Those Mysterious Automotive Knocking Noises

Those Mysterious Automotive Knocking Noises

No one can be an experienced driver and not have had a relative or friend in the car who asks about a curious knocking noise that the driver had been studiously ignoring in the forlorn hope that it would go away.

The fact is, a car will always tell you when something is wrong; mostly only after it is too late admittedly, but it will speak up for itself. Funny noises or smells, irksome rattling and general automotive dyspepsia means the car needs at best a service and at worst, radical surgery. Time to call in your local servicing garage.

Lock-down has kept us all at home for now, but with the government slowly relaxing restrictions and recommending we take our holidays in the UK to support the economy, then maybe now is the right time to investigate any issues fully before that much needed vacation. Servicing garages are open for business now and, incidentally, are ready to advise on the latest changes to the vehicle inspections as the current ‘holiday’ for MOT tests, which is coming to an end.

It’s No Accident

It’s a known fact that a percentage of car accidents are caused by some failure on the car, usually tyres or brakes, but other parts like suspension or steering could be at fault. Any strange knocking noises, for example, should be investigated immediately. Listen to the car and try to grasp what it is saying. For example, a growling or knocking noise that changes in pitch could well be a wheel bearing and it is essential this is dealt with immediately. Obviously all cars make noises but it’s the ones that suddenly occur or are intermittent that drivers should worry about.

Three Knocking Noises

Many components on a vehicle can make noises when faulty but, specifically, knocking noises are usually associated with brakes, steering or suspension. Steering ball joints are a case in point: The wheels and tyres are attached to the suspension system by ball joints, enabling the wheels to turn. If a ball joint is severely worn out, damaged or broken (and our potholed roads don’t help in this regard) a knocking noise may be heard as the vehicle turns. This is not a job that can wait until later.

Suspension is crucial for a comfortable ride and as an aid to handling and stability. It is also an area of the motor that takes a beating and it is vital that these components are tip-top. It’s for reasons like this that we have mandatory vehicle testing. Owners will likely know when suspension parts are failing because a knocking noise will be heard, especially on rough roads or over the ubiquitous potholes.

Damaged wheels, possibly through hitting kerbs and the like or with suspect tyres, are a potential source of knocking noises. When new tyres are fitted wheels are checked and aligned for smooth running. Any impact will possibly cause those wheels to be out of true and the result can be, that’s right, a knocking noise. Drivers will also hear it if wheel nuts are loose, after an emergency wheel change for example.

Get It Checked!

In the same way a small child cannot tell the concerned parent what exactly is wrong, so it is not always easy to diagnose a car, particularly if the sound is hard to pinpoint. Groaning also could be suspension and a loud humming noise could be a faulty or worn tyre and so on. What you should not do is turn up the infotainment volume and hope for the best, but rather stop and investigate. The fault may not be apparent but it is a fairly safe bet that it’s there. If in doubt consult your local friendly garage.

It’s a tradition. Over the years vehicle technicians will have become experts in assessing the many and varied car noise impersonations that customers attempt to try and resolve the mystery. The solution to avoiding knocking noises and general car problems is of course to make sure the car gets its regular service on time and in full. Remember, that car may well be used to transport the family and it is the driver’s job to keep them safe. Maintenance is vital so don’t knock it.

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