Why is my car making a rattling noise?

As we’ve noted before, cars are very vocal creatures, and when something’s wrong with them, they like to tell you about it. As far as noises go, rattling might not be one of the most panic-inducing ones, but it’s still a very unsettling thing to hear when you’re doing seventy down the motorway. It’s certainly not something to ignore, especially if you’re driving a used car or salvage vehicle from one of our online car auctions here at RAW2K. Here are some of the most likely explanations for a rattling noise in your vehicle, and one or two suggestions for how to solve them. 

If the rattling noise is coming from outside the car

It can sometimes be difficult to pin down a rattling noise, especially if it only becomes apparent when you’re doing seventy down the motorway. But if you think it’s coming from outside the car, some of the most likely explanations include a loose exhaust system, or a brakes issue. A problem with your suspension is another possible culprit. It’s worth conducting a quick visual check of where you think the noise is coming from, just in case the issue is more obvious than you were worried it might be.

There’s also another possible explanation. If it sounds like someone is shaking a box of stones under your car, then it might well be your catalytic converter. It’s basically the part of your exhaust system that filters out the most harmful pollutants from your exhaust gases. For such a small part, they can end up causing a heck of a lot of noise – a missing or damaged catalytic converter has been known to make even a hybrid car sound like a Harley Davidson. 

Obviously, none of these are repairs to attempt yourself unless you’ve got the requisite parts and knowledge (as we know many of our customers do here at RAW2K). If you’re not a professional mechanic though, make sure you enlist the help of one. It might not be a cheap repair, but it’ll almost certainly be a necessary one.

If the rattling noise is coming from under the bonnet

A rattling noise from under the bonnet never indicates a car that’s in rude health, and the underlying causes can vary. A failing water pump is one of the most common causes, and you can get clued into this early because the engine may well be at its loudest when your car’s idling.

On the other hand, it might be because of a low level of engine oil in your car. Happily, that means there’s sometimes a simple solution; just top up your oil levels, and you may find your problem is solved. We probably don’t need to explain the importance of keeping your car’s oil levels topped up – but then again, there are still thousands of motorists who get caught out by them every year. It’s worth making a regular top up of your oil part of your standard to-do list, if it wasn’t already.

Of course, your low oil levels may also be down to a leak. If that’s the case, it’s a far more serious (and potentially expensive) problem. There are a couple of clues – the oil levels will probably be draining far faster than they should normally be, and you may even spot dark stains around the bottom of your car when it’s been parked up for some time. If you think you’ve got a leak, make sure to get your car some professional attention as soon as you can.  

If you hear a rattling noise from inside the car

Arguably, this might be the least worrying type of rattling noise, as it may well mean you’ve just got a loose foreign object making its presence known while trapped somewhere it shouldn’t be. (If it’s a family car, small toys can make their way into all sorts of nooks and crevices!) You might want to check in the glove box, or under the seats, or in the centre storage console. And don’t be embarrassed to look in the door storage pockets, either! 

Plus, don’t forget to check in the boot. As we mentioned above, even small things have the ability to be surprisingly loud, so you may even find yourself having to empty the entire car in order to track down the source of the noise. But it’ll be worth it to possibly save you a bit of embarrassment at the garage later. 

Of course, if you can’t find the source of the rattling noise – and you’re absolutely sure – then a trip to the garage might be in order. If they’re not able to solve the issue, or you’re a professional mechanic yourself and the issue escapes you, then you may start to consider a new car.

That’s where we can help. Here at RAW2K we have a huge range of used, seized and salvage vehicles to choose from, including models from leading brands including Audi, Renault and Toyota. Why not take a look around our site, and see what you can find?