Help! My vehicle is making a weird noise.

Describing your car’s weird noise to your Service Advisor.

Are you hearing a squeal, clunk, or bang coming from your vehicle? Read on to find out how to take note of these issues and describe them to our service advisors.

“My vehicle is making a weird noise!”

You know your vehicle well enough that you probably know what it sounds like when it’s running normally. So, when you hear your vehicle making a weird noise, you want to get it taken care of as soon as possible. However, sometimes finding the right words to describe the issue to our Service Advisors can be tricky. That’s why we’ve put together a list of common (and less common) car sounds that a vehicle might make, and also a guide for describing your concern to our service advisors.

Describing your concern

When you hear a strange noise, pay attention to the outside conditions. Take note of the temperature, time of day, speed of travel, etc., because knowing the conditions that cause the noise can help our Service Advisors book your vehicle in at the right time of day. For instance, if our Service Advisors know that the noise happens when you start your vehicle first thing in the morning they can have you drop the vehicle off the night before for a cold start on the day of your appointment. When a vehicle enters the shop, our technicians need to recreate the problem in order to properly diagnose and then repair the issue. Understanding the conditions that cause the noise helps the Technicians replicate it and make a diagnosis more quickly, which can ultimately save you time and money!

Now we’re speaking the same language!

See below for a job aid we use when booking appointments, because you can use it as a handy reference for describing the issue to our Service Advisors. Before you book your appointment, notice what part of the vehicle is experiencing the symptom, and the outside conditions when it occurs. How fast are you travelling? Were you making a left or right turn? Is it rainy, hot, cold? Plus, keep reading for a list of words to help you describe noises to our service advisors and technicians. And remember, when all else fails, don’t be afraid to make the noise yourself.

You can use this guide as a reference when booking your service appointment, or print it off and bring it with you to your appointment.


BACKFIRE – Similar to a gunshot sound coming from the engine or tailpipe.

BANGING – Any brief, loud and sharp sounds almost like a gun firing.

BOOM- Low resonant sound like a drum roll or distant thunder.

BUZZING – A constant, low pitched sound (like a bee) that is usually associated with vibrations. This sound can often also be felt through the steering wheel or the floor.

CHATTER– rapidly repeating metallic sound, like teeth chattering.

CHIRPING – Repetitive bird-like sounds.

CHUCKLE– A rapid noise, similar to a stick against the spokes of a bicycle.

CLANGING – A heavy sound of metal to metal, with reverberation (like a gong).

CLANKING – Another metallic sound that is more of a strike without the reverberation.

CLICKING – Light, high-frequency tapping (like the sound of a pen top being clicked, or a keyboard.)

CLUNKING – Any heavy thump or bump sound without reverberation that can often sound a little muted.

FLAPPING – Any repetitious noise that sounds like a flag in a strong wind.

GRINDING – An abrasive sound, for instance metal-on-metal or a grinding wheel.

GROANING- a continuous low pitched sound, may change tone depending on speed of the car.

GROWL- a low guttural sound, like an angry dog.

HESITATION – A brief loss of power upon acceleration.

HISSING – It sounds like air or steam escaping from somewhere.

HOWLING – A strong wind noise even if the windows are completely rolled up.

HUM- Continuous sound, although the pitch may vary.

KNOCK– a heavy, loud, repeating sounds – like someone’s fist on a door.

PINGING – A higher pitch than a knock. It can sound like someone dropping marbles into an empty can.

POPPING – Sharp, explosive sounds can be described as popping and usually aren’t as loud as banging.

RATTLING – The sound of pebbles shaking around in an empty can can be described as rattling.

ROARING – The sound a jet makes when it accelerates to take off. A deep & prolonged sound.

RUMBLING – A low, continuous sound, like far away thunder.

SCRAPING – Usually a high-pitched, metallic sort of noise that speeds up as the vehicle speeds up.

SCREECHING – A high pitched noise like the bad guy’s tires in a cops-and-robbers chase.

SQUEAKING- Also a high-pitched sound sound like an old swing set, or a door hinge that needs grease, or Styrofoam pieces rubbing together.

SQUEALING – High-pitched and long lasting.

TAPPING – A heavier noise than a click but similar, like tapping on a board with a hammer.

WHINING – A drawn out higher-pitched noise that usually changes with engine speed.

WHIRING- A high pitched, buzzing sound- like an electric drill or motor.

WHISTLING – Shrill, loud, high-pitched noise.

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