Your Ford Is Speaking To You: De-Code That Noise

If your Ford is making an abnormal noise, it’s attempting to speak to you and tell you something isn’t right. Don’t ignore it, listen to it, and use this guide to help decode the source(s) of the noise(s) coming from your Ford.

Ford car
  • Bang: A loud, sudden abrupt sound, like a gun has gone off, is your vehicle backfiring. This could be a result of something causing a rich air-fuel mixture. Timing could also be a possible cause.
  • Boom: Not the sound from something exploding, but a deep, hollow resonate sound that could be the result of your driveshaft spinning out of true due to its universal joins.
  • Buzz: Loose interior trim pieces can make it seem like there’s a fly buzzing around the cabin of your vehicle. Apply some pressure with your hands on areas where the sound is coming from.
  • Chirp: If it sounds like a family of young birds are living in your vehicle a belt or idler pulley could be to blame.
  • Clank: A sound emitted from within the heavier components of your vehicle, like a bad rear pinion bearing when shifting from reverse to drive.
  • Click: If occurring during a turn, check your outer CV joints. If the sound is coming from your engine, there may be dirty oil deposits, a rocker arm may need adjustment, a lifter could be stuck, or there’s a bent pushrod.
  • Clunk: A heavy bump sound that’s emitted when going over a less than smooth surface. Check your strut/shocks and their mounts, and your suspension bushings to make sure they’re not worn or blown.
  • Flapping: Inspect your fans to ensure nothing is interfering with the fan blades.
  • Grinding: If emitted during braking, check the brake pads/shoes for pad life and rotors. Check the brake’s dust shield, too.
  • Groan: More than likely a dry suspension component. If it’s rubber, apply silicone lubricant. If it's metal, look into replacement.
  • Hiss: Check the cooling system for any leaks. If it gets louder while driving, especially when accelerating, it may be a belt.
  • Hum: If the sound reacts to acceleration and deceleration, investigate your differential. Wheel bearings are also a common suspect and may be failing. Have a passenger ride with you to increase the likeliness of determining which side the noise is emitting from.
  • Knock: Typically a warning that something can’t hold on any longer. It could be a loose wrist pin, or it could be a rod bearing. Begin with checking the oil pressure. If the pressure is low, you can lean more towards a bearing. Rod bearings make more noise at the oil plan more so than anywhere else, so you’ll want to listen for audible changes in that area. Hold the throttle steadily at 2,500 RPMs, then press the throttle open and let it close. If it were a bearing, the noise will become more prominent. If needed, check the oil pan. If the bearings are okay, then it’s likely there is a wrist pin issue. (You might also check out this article on the cam phaser.)
  • Ping: Similar to sprinkling nails on a piece of sheet metal, this sound is caused by an air and fuel charge exploding instead of burning smoothly. The EGR valve could be clogged or your ignition timing could be advanced.
  • Pop: Typically the sound of your engine coughing back through the intake path. There could be a leaking or stuck valve, or timing could have jumped. There could also be an issue within the distributor, the distributor’s rotor button, or the position sensor. If there’s discharged grease around your brakes, check to make sure your axle boots aren’t torn. Check your wiring harness within the engine bay to make sure it is secure.
  • Rattle: Check the exhaust and its hangers, and your brake calipers and pads to ensure they’re tight. Make sure any loose change in interior compartments isn’t deceiving you.
  • Roar: Your transmission may not be shifting correctly. It could also be a result of your tires, especially if you have aggressive tread. If the wheel bearings are really bad, they will emit more of a roar instead of a hum.
  • Scraping: Investigate anything that could get in the way of the driveshaft, like an exhaust shield or an emergency brake line.
  • Sizzling: Oil or coolant could be leaking onto hot components.
  • Squeal: More than likely the brakes, but it could be a belt, as well. Check your pad levels and see if your rotors are coming in contact with the pad wear indicators. If the brakes are okay, examine your belts to see if they’re loose or worn out.
  • Tick: A very small, distinct sound. It is possible that there’s a leak in the exhaust manifold, or something isn’t operating correctly within the valve train. Maybe a lifter is stuck or there’s too much lash.
  • Whine: Could be the result of a bearing on the verge of giving out, an alternator bushing, mismatched gears, or insufficient lubrication in the gearbox.
  • Whistle: More than likely wind noise. Check your vehicle’s weather stripping. It could be a slightly open window, or your mirrors could be causing it. If you have a high-performance air filter this could also be to blame.