What’s that Noise? Your VW is Trying to Tell You Something!

If your Volkswagen is making an abnormal noise, listen to it. Don’t ignore it; it’s your VW’s attempt in telling you something’s just not right.

Use this guide to help troubleshoot the noise(s) coming from your Volkswagen.

  • Bang: An abrupt sound, like a gun has been shot, is your vehicle backfiring. This could be a result of something causing a rich air-fuel mixture. Timing could also be a possible cause. If your VW is turbocharged, your diverter valve may not be diverting like it should.
  • Boom: Not the sound that would emit from an explosion. A loud, deep, hollow resonate sound that could be the result of the your drive shaft spinning out of true due to its universal joins. When this happens waves are created which push up on your vehicle’s floorboard.
  • Buzz: Loose interior trim pieces can make it seem like there’s a fly buzzing around the cabin of your vehicle. Apply some pressure to the area emitting the vibration to tighten them up.
  • Chirp: If it sounds like a bird is taking shelter somewhere in your vehicle, a belt or idler pulley could be to blame. If you’re shifting hard from first to second gear, it could be your tires.
  • 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 push rod.
  • Clunk: A heavy bump sound that’s emitted when going over a less than smooth surface. Check your suspension bushings and strut/shock mounts.
  • Flapping: Inspect your fans to ensure nothing is interfering with the fan blades.
  • Grinding: If emitted during braking, check brake pads and rotors, or rear drums and shoes if applicable on older models.
  • 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 it responds to acceleration and deceleration, investigate your differential. Wheel bearings could also be a suspect. Have a passenger ride with you to increase 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 in a wrist pin issue.
  • 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 with the distributor or rotor button, or the position sensor.
  • Rattle: Check the exhaust and its hangers, and your brake calipers and pads to ensure they’re tight. Make sure loose coins aren’t tricking you, too.
  • Roar: If your vehicle has an automatic transmission, it may not be shifting correctly. If your transmission is a manual, the clutch may be slipping. It could also be a result of your tires and their tread if they’re new.
  • Scraping: Investigate anything that could get in the way of the drive shaft, like an exhaust shield or an emergency brake cable.
  • 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 could be the normal ticking emitted from fuel injectors, or something isn’t operating correctly within the valve train. Maybe a lifter is stuck or there’s too much lash, or the cam chain tensioner could be replaced.
  • Whine: Could be the result of a bearing on the verge 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. Also check your boost lines and silicone coming from your turbo to your intercooler, if applicable.