My Car is Making a Loud Noise – What’s Causing it?

by | May 6, 2014 | Auto Questions

Loud vehicle noises were once a common concern for drivers. Suddenly their cars would begin to sound very loud. People would tell us:

“My car sounds like a Mack truck;” or “My car is making a loud noise, and it’s even worse going up hills”.

Exhaust systems on vehicles produced in the last 15 years have gotten much better. Some last well over 100,000 miles without causing any concerns, but every now and then a customer comes in with a loud noise problem.  When we ride with them for a test drive we can hear an exhaust noise.

In this video, you can hear the before and after of an exhaust leak on a Delorean.

Most of the time exhaust noises are noticed by automotive technicians when they are performing a pre-preventive maintenance road test. Once the road test has been completed and the vehicle is placed on a lift for inspection, the technician can check for any signs of the exhaust leaking.

A suddenly occuring exhaust noise is often related to a driver hitting something while on the road that causes damage to the exhaust system.  Rust can also be a culprit.  In the latter instance, a driver can notice the noise getting progressively worse as the problem progresses.

The parts of the exhaust system that can be damaged resulting in a loud noise include:

  • Manifold
  • Pre-catalytic converter 
  • Front pipe
  • Catalytic converter
  • Intermediate exhaust pipe
  • Front muffler
  • Rear exhaust pipe
  • Rear muffler

Loud noises caused by damage to any of these parts would require replacement of the part.

The exhaust system is sealed together by the use of exhaust flanges, gaskets and clamps, and it is hung by various mounts and brackets.  If some of the brackets or clamps are loose it can result in a rattling noise which can be annoying, though typically not as loud as the noise caused by a hole in the exhaust system.

Notably, some performance vehicles have dual exhaust systems which can result in a louder exhaust noise.

Finally one safety point you should note… if you do hear a loud noise and you suspect it is the exhaust system, be sure to keep fresh air coming into the vehicle, and do not sit in the car while it’s idling. If there is a leak, carbon monoxide can get into the interior of the car.  It is a very dangerous gas. There is no distinguishing odor, and it is easy to be over come by it.

Think you might need to get your exhaust system checked out?  Give us a call at 410.381.2700 or make an appointment by clicking below.


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About the Author

About Brian England

Brian England, the current president of BA Auto Care (formerly British American Auto Care), got his start with an auto apprenticeship in a small town in northwest of London. He came to the U.S. in 1972 to work for a Land Rover dealer in Rockville, MD. A few years later, he started British American Auto Care with his wife, Jennifer. Brian is a big believe in preventative maintenance, and his philosophy is to encourage and educate drivers on the benefits of a regular maintenance plan.