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7 Scary Car Noises and What They Really Mean in Louisiana and Alabama

car pulled over on side of road with hood up

If you want to become a smarter and safer driver, it’s crucial to understand the kinds of noises your car can make and what they mean. More importantly, when can you keep driving and when do you need to pull over and get roadside assistance

Even when you’re on top of maintaining your vehicle, the truth is that cars can be unpredictable. Out of nowhere, you might hear strange noises from your car — noises that can sound disturbing or downright scary. 

In this article, we’ll walk you through seven scary car noises, what they really mean, and what you should do when you hear them. 

1. Clicking 

If you try to start your car and hear nothing except clicking, it means your battery is drained and doesn’t have enough charge to start the engine. 

There are a couple of reasons why your battery is drained. First, you may have drained the battery by leaving the headlights, radio, or AC on for too long while the car was off. Second, your battery could simply be worn out and in need of replacement. Or it could be that there’s something wrong with your alternator, which is the component that recharges your battery while your car is running. 

What to Do When You Hear It 

If you hear this sound, then chances are that you’re not going anywhere. Call a friend or roadside assistance service to help jump-start your car to get it home or to the nearest car garage. A mechanic can help determine exactly what the problem is and replace the battery or alternator as needed. 

2. Squealing From Under the Hood 

Squealing from under the hood typically comes from your engine’s drive belt. Your car’s drive belt transmits power from the engine to essential components such as the alternator (the device that charges up your battery) as well as the power steering and AC systems. As the drive belt wears down, it begins to slip, which is what causes the loud squealing sound. Typically, the sound will be at its loudest when you first start your car. 

caucasian woman on phone with hood up on car

What to Do When You Hear It 

While it’s normal for your drive belt to become worn, it’s very important that you fix it as soon as possible. In the worst case, the drive belt can snap, which means you’ll very quickly lose important safety and power systems while driving. 

3. Squealing From the Wheels 

While squealing from under the hood indicates a problem with the drive belt, squealing from the wheels is something else entirely. It could be that your brake pads are not releasing properly. As you drive around, the excessive friction and heat on the pads cause the squealing sound, especially in the rainy weather common in Louisiana and Alabama.. 

Another possibility is that your brake pads are about to wear out. Many brake pad manufacturers intentionally design their brake pads to squeal after a certain percentage of the pad has worn out. So, while the brake pads will continue to function normally, it’s a clear signal that you need to head to the mechanic to replace your brakes sooner rather than later. 

What to Do When You Hear It 

Faulty and worn brakes are no joke. When you hear squealing from your wheels, head to a mechanic or car garage as soon as possible to get your brakes checked and repaired or replaced. 

4. Knocking 

If you hear knocking from the engine, especially while accelerating, it usually means that your car has the wrong type of fuel. Fuel requirements are usually given as a minimum octane number. While most vehicles work just fine on regular fuel (octane number 87), cars with premium or supercharged engines require higher-quality fuel (octane number 91 or higher) to run properly. 

What to Do When You Hear It 

Check the owner’s manual of your car to see what type of fuel is recommended and make sure that’s what you are choosing the next time you’re at the pump. 

If you are using the right type of fuel and still hear knocking, then it’s time to see a mechanic who can look into the problem further. 

5. Gurgling 

If you hear gurgling or bubbling coming from under the hood after your turn off your car, chances are that it’s coming from your cooling system’s expansion tank, which helps keep your car from overheating while driving. 

What to Do When You Hear It 

While this usually isn’t an issue if you hear it once or twice, you should get your cooling system checked by a mechanic if you consistently hear gurgling every time you turn off your car. It can get pretty hot in Louisiana and Alabama during the summer months, and you’ll need your car’s cooling system to be in good working shape. 

6. Whistling 

If you hear a whistling sound inside the cabin while you’re driving, it could mean that one of your windows is slightly open or that there’s a leak in the rubber strip around one of your car doors. 

If you hear whistling from under the hood, then it likely means that there’s a problem with a vacuum hose. Several critical systems in your car use vacuum hoses, including your power brakes, so it’s important to get this looked at quickly. 

What to Do When You Hear It 

For whistling inside the cabin, first check that all of your windows can fully close. If you still hear whistling, you probably need to seal or replace the rubber strip around one of your doors. 

For whistling under the hood, get your car checked by a mechanic who can replace the vacuum hose. 

7. Grinding 

If you have a manual transmission and hear grinding while changing gears, it usually means that the clutch is worn or needs to be adjusted. 

If you hear or feel grinding while braking, it usually means that your brakes are worn to the point that the brake calipers are directly touching the wheel rotor. There’s a possibility that the rotor and/or calipers are damaged. 

What to Do When You Hear It 

For grinding while changing gears, make your way to a mechanic as soon as possible. 

If you hear grinding while braking, then your car’s braking system might fail at any time, and it’s no longer safe to drive. Pull over immediately and have a roadside assistance service tow your car to the nearest mechanic. 

Don’t Get Caught Without Roadside Assistance 

If you suddenly hear a scary noise coming from your car, the most important thing is not to panic. In most cases, it makes sense to pull over as soon as it’s safe and call a roadside assistance service to take your car to the nearest mechanic to make sure everything is OK with your vehicle. 

If you don’t already have a roadside assistance plan, the great news is that roadside assistance is more affordable than you think. We offer cheap roadside assistance in Alabama and Louisiana to make sure you’re never stranded anywhere, anytime. Get a roadside assistance quote online now, visit one of our offices or call us at (800) 420 -3712 today.