Many of the sounds heard driving down the road indicate the vehicle is doing what it is supposed to. The engine rumbles comfortably.  The tires make a smooth humming sound. And the tailpipes make a muffled roar every now and again when the light turns green or the gas pedal gets pressed down. However, there are some vehicle sounds that indicate a problem. There are some specific sounds to which can alert a driver of a developing problem under the hood or elsewhere on the vehicle.

If you hear a “fff ttt fff” sound coming from under the car, one likelihood is that the exhaust manifold gasket has failed. It could be leaking carbon monoxide and other deadly gases into the air. The gasket leak can create a hole in the manifold itself, so it is important to have a mechanic check it out.

“Frump, frump, frump” is a sound often made by tires at low speeds, indicating a flat-spotted tire. Tires that are nylon-corded can get flat spots while sitting overnight and may make this sound until the tires warm up and expand a bit. In this case, it’s not a problem. But if a tire is flat-spotted due to a hard sudden slamming of the brakes at a high speed (taking off a good amount of rubber), the tire may need to be replaced to solve the problem, as the thickness of the tread demands.

In 4-wheel-drive or rear-wheel-drive vehicles, a ticking sound coming from the center underside of the car that varies with changes in speed can indicate a U-joint problem. The joint could be getting loose, which could mean it is about to break. Breaking a driveshaft can literally cause the vehicle to pole-vault forward and flip over when it snaps at full speed. Take this potentially fatal problem seriously and get the car into a Utah auto repair shop.

Hissing from under the hood could mean a vacuum leak, particularly if it is more noticeable when idling. Have a mechanic check the rubber or plastic vacuum line for cracks and leaks and have it replaced if needed.

Of course this is not an exhaustive list of all problematic sounds that a vehicle could make. But as a rule of thumb, if a new noise is coming from under the hood or under the car, you had better get it checked out. If, on the other hand, the noise seems to be coming from inside the cabin of the car, you may just have a lose piece of material somewhere, a water bottle rolling around under a seat, or a pair of shoes thumping around in the trunk every time to hit the brakes or turn. If you hear a noise that may be problematic, make an appointment with your local auto repair shop to examine the issue more fully.