You’re driving your vehicle, and then you hear it — that bothersome noise. Is it a bad problem, or something that will just go away? A noise diagnostic can help answer that for you.
What happens during a noise diagnostic?
Any noise diagnostic starts by replicating the noise. That means the technician is confident that they hear the same thing you do. The fact of the matter is that your car makes a lot of noises, so a good technician wants to make sure they’re not spending your money trying to find a noise that you don’t even hear! This may include test driving the vehicle, if you only hear it under certain criteria (like when you’re driving on the freeway).
Once the noise has been identified, sometimes, the work is done (if there can only be one cause). More often, a bit of disassembly or testing time is necessary, but usually that is sufficient.
How much does this cost?
A noise diagnostic usually can take up to an hour, although if a good technician can diagnose the issue very quickly, then they would typically reduce the cost of your diagnosis appropriately. In addition, if the disassembly takes them part of the way toward the repair, the technician can usually credit some or all of the diagnostic fee toward the repair itself.
Why not just describe the noise?
Unfortunately, everyone hears and describes noises a bit differently. And even if the technician did know the exact noise, they still might need additional time to pinpoint the exact cause.
How much will the repair cost?
The repair cost can differ drastically depending on the source of the noise. Sometimes, the whole thing just takes 5 minutes — maybe something is caught and just needs to be removed. Other times, the noise will be related to a substantial component of your vehicle, and can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars to repair.
How can I ensure my noise diagnostic goes smoothly?
That’s easy! There are few easy steps. First, ride along in your vehicle with the technician. This will help ensure they hear exactly what you do. Next, try to answer the questions below; they will help ensure the technician spends time in the right area, and makes an appropriate recommendation for you:
- How often do you notice the noise happening? For example, once per day, multiple times every day, or all the time?
- What does the noise sound like? Is it a lower pitch grinding/groaning/growling noise, or a higher pitched squeaking/chirping/rattling noise?
- Does the noise happen when you are driving, or while stationary? If driving, what speeds/road type do you most notice the noise on?
- Are there any specific instructions we should give the mechanic to be able to duplicate the noise?
- From the driver seat, where does it sound like the noise is coming from (front of car, back of car, left side, right side, etc)? Does it sound like it’s coming from the inside or the outside of the vehicle?
- Does the noise occur when the vehicle is cold, warming up, or at operating temperature?
- Does the noise seem to be related to the outside temperature? For example, it only happens in the morning when it’s cold, or in the daytime when it’s hot outside.