All vehicles make a sound. Listen closely to a Toyota Prius and you’ll hear the tyres moving on the asphalt and the gentle hum of the electric motor. What you need to do as a car owner is to make sure that your car is making the right kinds of sounds and how to recognise the bad kind.
To begin with and most common in Malaysia, are squeals from your car. There are two areas you hear squeals from; the tyres and the engine. For tyre squeals, several things can cause this. If you hear squealing only during braking, especially light braking, it's probably caused by a vibration at the brake pads. Squealing doesn't affect your braking performance and, while it's annoying, it is usually nothing to worry about. It can happen even with new pads.
If you hear a similar high-pitched squeal from the brakes while the car is moving but it stops when you step on the brake pedal, it can be a sign that your brake pads have worn down and need changing soon. It is a normal warning sound, because most of today's cars have a soft-metal tab on the brake pads that contacts the brake rotor when the pads have worn to a certain point.
This is when you have a mechanic inspect the brakes. In the case of the squeal during braking, he may be able to apply a lubricant to quiet the vibration.
Then there are the squeals under the hood. If you hear this while revving the engine or when first starting it while cold, the noise is often due to a slipping drive belt. The belt could need adjusting or it could be glazed (the sides look shiny), which means it requires replacement. Again, this is when you have a mechanic look over the drive belts and replace them if necessary.
If you hear a ping or as we in Malaysia call it ‘a knock’ when you’re hitting the accelerator, you need to check your petrol. We have three kinds of fuels for petrol cars and two for diesel in the country now. If you hear these sounds, you’re not using the right kind of fuel.
This is often due to using petrol with too low an octane rating (the cheapest RON is not always available to you) and can begin occurring in older engines because of carbon buildup. Severe pinging can damage the engine. Engine overheating can also cause pinging, which can indicate a serious problem.
What you need to check is your coolant temperature gauge. If the temperature is normal, try using premium petrol. If that doesn't correct the pinging, have the car checked at Tayaria. If the temperature is high, stop driving and check the coolant level, but don't add water until the engine has cooled. Then have the cooling system inspected at your local Tayaria.
As the engine is mechanical, the knocks are always in a steady beat. You may also hear other steady noises from the tyres. If the noise increases and decreases with the speed of the car, it's probably a tyre problem, such as torn rubber in the tread, a bubble in the sidewall, or a flat spot. If so, you'll often feel a vibration through the steering wheel as well.
This is when you need to pop into Tayaria and have your rubber looked at. Torn rubber or a bubble could lead to a blowout, so get new tires. A flat spot is annoying but not serious.
As always, if you hear something strange or if you need a check, then drop by your friendly local Tayaria service centre for a consultation.