Rattling While You’re Driving: Causes and Solutions

When you’re driving, you don’t expect to hear too many noises. Sure, there’s the hum of the engine, the rush of the tires upon the road, and maybe even your favorite station on the radio. In rush hour traffic, it may get a little busier with a few brakes and horns. Amidst all the other noises, one thing you don’t want to hear is rattling—from anywhere on your car. Not only is rattling a nuisance, it also is a constant reminder that something is out of place.

In general, there are dozens of reasons you may encounter rattling in your vehicle. It’s a good idea to listen as closely as possible, and then take your vehicle to the dealership when it’s convenient. Once there, describe the rattling as best you can, as well as the part of the vehicle you think it’s occurring in.

It’s unusual for a car or truck to rattle over and over again, and it isn’t an annoyance you need to tolerate. If you believe your car may have been sold to you with a defect, reach out to us at 833.4.CARLAW for a free consultation and we will investigate the problem.

Why Rattling Happens

The general explanation for any sort of rattling is something has come out of place. Think about the vibrations of your engine and the uneven pavement you need to drive over. Your vehicle encounters an enormous amount of vibration with every single drive. A missing screw or bolt can leave a component hanging loose, casing it to rattle against whatever is nearest.

Common Causes and Solutions for Rattling

When analyzing rattling, we break it down into two categories: inside and outside.

Interior Rattling

In general, it’s better if the rattling comes from inside the cabin—that’s normally an easy fix. A stray pen in the glovebox or a phone dropped between the seat and the door can rattle loud enough for you to hear.

Your glove box door, cup holders, and even your instrument panel can rattle if they’re receiving enough vibration. To isolate the source of your rattling, try having a passenger place a firm hand on the surfaces of your interior. If the rattling stops as they apply pressure, you’ll know the source of your problem.

In some cases, the rattling may be caused by a missing screw. This could be true if you have a loose seat or broken glove box. Replacing this screw can be as important for safety issues as it is for keeping distractions down.

Exterior Rattling

Rattling outside of your car is a much more serious concern. Additionally, there are many potential causes. That can include:

Loose exhaust system.

Your exhaust system is attached to the underside of your car. If it comes loose, it may sag slightly. Sagging gives it enough room to rattle against the underside of the vehicle along uneven surfaces.

Solution: Have a dealership examine your exhaust system. The repair could be as easy as tightening a loose clamp.

Bad catalytic converter.

Your catalytic converter, which removes poisonous particles from your exhaust, may rattle if part of its internal structure breaks off. This can happen as a result of thermal shock or an impact.

Solution: You’ll need to replace the catalytic converter, but you’ll also want your dealership to see what caused the damage in the first place.

Bad suspension.

Your suspension is a system of springs, struts, and bars responsible for a smooth ride. As they wear, vibrations can turn to rattling.

Solution: Your dealership will need to look for leaks. If none are found, simply tightening up loose connections may be enough to stop the noise.

Bad wheel bearings.

Your bearings are essential for smooth wheel rotation. If they go bad, you’ll get friction. This can cause extra wear to your wheels and tires, creating dangerous driving conditions.

Solution: You’ll need to replace your bearings.

Low engine oil.

If your oil gets too low, the oil pump will draw air into the engine, and this will circulate with the rest of the oil. This in turn creates a rattling or ticking noise.

Solution: Add more oil. If the oil is old, have it replaced.

Loose belts.

As belts wear, they can crack or fray. These loose bits can knock against the engine as the belt turns, making a noise similar to rattling.

Solution: Replace the belts.

These aren’t all the causes of rattling, but they’re a good starting point. If you need even more help, consult your dealership.

Seek Legal Assistance for Rattling

If you experience rattling frequently, despite your dealership’s best efforts, you may have been sold a lemon. Robison Lemon Law Group LLC can help you navigate both the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act and lemon laws to ensure you receive the justice you deserve.