When your car starts making a new noise and you don’t know why, it can be a worrying experience. You can save yourself a lot of stress by learning a little bit about what might be causing the noise and what you can do to fix it.
Even if there’s something wrong with your car, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have to foot an expensive repair bill or take it to a mechanic. This guide will help you work out the best course of action to get your car back to its usual self - free of any clicking!
Low Engine Oil
A lack of lubrication between different components in your car can cause a clicking noise. You should check your engine oil level and, if it’s low, take a look around under the bonnet to see if you can spot a leak.
It’s easy to top up your engine oil, but if there’s a leak then it will be impossible to maintain the correct level. In this case, you should take your car to a garage to get it fixed.
Not only could your oil be low, it might also be dirty, meaning that it won’t be able to do its job properly. Engine oil needs to be fairly clean so that it can lubricate the necessary components. If you let dirty engine oil run through your engine for long enough, eventually it could cause the valve filter to become faulty or break.
Fortunately, it’s possible to replace the old engine oil yourself, or if you prefer, you can book your car in for a service where a professional will do it for you.
If you notice that the squeaking noise is most prominent when you turn your car, the most likely suspect is a CV (or constant velocity) axle. CV axles allow the car’s transmission to drive a car’s wheels and open up a range of motion with bearings.
The clicking sound probably comes from a torn shaft boot on one of the CV axles. When shaft boots are damaged they begin to leak grease, and without any grease the components will be dry, causing them to make a clicking sound when they come into contact.
Catching this problem early can prevent you from having to replace the entire CV axle. A mechanic will be able to advise you on the extent of the damage and the nature of the repair job needed.
Loose Brake Pad
A clicking sound that happens mainly when you drive slowly, particularly when you are breaking, could be a sign of a loose brake pad. If the pad is not properly secured to the caliper, it moves around at slower speeds and makes a clicking sound when you apply the brakes. The fix for this would be a brake pad replacement.
Faulty Battery or Alternator
Rapid clicking usually suggests that there is enough power in the battery to bring the starter motor to life, but not enough to crank the engine. Either your battery is faulty or the alternator is no longer charging the battery, causing the power to be drained.
You can try jump-starting the car if you need to use it urgently, but if the alternator isn’t working, the battery will die anyway. The best option in this situation is a battery replacement.
The starter is a small motor which is powered by your car’s battery. It’s responsible for getting the engine running, but starters have a limited lifespan and can last anywhere between 30,000 to 200,000 miles.
If the starter is faulty, you will need to get a replacement battery fitted. Some symptoms to look out for include a slower cranking engine and smoke coming from the car. The worst case scenario when you hear a single click is that your engine is locked up or frozen.
When this happens, the best course of action is to take your car to a mechanic who can correctly diagnose and fix the problem.