My car was stolen. Now banshees live under the hood.
March 18, 2006 12:56 PM   Subscribe

My '94 Honda Accord was recently stolen. I've since recovered it, but now something under the hood makes horrendous metal-on-metal noises. The Honda dealer that repaired the ignition found nothing else wrong with the car. I think this is BS. How should I proceed?

My car was in perfect working order prior to being stolen. When I took it in, I expressed my concern over the noises and asked specifically if they could take a look at it. I then wrestled with my insurance company to get them to approve repairs to as much as they did. When I asked about "the noises under the hood," the mechanic said everything looked fine.

The situation is even more aggravating because I want to sell the freakin' thing. No one in their right mind would buy a car that sounds like mine does, and I don't think potential buyers will believe me when I tell them there's nothing wrong with it.

What should I do?
posted by hercatalyst to Travel & Transportation (18 answers total)
I don't know you and I don't know if your reporting of what metal-on-metal sounds like is indeed metal on metal. However, I have a Honda of rougly your vintage that makes a somewhat horrible sound when you turn sharply left. The reason for this is that one of the underneath-plastic-parts that keeps crud out from the wheel wells and enging areas, some sort of behind the tire mudflap body part, is loose by one screw and hangs lower than it should. This means that the tire rubs it when you turn sharply. So, this may or may not be your problem, in fact I bet it isn't, but more information about your noise would be helpful.

- Are you sure it's the engine area and not the front tires/wheels? how much experience do you have with metal-on-metal noises (not casting aspersions, but have you ever had your disk brake pads wear down, for example?) Have you gotten the wheels/tires looked at? Something as stupid as a rock wedged into your brakes can make the car sound horrible but the fix is easy.
- Does it make this noise at all times when the car is running? just when you're driving? does the noise change depending on how fast you are driving or how fast the engine is going or for any other reason?
- when you lift the hood to listen for this noise, where does it seem to be coming from?

Give us a bit more in the way of details about the noise and I'm sure folks will have some good ideas.
posted by jessamyn at 1:06 PM on March 18, 2006

Metal on metal sounds could be the belts, although they are not metal, it sounds very similar. If it is the belts the mechanic would not see anything wrong with them. Does it make the screeching sound when you turn the wheel, run the AC or is it a constant screeching sound?
posted by 517 at 1:15 PM on March 18, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks for the questions, jessamyn! I know nothing about cars and wasn't sure how to describe these new mysterious sounds.

I have no idea what metal-on-metal sounds like, but my boyfriend characterized The Noises as such. They're isolated to the front right side of the car. The mechanic said he checked the brakes, tires and wheels and they all looked fine.

NOTE: To maximize amusement, read following paragraph aloud.

The car's inital start-up is louder than it was prior to the theft. It makes "clanka-clanka-clanka" sounds without driving it. When it's driven slowly, "clanka-clanka-clanka" turns into "CLANKACLANKACLANKACLANKA!" with some "ritta-ritta-ritta-ritta" thrown in. When it's going over 60mph, the "CLANKA's" seem to regress back to "clanka's" and the "ritta's" disappear.

There's no shaking or hesitation from the engine or anything. It's a great car, it just sounds like holy hell unleashed.
posted by hercatalyst at 1:30 PM on March 18, 2006

Definitely not the belts, try a different mechanic and send your insurance company the bill.
posted by 517 at 1:35 PM on March 18, 2006

But is this "Clanka" sound only being made while you're moving? Does it make this sound stopped at traffic lights? What about when you're in reverse?
posted by saladin at 1:45 PM on March 18, 2006

When I asked about "the noises under the hood," the mechanic said everything looked fine.

Time to look for another mechanic, I would think.
posted by Neiltupper at 2:01 PM on March 18, 2006

If the sounds are easily reproducible then any mechanic on the face of the earth should be able to fix them or at least tell you what is causing them. The fact that the dealer punted on this means that they don't want to deal with you (or your insurance company) for some reason, not that there's no problem. Take it to a real mechanic, not one that pretends to not hear things.
posted by Rhomboid at 2:16 PM on March 18, 2006

Sounds like it could be a loose heat shield on your exhaust manifold or over your muffler/catalytic converter.
posted by davey_darling at 2:24 PM on March 18, 2006

Go to any recommended mechanic and get a written estimate.

Decide whether you want to pay to have it fixed or sell the car, disclosing the repair work needed. FYI, Hondas are notoriously easy to sell. You should be able to split the difference of the cost of repair with a buyer willing to do the work his/her self.

If you are serious about selling; do so now before anything gets worse.

God luck-
posted by vaportrail at 2:57 PM on March 18, 2006

it could be that a cylinder's missing once in awhile, which would point to your need a tune up or new spark plugs ... also check to see what color the exhaust is ... if it's white, fine ... if it's tending towards black or somewhat blueish, you may have engine problems

your dealer probably didn't want to mess with an engine problem ... and really, on a '94 car, neither do you

here's hoping it's just a tune up you need
posted by pyramid termite at 2:58 PM on March 18, 2006

Get a new mechanic. Been sitting trying to think of ideas, and there's like nine different scenarios that I can think of, all of them just as likely as the other.

One of the things to ask you, though, is how was the car stolen and what did they do with it? Break a window? Pry open the hood? Was there a police report or something? Were the thieves joy-riding in it? This could all give the new mechanic some clues as to what the thief might have done to create the problem (of course, it could just be the car doing it all by itself, too).
posted by frogan at 3:00 PM on March 18, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks for all the comments, guys. Like I said, I know nothing about cars. I seriously hope it just needs a tune up, too, pyramid termite.

frogan, the thieves used a slim jim to get the door open, I'm assuming. No windows were broken. They smashed in the ignition and probably used a screwdriver or something to get it started. I've since learned that Hondas made between '92 and '94 are really easy to boost.

I filed a police report immediately and they found my car the next day in a town fifteen or so miles north of where I live. It was parked in front of a seedy house, or so said the guy who impounded my car. He also said it's relatively easy to swap VIN numbers on cars like mine and sell them. He supposed that's what the thieves intended.

In other words, I don't know if the thieves drove it hard or did something to it. It could be just coincedence that it started making The Noises after the car was recovered.

On a completely different note, the idiot who stole it left a blowtorch, half a pack of cigarettes, credit card receipts, a bandana, sunglasses and two open packages of Keebler cookies in my backseat. He also left cig butts in the ashtray and changed all my radio presets. They got tons of prints.

So...anyone know a good mechanic in the Everett/Seattle area?
posted by hercatalyst at 3:46 PM on March 18, 2006

Did the person who recovered it use a tow truck? If so, could one of the axles or wheels have been knocked out of alignment due to being towed, or towed improperly?

Not that I know anything about proper towing procedure, or even if such a concept exists at all.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 4:06 PM on March 18, 2006

I recently had a very similar problem with my 1991 Honda Accord. It turned out to be the distributor. Unfortunately I can't remember all the details, but maybe that will help you get started. It wasn't very expensive to replace either.
posted by jahmoon at 4:49 PM on March 18, 2006

After re-reading your first reply, particularly this:

The car's inital start-up is louder than it was prior to the theft. It makes "clanka-clanka-clanka" sounds without driving it. When it's driven slowly, "clanka-clanka-clanka" turns into "CLANKACLANKACLANKACLANKA!" with some "ritta-ritta-ritta-ritta" thrown in. When it's going over 60mph, the "CLANKA's" seem to regress back to "clanka's" and the "ritta's" disappear.

It definitely sounds exactly like the problem I had with the distributor (or mount? I forget :-\ )
posted by jahmoon at 4:54 PM on March 18, 2006

Don't forget the guys over at Cartalk.

They answer questions exactly like "my car goes CLANKACLANKACLANKACLANKA"
posted by filmgeek at 5:09 PM on March 18, 2006

So...anyone know a good mechanic in the Everett/Seattle area?

Yes. I've had good luck with Dr. Don's Auto [or something similar] over in Ballard and I also used to get my car worked on by John Giovine [at a little garage over in Eastlake] before that. John's hard to reach (he's in the white pages but not the yellow pages) but really friendly though not always fast. The Dr. Don people seemed to know everything about my truck. There are lots of Seattle folks around here though, I bet there are plenty of recommendations here or in another AskMe thread.
posted by jessamyn at 7:15 PM on March 18, 2006

Does the car perform fine while it's making these noises? Or does it hesitate, etc? Is the car any louder overall? (apart from the clanking)
posted by knave at 9:34 PM on March 18, 2006

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