“Rattle Rattle Thunder Clatter” – Sounds Your Car Is Making and What to Do About Them

Most of us have experienced a curious sound coming from our vehicle. It is always a little nerve-racking, as some sounds can be indicators of serious problems, while others have simple fixes. Responding appropriately to the sounds your car makes can prevent problems from worsening, thus saving you a significant amount of money. The following explains what each sound means and what you can do to get rid of it.

The first part of diagnosing a noise-related problem is to determine where it is originating. Then establish when the noise occurs and how your car behaves when the noise starts. Finally, take your car into a professional mechanic and explain what your car is experiencing.

Backfire loud bang– This can be caused by an uneven air-fuel mixture or incorrect engine timing (slipped timing belt).
Chirping or squealing while accelerating– Loose, slipping belts are typically the cause of such a sound.
Clicking or tapping in your engine– The most common reason for this sound is low oil. If your oil level is good, there could be a loss of oil pressure.
Flapping– This may be a belt that is decaying or something is interfering with one of the fans.
Hissing or sizzling under the hood– If you hear this right when the engine is turned off, something is probably leaking. Any fluid that leaks under the hood hisses or sizzles when it touches the hot equipment around it.
Humming or whirring under your car– This type of sound is difficult to pinpoint because of the echoes and reverberations of the parts underneath your vehicle. A mechanic will have to diagnose it.
Knocking in your engine– This can be caused by using an incorrect fuel or oil grade. Always be sure to follow the correct oil, gasoline, and tire air pressure guidelines in your owner’s manual.
Noise from the front end while steering– May indicate bearing failure or steering linkage wear.
Popping in your engine– Potential problems include a clogged fuel filter or ignition or spark plug problems, especially if the engine misfires with the pop.
Rattling from under your car– This can be caused by loose parts such as your exhaust system.
Squealing wheels while braking– Causes range from small, such as dirt on the brake pads or rotors, to serious, such as worn pads. Brake noises are safety issues and require immediate attention.
Scraping or grinding while braking– If the squealing has gotten worse and now sounds like a scraping sound, this means your brake pads are completely worn down or close to it. This causes damage each time you apply the brakes.
Thumping on hard acceleration– May be felt through the steering wheel or floor & can be caused by broken engine or transmission mounts.
Whining– This sound usually indicates excessive transmission wear.

Each of the sounds outlined above may indicate serious problems. By identifying the what, when, and where of the sound(s), you can have the right conversation with your mechanic and prevent a small problem from growing larger and more expensive.

Does anyone else remember the old “Rattle Rattle Thunder Clatter” commercials?

Find my Young Driver – New Tracking Technology and Possible Privacy Concerns

Have you ever wished you could control how fast your teen drives? Or could find out where they are REALLY going when they say they’re “going to a friend’s”? As automobile technology continues to advance, these types of features are appearing more and more in new vehicles. There are a few different systems, but they all allow some sort of added control and monitoring of the vehicle.

Ford MyKey – This is a vehicle security system that is contained in the key itself. As with most of these programs, it is targeted to parents looking to monitor their young driver(s). MyKey is now a standard feature in Ford models. It allows parents to control the speed of the vehicle and audio volume, mute audio when seatbelts are not buckled, and starting with the 2012 Ford Explorer, send all incoming calls and texts for later review.

Hyundai Blue Link – Hyundai’s Blue Link technology also offers parental control features. Geo-Fence allows parents to set geographic parameters for the vehicle that, if violated, will result in the parent being alerted. Curfew alerts and speed alerts are also offered, which warn parents when a set curfew or speed limit is surpassed. Blue Link is now available in all Hyundai vehicles.

OnStar Family Link – Created for parents who want to know where their young drivers go, Family Link provides a Vehicle Locate feature that tracks the vehicle at all times. By logging into the OnStar Family Link website, parents can see the real-time location of all the connected vehicles. They can also receive Vehicle Location Alerts via email or text at intervals of their choice that provide the location of each vehicle. Features such as speed monitoring or geo-fencing are not currently offered.

The response to these types of programs has been mixed. Ford has said its market research shows 75 percent of parents like speed and audio limits, but, as can be expected, 67 percent of teens find them intrusive. The technology has also been seen as a way to increase freedom for young drivers, since parents have more control over their safety than before. According to a survey by Harris Interactive, if using such technology would lead to greater driving privileges, only 36 percent of teens are against it. As with any privacy-related innovation, the tools have been cause for some backlash from young drivers and organizations interested in individual civil liberties. But for the most part people are finding the technology helpful and a way to keep their children safe…and who can argue with that?