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Why Is My Car Rattling? Know The Causes

  • Cars Explained
  • Ray Sanders
  • 5 minutes

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Rattling noises from your car while driving can be irritating, and you shouldn’t ignore them. Such a noise means something is wrong with your car and immediately needs repair. 

Rattling noises are associated with many faults; most of these just need a simple repair, while some require expert help. This guide will help you figure out the various causes behind these noises. 

To determine exactly why your car is rattling, you must first figure out where the noise is coming from. This is because the causes depend upon the noise source.  

Why is my car rattling: specific causes 

Why is my car rattling from under the hood? 

Though rattling noises in a car are common, it can be frightening if these noises occur from below the hood, ie. From the engine area. However, these issues may not be as severe as you’d imagine and could usually be rectified with easy fixes. 

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Low engine oil 

Maintaining an adequate engine oil level on your car is extremely important for the smooth running of your automobile. Lack of oil circulation on the engine develops excess friction to develop between the engine parts, leading to rattling noise coming out from under the bonnet. Furthermore, this can even lead to the engine getting stuck, which can be a real headache, particularly when you are in the middle of the road. This is why you have to check the engine oil levels at regular intervals and fill them up to ensure lubrication.  


Broken drive belt and timing belt 

The drive belt or serpentine belt is one component that is used to drive components such as the alternator, power steering pump, water pump, AC compressor, air pump, etc. A broken timing belt can create rattling noises from under the car due to a lack of smooth operation.  

Similarly, a broken timing belt can cause the engine to overheat and thus cause a rattling noise. You can find this out by removing the belt and accelerating to know if the issue persists. However, it is always better to get these issues inspected by a qualified mechanic. 

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Why is my car rattling while accelerating?

Damaged catalytic converter 

A catalytic converter is one of a car’s most important and expensive parts. It breaks down the toxic pollutants into less harmful byproducts. But did you know that a failed catalytic converter can cause car rattling? Over a certain period, internal components of catalytic converters tend to break down, creating a rattling noise while accelerating. 

Loose exhaust components 

Exhaust components like mufflers are made of metals and are prone to corrosion. Also, parts like hangers and clamps that go into the system tend to loosen over time, creating car rattling from behind. However, these are easy fixes, and you can mostly do it on your own.  

Faulty heat shield 

Like exhaust components, heat shields are also made of metal and are prone to rusting and corrosion. The rattling sound typically occurs due to the heat shield coming loose from its welds and brushing against the nearby exhaust components  The easiest fix is to weld the mounts back to their original position. However, corrosion can greatly reduce the effectiveness of a heat shield, so it may be necessary to replace it if it is beyond repair. 

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Wheel well rattle 

Loose brake fittings 

Brakes are one of those components of a car that are in frequent use. The stopping process places extreme stress on a vehicle’s brakes, and it is evident from this that brake components are subject to frequent wear and tear, causing rattling noises to occur from the car.  

It is advised that you check your car brakes immediately when you hear any unusual noise from the brakes, as it can be dangerous to leave them unnoticed.   

Damaged suspension or steering components 

A vehicle’s steering and suspension systems work together to provide a comfortable ride for its occupants. However, even these parts can wear out over time. Upon damage, components like bushings, ball joints, sway bar links, tie rods, control arms, shocks, and strut mounts can cause rattling noises, particularly while navigating through bad roads. This can cause discomfort while driving.  

Suspension systems are complex. And if you find any errors in these systems, you should get them checked by a mechanic.  

Interior rattling 

The source of the Interior rattling is probably something simple that can be easily fixed. These noises could occur due to a loose glove box hinge, broken door panels, dash bezels, center console covers, and loose cup holders. In addition, it could even be due to small items, such as loose change, that you left in the compartments and forgot about. These, however, are simple damages and not something to worry about, as the fixes aren’t too expensive. 

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