Buy-a-Car Tips

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Buy a Car - 7 Sounds of Serious Car Talk

Are you a born mechanic?  I congratulate you.  Personally, I drove my first car for years without even knowing how to raise the hood.

If you’re like me and have no clue about the inside workings of automobiles and such, take heart.  You can actually tell a lot by what your car says.

Yep.  Those squeaks, squeals, rattles, and rumbles offer valuable clues about problems and maintenance needs.

Scenario One
Your car squeals at you.  A shrill, sharp noise, (mostly related to engine speed) can indicate loose or worn power steering, fan or air conditioning belt.   Loose car parts are not good news.  Take your car in for a look-over.

Scenario Two
Your car makes a clicking sound.  In this case, you might have a loose wheel cover, or a loose or bent fan blade.   Don’t try beating the dashboard to see if the problem goes away.  Remember the loose car part warning above.

A clicking noise may also mean you have a stuck valve lifter or low engine oil.

Scenario Three
Your car screeches.  Piercing metallic sounds can be caused by brake wear indicators to let you know it's time for maintenance.   Sometimes brakes will squeal, even when they’re in okay shape.  Go ahead and get it checked out, though.  You want your brakes in top condition all the time.


Scenario Four
Your car makes a low rumbling noise.   This could mean something’s up with your exhaust pipe, converter or muffler.

Scenario Five
Your car has a high-pitched pinging sound.  This is usually caused by using gas with a lower octane rating than recommended. Check your owner's manual for the proper octane rating. If the pinging continues, engine ignition timing may be the issue.

Scenario Six
Your car has a rhythmic pounding sound.  This could indicate a worn crankshaft or connecting rod bearings.   Or maybe a loose transmission torque converter.

Scenario Seven
Your car makes a thumping sound now and again.  In this case, you might be dealing with a loose shock absorber or other suspension component.   There might also be a loose exhaust pipe or muffler.

Basically, if your car is saying anything other than a pleasant “hum”, you could be in hot water.  Get it checked out right away.  And casually ask, “I was wondering if maybe I had a loose transmission torque converter…” – just to see what look the mechanic gives you.

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