Noise is a normal part of every car journey, even on the best driving roads in Shropshire with a number of external factors, including uneven roads, wind and debris on the road surface, responsible for causing a variety of sounds to which you quickly become accustomed as you drive. However, some sounds should alert you to a mechanical problem that may exist with your car, especially if they occur when you are performing certain manoeuvres such as cornering, accelerating or braking.
Pretending that you haven’t heard a sound, or turning up the radio to blot it out, is not going to make it go away. Any delay could cause a problem to worsen, potentially setting you up for a more costly repair bill, or even rendering your vehicle unsafe to drive.
While there are a wide variety of noises that could be symptomatic of a mechanical defect affecting your car, the following three have the potential to produce expensive repairs bills or place your vehicle in danger:
Grinding when changing gear.
Gear changing should be smooth, effortless and silent, so a grinding noise is not an encouraging sign as it suggests the gears are wearing. It is always worth checking if the transmission oil needs topping up or replacing – check for particles in the oil on the dipstick or any sign of burning as this will mean a transmission oil change is necessary.
However, grinding when changing gears can indicate that the components in the transmission are worn and a new gearbox might be the only solution. Early intervention is necessary, partly to prevent a total breakdown at the roadside, but also to ensure the safety of you and your passengers.
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Groaning or squealing when steering.
A groaning or squealing sound that you notice when you steer your vehicle could be a sign that the power steering pump is failing. The pump is an essential part of the power steering system, providing the hydraulic power to pump power steering fluid at high pressure in response to the speed of the vehicle, enabling you to steer effortlessly around bends and corners.
Signs that the power steering pump is faulty should always be taken seriously; if left unchecked, your car’s steering could fail altogether. For this reason, any groaning or squealing that is apparent when you steer should result in you stopping your car immediately and seeking professional advice.
Squealing and grinding when braking.
Squealing and grinding noises that you hear when braking represent two levels of seriousness – the latter probably occurring if you choose to ignore the earliest warning signs (and bumping up the cost of repairs in the process).
A squeal that occurs only when you brake for the first few times after setting off on a journey may indicate nothing more serious than a little rust or debris in your brakes. However, a squeal that persists could mean your brake pads have worn down to the point that the metallic structure of the pads are causing friction against the brake discs. This is a warning sign that the brake pads need renewing urgently.
A grinding noise when you brake is more serious as it suggests the brake discs have become damaged as a result of worn brake pads, meaning replacement is almost certain – and multiplying the repair bill in the process.
While replacing your car’s brakes isn’t the most expensive repair it can undergo, failure to take heed of the warning sounds could prove to be costly in other ways, given the importance of the braking system to your safety.
Of course, the prudent step as a responsible car owner is to seek professional advice from your nearest JT Hughes dealership as soon as you become aware of an unusual sound, so your vehicle can be booked in for examination – if only to offer you peace of mind.