When you turn on your car, you expect to hear the thrum of your engine waking up. But wait – what’s that rattle? And where is it coming from? A rattling noise can sound frightening, but it doesn’t always mean something catastrophic is about to happen. Here are the top reasons your car is rattling.
The Top Reasons Your Car is Rattling
1. Problems with the catalytic converter
If your rattling noise is coming from the back of your vehicle, it’s possible that there is a problem with the catalytic converter. This component is attached to your tailpipe and is responsible for helping keep your car operate normally.
Sometimes, whether due to age or a particularly hard knock on the road, your catalytic converter can get damaged. In these cases, the ‘catalyst’ inside the converter, which looks like a honeycomb structure, gets knocked loose. The end result? A rattle.
In addition to causing a pesky rattling noise, problems with your catalytic converter can impact your fuel consumption, decrease your fuel efficiency, increase emissions released by your car, and can even cause your car to fail its annual emissions test. It’s important to have this problem looked at by a mechanic as soon as possible.
2. Give me a brake… rattle
If you hear your car rattling when you apply the brakes, it’s possible that your brakes are worn down. The contact of metal on metal can cause that unwanted noise.
If you’re hearing sounds from your brakes when your car is stationary, it’s possible that you have broken and/or missing brake pad anti-rattle clips. These clips, as you might guess, prevent your brake pads from rattling when not in use.
Cheap brake pads are another possible culprit. Cheap pads are not only less predictable when it comes to how much pressure you need to apply to stop your car, they wear out faster and can cause that rattle.
3. Suspend your disbelief – about your suspension
Your suspension is an intricate, interwoven system that keeps you comfortable whether you’re driving in the city or on a dirt road. If you notice that your rattling is coming from your wheel wells, part of your suspension system may be the culprit.
This could include:
- Worn out shock absorbers
- Worn out suspension struts
- Loose sway bar link
- Loose or worn cushions (aka bushings)
- Damages to the suspension system
It can be hard to diagnose this issue on your own, but a certified mechanic can quickly get to the bottom of a rattle in your suspension system.
4. Your oil is low
Low oil is a potentially serious problem that can cause a rattle in your engine. Rattling from low oil happens because there isn’t enough lubrication between the components. If your oil gets too low, it can actually cause your engine to lock up, meaning costly damages – or worse, an unsalvageable engine.
If you’re hearing rattling, it’s easy to check your oil levels with the dipstick in your engine. Just make sure that your car is cold while you perform this test! If your oil is very low, you can always add oil (just make sure it’s the right type.
However, if the problem persists, it’s important to visit your mechanic to find out why your oil keeps running low.
5. You’re burning the wrong type of fuel
Fuel is fuel, right, and those numbers at the pump are just so the gas station can charge more? Well, not exactly. The ‘octane’ of your fuel really does matter. Some cars can burn anything, but others are specifically designed to burn high-octane fuel.
If you have a car in which high-octane fuel is recommended and you’re putting in the cheapest stuff at the gas station, stop. Your car isn’t designed to burn low-octane fuel, and your car is rattling because of a phenomenon known as ‘pinging’. This noise may be the result of carbon deposits, ignition timing problems, or overheating.
Low-octane fuel in a high-octane engine can significantly shorten the lifespan of your vehicle, so make sure you’re putting in the minimum recommended octane gas for your car.
Diagnose Your Mystery Car Rattle At T3 Atlanta
Just because your car is rattling isn’t always a bad thing, but it can certainly be frustrating! T3 Atlanta can help diagnose the source of the noise in your car and restore your car cabin to blissful silence. We can also help keep your car on its regular maintenance schedule and perform comprehensive repairs on car problems. Give us a call today at our Smyrna or Decatur location, and we’ll help keep your car in top condition!