As your car gets older, you start to hear inexplicable noises from under the hood. Despite regular oil changes, these rattling noises won’t go away. Why? Because the problem lies elsewhere.
Most cars, even with their perfectly running engine, tend to drive rough as they get older. And the main culprit is the car’s suspension system and other supporting structures on which the entire frame is built.
Is it expensive to fix a car that rattles?
No. It’s not as expensive as you might think. If you know where to look for the problem, fixing it is relatively simple and cost-effective.
What causes these problems, and how can you fix them? let’s find out.
Your car’s frame is a complex structure wherein hundreds of components are connected to each other to facilitate hinged movements.
One of the crucial components of your car is the suspension system, which comprises coilover springs, tie-rod, upper and lower control arm, struts and various bushings and bearings.
Over time, these parts catch rust, wear out, bend or snap out of place, causing your car to drive rough with evident cabin noise. The rubber bushings, which separate the car’s frame from the control arm, become brittle and crack. As a result, the vibrations from the wheels are not dampened properly and thus become evident inside the cabin.
These vibrations are felt more when you drive through a pothole, hit a curb or drive over undulations. Since these vibrations are caused by worn-out, brittle bushings, you can replace them to enjoy the smooth ride again.
Replacing suspension bushings is an affordable job, and you can get a new set every 5 years to continue to enjoy next-to-showroom driving pleasure.
Steering wheel vibrations: understanding the how’s and why’s
Another common symptom that may spoil your driving pleasure is the steering vibration. A failing lower control arm could be the reason behind this. A lower control arm connects the steering knuckles and wheel hub to the chassis. When the ball joint on the control arm wears out, it no longer holds the steering knuckles in place and causes it to vibrate.
You can fix the problem by replacing the control arm. If concerned about the price, you can check the cost at PartsGeek. If you are lucky, you might get a heavy discount. Also, replacing the control arm is less labor-intensive and can be done within 20 minutes by a professional mechanic.
In case your control arm looks fine, you might want to check the engine mounts. Note that it’s crucial to ensure the wellbeing of your car’s vital parts, as recurring problems can also give rise to accidents. Past incidents and studies show that automotive defects are among the leading causes of road accidents.
The engine mount assembly, as the name suggests, holds the engine in place with respect to the vehicle’s frame. Engine mounts, too, have rubber parts that get brittle or wear out over time. As a result, the engine’s vibrations travel through the steering rack into the cabin.
Replacing an engine mount is also a fairly affordable and simple job that takes around 20 minutes. Pop the hood, loosen the bolt, take the old mount out and put the new one in. OEM engine mounts can serve you well for 5-10 years, depending on your driving style.
How else can you minimize cabin noise and vibrations?
Floor and door damping is one of the most effective ways to cut out external noise and vibrations. Although it’s an extensive process that may take several hours, it’s a permanent solution that will last the lifetime of your car. Floor & door damping also improves the quality of your audio system by eliminating the rattling noise from the panels.
These affordable maintenance measures can prolong your car’s life and prevent expensive repairs.
Talking of prolonging your car’s life, there are many other simple things that you can do.
Everything else is replaceable, but having to replace the engine means you have failed as a car owner.
People take immense pride in their cars and go on to talk about how they have put multi-million miles on the odometer.
Even if you can make your car last 250k miles, it’s considered a big victory in the car world. And it’s not that difficult to achieve with these simple tips.
Ensure the cooling system is working properly
The importance of a cooling system is often undermined, as car owners’ first priority is to change the engine oil and air filter. If you are changing engine oil regularly, kudos to you, but changing coolant every 2 years is equally important. Over time, the coolant loses its intended properties as it circulates in the system under extremely high temperature and pressure. And when it wears out, it will no longer dissipate the engine’s heat efficiently.
Secondly, the radiator must be flushed when you change the coolant. This will remove any debris or gunk from the radiator core and ensure the free flow of coolant for efficient engine cooling.
A failing cooling system can result in engine overheating and stalling. Recurrent engine overheating leads to head gasket replacement, which require the engine block to be put on the lathe for resurfacing. This whole process can reduce the engine’s life by several years. And once your head gasket has been replaced, your engine will no longer be the same. Think of a human after multiple heart surgeries. That’s what your engine will be like after head gasket replacements.
Do not redline the RPM
It’s difficult for car enthusiasts to resist the temptation to redline their cars, but it’s even more difficult and painful to see your car dying before its time. If you participate in drag races with your naturally aspirated engine, always use synthetic engine oil. It will protect the engine from wear and tear at high temperatures and RPMs.
At some point in life, your car will start to drive rough, and it’s okay. Nothing lasts forever.
But hopefully, with the tips mentioned above, you can make the most of your investment and prevent unexpected breakdowns.
Take care of your car, and it will take care of you!