by Pat Goss
New cars, old cars, or in between cars. Sooner or later all of them seem to have some kind of a noise you need to diagnose. Now, how could you go about doing that?
Well, if you’re going to repair it yourself, you're going to need a couple of tools. If you’re going to take it to a shop, it would help if you take the time to write down when it happens. Does it happen when the car is cold or hot or when it’s raining or when you’re going around corners. Is it high speed, low speed, and so on. All of this information will save you money because it saves diagnostic time.
Now if you want to look at these things yourself and try and fix it, well here is one of the most popular tools you can have. This is an automotive stethoscope. Now you’re probably going to have to rent a lift or something, you’re going to have to have some way to safely get the car up into the air if the noise is coming from underneath. But what you're going to have to do is to have somebody in the car, have the car safely supported, and you’re going to have to run it in gear. And you're going to have to listen to various things like the hum bearings out here or you may listen to the engine or the transmission of the output if it's all wheel drive. Things like that that will help you diagnose the problem. And when you hear the problem through this, well you know you’ve got it.
Now maybe it’s not underneath the car, maybe it’s under the hood. And here you’ve got the alternator, you’ve got the waterpump, you’ve got idler pulleys and tensioners and all these different things that rotate all the time. Again what you would do is to start it, run it, while the noise is going on. Use the stethoscope to very carefully avoid anything that's moving and touch the various parts that could be making the noise. And if you arrive at the right spot, you’ll know it.
Now, long Phillip screwdriver. Great tool for diagnosing things like this. You’re going to put it up against the device where you think the noise is coming from and you're going to put your thumb over the end of it like that and you're going to hold it against your ear. And when you do that and you come up against the thing that is making noise it’ll be loud and clear just like it is in the stethoscope. So that’s a way to help save yourself some money. And if you have a question or comment, drop me a line right here at MotorWeek.