Hearing unexplained noises from your car can be troubling, especially when you don't know a lot about vehicle mechanics. The good news is that most every sound you hear from your vehicle will have an explainable source, and you can often narrow down the source of the problem when you understand what different sounds mean. Here's a look at what you need to know if you're hearing a rattle from your car.
Narrowing Down The Location Of The Source
Before you can determine what's causing the rattle, you need to try to isolate where you're hearing it from. After all, a rattle from the front end will have a much different cause than a rattle in the rear.
Listen to the rattle carefully and try to discern where it's coming from. If it sounds like it's coming from the front end, see if you can isolate which side it's on. You should also note whether it gets louder or changes as your vehicle changes speed.
Addressing A Rattle In The Front End
If you're only hearing the sound in the front end of your car when you hit bumps and you don't tend to hear any noise at higher speeds, there's a good chance that it's caused by the failure of a drop link on your sway bar.
If you can isolate the sound to your front wheel well on one side or the other, you may find that you have a strut or shock that's failing. Sometimes, the rattle is caused by worn out bushings, bad sway bar links, or other suspension component problems.
You'll need to have your front suspension examined by a car repair technician. He or she can isolate the suspension component that's causing the issue and replace or reinforce it.
Isolating A Rattle In The Rear End
If the sound seems like it's coming from the rear of the vehicle, there's a bit more troubleshooting to do. You'll need to figure out if it's coming from anywhere near the center of the vehicle or further toward the rear.
In the center of the vehicle, or toward the front, it may be that the catalytic converter is failing. In other cases, if the noise is coming from the center toward the rear, it could be the heat shield. Heat shields are thin sheets of metal placed between the exhaust system and the underside of the car. They block the heat from the exhaust system. When the holes rust out, the heat shield can fall and rattle against the exhaust.
In other cases, you may find that an exhaust hanger has been knocked loose, allowing your car's exhaust system to rattle when your car is moving. Exhaust hangers secure the exhaust system in place, so you'll want to replace a loose exhaust hanger right away.
Talk with a car repair technician near you today for more help.