Why is My Car Making a Rattling Noise?

We’ve all experienced it before, an unexpected noise coming from your vehicle as you’re driving. Whether that’s squeaking, grinding, rattling, or anything else, there’s nothing quite as worrying as an unidentifiable noise coming from your car. 

One of the most common noises to hear in your vehicle is some sort of rattle. Our cars consist of thousands of separate parts and systems, so it’s not uncommon to hear a loose one cause an unsettling rattling noise. 

The issue comes in where this rattling is coming from, as some can be more problematic than others. 

Common Causes of a Rattling Sound

While there are numerous possible causes, there are some common locations of rattling to be aware of.

Exhaust System

If you hear a metallic rattling sound, especially under acceleration, it’s possible that the source of your noise is the vehicle’s exhaust.

Rattling in the exhaust can be caused by loose hardware, loose heat shields, faulty hangers, exhaust leaks, or loose catalyst material in your catalytic converter just to name a few. 

Your exhaust system experiences harsh vibrations as you drive, which can cause various pieces to become jarred loose. There’s no specific way to know where it’s coming from just from the sound alone, so a rattling exhaust system should be inspected by a professional to hunt down the source of the issue and repair it.

Your catalytic converters have a honeycomb structure of catalyst material inside, which can have chunks broken off over time. These chunks can become stuck in the catalytic converter housing and continually rattle around as exhaust blows past it. A faulty catalytic converter can cause some major issues, including being unable to pass emissions and register your vehicle, so this problem should be taken seriously and remedied in a timely manner. 

Underside of car showing exhaust system

Interior Rattling

Generally the most harmless on the list, interior rattling is usually caused by a trim piece that has become loose over time. This can be due to cheap materials, a broken clip, damage to plastic trim, or simply a loose item like change or screws. 

When hearing a rattling sound from your vehicle, the interior should be the first place you look. Feel and listen around for the glove box, cup holders, and the various cargo spaces around the interior for loose items that could be causing noise. 

If that’s fruitless, check around your dashboard, climate controls, door panels, and seat controls for other pieces that may have wiggled themselves loose. 

A final check you might want to carry out is the windows, as worn weather seals can allow the windows to give and rattle slightly. 

Suspension & Steering Components

Your vehicle’s steering and suspension systems are full of various moving parts. Ball joints, tie roads, control arms, and strut mounts are just some of the components that your rattle could originate from. 

These parts are all mounted and aligned in precise locations to avoid rubbing against other parts or becoming loose, but with all of the abuse your vehicle’s suspension takes from potholes and speed bumps, it’s not uncommon for a rattle to develop in this section of your car.

Because there are so many individual parts within your steering and suspension, you should have your vehicle inspected by a trusted professional for a diagnosis if you encounter a rattle from this area. 

Brake Rattling

Your brakes are another area where rattles can develop. It may happen specifically when applying the brakes or could be a consistent rattle, depending on the location of the issue.

Brake pads are held tightly with clips, but can become slightly loose due to wear and tear or improper installation. This can cause a rattling sensation when slowing down the cars. You may even feel this in your brake pedal.

Other components of your brake system can also become loose and cause rattling over time. If you are experiencing any rattling under braking, you should have your brakes inspected by a professional immediately. Loose brake components are not something you want to let worsen, as they can cause dangerous situations.

Brake caliper and rotor

Other Causes

Unfortunately, there are just too many components with the potential to cause a rattle for us to list them all. Any loose nut, bolt, fastener, etc., can lead to a disconcerting noise. 

Unless you can confidently say the rattle is coming from something harmless, such as an interior piece, it’s always a good idea to bring your vehicle in for an inspection. While not every rattling sound means your vehicle is in trouble, it’s better to be safe than sorry. 

Vehicle Inspections & Diagnostics in Las Vegas

If you’re looking for automotive diagnostics in the Summerlin area, the ASE-certified technicians at Red Rock Repair have the expertise and equipment to properly track down the source of your issue and repair it. Call or request an appointment online with us today!

Better Service Starts Here!

We know just how impotant it is to have a repair shop you can trust. Red Rock Repair offers a level of service you wont find anywhere else in Las Vegas!

DIRECTIONS (702) 385-7887

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