially dangerous and you should get this fixed urgently before it causes more damage.

5. Groaning steering

If your car groans when you turn the wheel, it’s usually an indicator of an issue with the power steering. Something could be rubbing or the fluid level may need topping up. At Protyre, we offer a number of free checks to keep your vehicle healthy, including free steering checks.

6. Squeaking clutch

A short squeak when you engage the clutch as you move off usually indicates wear. You might be able to live with this for a while, but if you notice a change in the pedal feel too, you should get it looked at straight away.

7. Startup squeal

If you get a long squealing sound, particularly when starting the car from cold, it is likely that one or more of the engine belts is worn and is slipping. You need to get this attended to before the belt breaks and potentially damages the engine. Why not book your vehicle in for a free safety check at your local Protyre garage? Our expert technicians will carry out a 6-Point Check covering your car's lights, wiper blades, oil level, tyre condition, battery health and also includes a windscreen wash top up if required.

8. Suspension clunks

If you get a clunk from the suspension when driving over bumps or speed humps, it will probably be because of a worn shock absorber or other suspension parts. It’s important to get this fixed before it starts to affect the car’s handling. Protyre offer free suspension checks at many of our garages - why not book your vehicle in at your local Protyre garage and let our technicians

9. Clickety click

If that’s the only noise you hear when you turn the ignition key, it is likely that your battery is flat. Modern batteries are sealed for life and last a long time but they do fail eventually, especially if subjected to a life of cold starts and short journeys. Why not book your vehicle in for a free battery check and let our expert technicians examine the condition of your battery and advise on the next steps.

10. Whining and droning

If you notice noises like this as you’re driving along, they may be a sign of a worn wheel bearing. If left unattended for too long, this can lead to the bearing failing completely.
Have you noticed a noise and want it investigated more thoroughly? Why not book your car into your local Protyre garage and our qualified fitters will be happy to have a listen and give you advice.

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About the author

Article Author Photo
By Adam White
Adam looks to create engaging and informative content across the website that provides consumers with expert advice on MOTs, servicing, vehicle maintenance and tyre care. As a motorsport enthusiast, Adam enjoys documenting the Protyre Motorsport team’s involvement in major motorsport events across the UK.
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