How do I get rid of the obnoxious tapping noise my car makes when I hit a bump?
November 5, 2008 10:03 AM   Subscribe

My car clicks when I drive over bumps or potholes. The noise is driving me crazy. How do I silence it?

I drive an '06 Honda Civic. The noise can best be described as a rapid "tap-tap-tap-tap-tap" that starts out loud but gets quiet. It sounds like *something* is out of place in the car but I can't figure out what.

When I drive it sounds like it's coming from the passenger side. When I'm a passenger the noise is quiet but still there.

I've tried adjusting the following, to no avail: windows, locks, window locks, side mirrors, rear view mirror, AC vents, loose stuff in glove compartment/cupholder, head rest height, back seats (they collapse to allow access to the trunk), seat belts (tried buckling them in to hold them in place), the plush Master Shake that dangles from my rear view mirror, and even the dashboard itself (the dash has been removed a few times and I figured maybe it wasn't put back together securely.)

So how do I make the bad noise go away?
posted by valadil to Travel & Transportation (12 answers total)
The fact that it stops when there's a passenger in the car tells me it's a bad shock.
I also had a similar problem in my Volvo that turned out to be a bad throw-out bearing, but that's in the drivetrain, not the suspension.
posted by dunkadunc at 10:12 AM on November 5, 2008

Check your suspension, and especially the CV joints.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:51 AM on November 5, 2008

It could be almost anything -- but I had a very similar sound from a broken sway bar end link. If you know what those are, look and see if they are both intact. ALso; have you had your car worked on lately? Sometimes a "lost" bolt or tool can become "unlost" and annoy you.

See if it happens when you push down firmly on the offending part of the car .. see if you can bounce it up and down hard enough to replicate the sound..

Do you have a audio or audio+video recording device to help us with an actual sound?

Sometimes the rubber strut mount can go (between the strut and the frame where it mounts to), but I dont think I would characterize it as a taptaptaptaptap noise.. so thats probably not it (especially on a newish car).
posted by SirStan at 11:01 AM on November 5, 2008

Response by poster: I'll try to look into the things you guys have mentioned. I really wish I remembered to ask the mechanic about this when I got my 20k tuneup last month. I'm not particularly well versed when it comes to cars.

The one thing I forgot to point out earlier is that it sounds like it's coming from the interior of the car, which is why I'm trying any moving parts I can find inside it. I'll definitely look into the other stuff too though. My theory was that the sound was reverberating off something inside and it wasn't actually coming from the right side of the car. As I mentioned before though, I really don't know what I'm talking about when it comes to cars.

I can see how well my phone records the noise. No promises it'll sound like much of anything though.
posted by valadil at 12:01 PM on November 5, 2008

I'm really thinking it's the CV joint, which is a rotating piece that would, if broken, absolutely make a tap tap tap tap tap noise as it rotated around when placed under stress -- typically when turning, but it could happen from a pothole, too. It could also sound like it's coming from the interior, because the joint is close to the bottom of the outside corner of the footwell.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:11 PM on November 5, 2008

Response by poster: Here's a recording - carnoise.wav. I apologize for the quality and the sirens. The latter wasn't my fault.

You can hear it best at 0:33, 0:40, and 1:03.

Thanks for all the help so far :)
posted by valadil at 2:01 PM on November 5, 2008

Listened to it. Still thinking CV joint.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:09 PM on November 5, 2008

Check the trunk for loose objects that could rattle.
posted by exphysicist345 at 3:16 PM on November 5, 2008

I can't even hear the noise properly from the clip, but it is almost impossible that the CV joint would make noise over a bump and not make much, much worse noises on steering lock application. The angularity change of the joint is miniscule in bump compared to steering.

You need to find a means to make the noise repeatable and consistent. Finding a reliable cause (like a type/size of bump and/or other cause) to effectively isolate it.

The fact that it stops when there's a passenger in the car tells me it's a bad shock.

He didn't say it stopped, just that it was quieter. That says it is nearer the drivers side than the passengers side, to me. It could still be internal or external.

Any chance of a second go at the audio, or amplifying it for my crappy speakers?
posted by Brockles at 3:20 PM on November 5, 2008

I can't hear shit.

That said, my guess would be a bad rotor.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:22 PM on November 5, 2008

Is the car under warranty? If so, take it in and have Honda check out the noise. Otherwise, your best bet is to have someone drive the car while you listen. The noise isn't characteristic of anything I know of except to say it doesn't sound like anything mechanical or drive train related. It doesn't sound like a CV joint or a control arm. I think it's interior trim.

There are many things it could be -- from the windshield flexing in its caulk to the passenger seat being slightly loose to two sections of the dash rubbing to door seals. Take it in to Honda if you can. The dealer is like a suppository of information for stuff like this. You'd be surprised.
posted by luckypozzo at 4:22 PM on November 5, 2008

I have an older Civic and sometimes my anti-lock brakes kick in when I go over a bump or a pothole. Even if I'm not braking at the time - it will make the noise that it would have if I were braking though. Could that be it?
posted by AV at 4:49 PM on November 5, 2008

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