San Francisco Automotive Solutions

San Francisco Automotive Solutions

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What's That Strange Noise Coming from My Car?

We've all been there. We turn our car on in the morning or we're driving down the road and we hear some really strange noise—or sometimes a few different noises. The vehicle seems to be driving normally, so it's more of an annoyance than a concern at first. Eventually, that sound gets louder and more unpleasant. How far must it go before you finally decide to go get your car checked out by a mechanic?

The fact is that any unusual noise that is coming from your vehicle should catch your attention. It means that something isn't right. In many cases, it's a minor issue like worn brake pads or a loose fan belt. In other cases, it could be something much more serious. Either way, it's always a good idea to get it looked at by an expert before it develops into a major automotive problem that will threaten your safety as a driver and cost you a lot to repair.

Here are some of the most common causes of nasty vehicle noises, according to the Bay Area auto repair specialists at San Francisco Automotive Solutions:


Your brakes are definitely the most common culprit for screeches, squeaks and squeals. Usually, these sounds indicate that your brake pads are low and should probably be replaced. Sometimes, it can also signify that your rotors are worn or there is some other sort of friction issue worth getting looked at by a professional mechanic.

Exhaust System

Rattles, hisses and vibrations are commonly associated with exhaust system issues such as catalytic converter failure. You may also hear pops and backfiring, which could mean there is an exhaust leak or a problem with the muffler. 


Fan belts and timing belts are sensitive. The rubber can wear out, they can start to slip if moisture gets in or a fray/tear in the belt can cause issues. Sometimes they just get off-kilter and need to be adjusted. A high-pitched squealing noise when you turn the vehicle on or as you are driving is a good indicator that one of your belts may be loose or ready for replacement.


Grinding gears and loud clunks are typically associated with transmission problems, which may include issues with the torque converter or clutch assembly or something wrong inside the transmission housing itself. Any transmission concerns should not be taken lightly because your car won't move if the transmission fails and transmission repairs can be expensive.


Tires tend to get a little squeaky either when they are brand new or when the tread is getting dangerously low. If you just installed new tires, expect some squeaks at low speeds or when turning. If your tires are old, these noises may be telling you it's time to replace them.


Last but certainly not least, the engine can be the source for problematic sounds. Backfiring, rattling and other noises may be coming from the engine. In most cases, it's something other than the engine. That's why it's so important to have an automotive technician identify the specific issue and repair it properly. For example, if it's something in your exhaust system that's wrong, it's better to fix it as soon as you can rather than letting it turn into a major internal engine problem.

These are just some of the most common culprits when it comes to strange noises coming from your vehicle. If you hear something odd, don't ignore it. Bring your car into San Francisco Automotive Solutions for a complete inspection and quality auto repairs. 

Call San Francisco Automotive Solutions today at (415) 957-1170 or schedule your service appointment online.


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