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What Is That Car Rattling Noise? All Potential Causes

What Is That Car Rattling Noise? All Potential Causes

If you got to a point where you're asking yourself, “what is that car rattling noise” the real culprit depends on where you're hearing the rattling noise coming from:

Auto Repairs Are EXPENSIVE

  • The rattling noise is coming from the car's interior (problem with loose elements)
  • The rattling noise is coming from underneath the car (problems with the exhaust or emission systems)
  • The rattling noise is coming from under the hood (problems with the hydraulic valve lifter or the pistons)

Have you ever got into your vehicle and heard a rattling noise? Did you know that any weird noises coming from your car might be related to a significant internal problem? Well, that's why automotive experts recommend never ignoring these noises and taking them seriously to resolve any potential problem before dealing with sudden breakdowns.

Car rattling is a very common noise, and it can be linked to a long list of different causes. Familiarizing yourself with these causes is the first step towards the solution, and it helps you now down the list of car parts that could cause the rattling noise. Once you know, which part is causing the problem, it is recommended that you have your mechanic inspected or replace it if needed.

This article provides you with all easy to know about potential causes for car rattling noise. This way, you will immediately note the short answer for “what is that car rattling noise?”

What is that car rattling noise? And how to fix rattling noise in my car?

Many inexperienced drivers might get extremely nervous when hearing a loud rattling noise coming from the vehicle. The good news is that there is a very common list of potential causes that you can check and fix to resolve and get rid of the problem.

It is critical to note that if your car is making rattling noises continuously without moving, it might require a thorough inspection by a professional mechanic because this indicates a significant internal issue that might be beyond an average driver’s experience.

To determine what exactly is causing the rattling noise in your car, you'll need to monitor where this noise is coming from. Let's take a closer look at potential scenarios for rattling noise in your car:

1.    The rattling noise is coming from the car's interior

When you hear the rattle Ling noise, you mustn't immediately assume that it's a critical engine problem. Instead, start small and look for simple problems before assuming very high repair costs.

The first thing you need to do when investigating what is causing the rattle Ling noise in your car is to check your vehicle's interior. Sometimes very simple things like the following might cause the rattling noise:

  • An element stuck on the door panel or cup holder
  • A broken glove box hinge
  • A loose center console cover

Typically, these problems do not occur in most modern vehicles bought. However, there's a very high chance you might deal with certain squeaks and rattlings because of simple items like the ones mentioned.

If that's the case, all you must do is use simple house tools like a pillar or a screwdriver and fix things that are not sitting correctly. Note that sometimes the rattling noise might be coming from your vehicle's trunk, and there might be some larger elements that are not sitting properly, and you'll hear the rattling noise mostly when the vehicle is idling.

If you do not detect any obvious internal thing making the rattling noise, you must move down the list and look for other items.

How to fix this rattling noise?

If the rattling noise is happening from loose items, you must use a screwdriver and fix them. Otherwise, if the problem is an element stock to your door panel, you must get it out to stop the noise.

How much does it cost to fix this rattling noise?

Fixing running noises from loose elements inside your vehicle should not cost you any money. Typically, all you must do is to bring a screwdriver and tighten the loose components.

2.    The rattling noise is coming from underneath the car

After looking inside your vehicle, you might not find anything loose or causing the rattle Ling noise. Before moving to the engine compartment, it is critical that you still look underneath the vehicle because sometimes problems with the exhaust in the emission systems might be causing the rattling noise.

For example, if there is an issue with the muffler or probably the tailpipe, you might start hearing rattling noise as you age. Also, any rust might cause many exhaust system elements to fail to cause the rattle Ling noise. For example, if the clamp or the hinges are not in good condition, they might cause some rattling noise.

If those cheap elements were not considered as the main source of the rattling noise, then you'll need to move forward to investigate more expensive elements. For example, a failing catalytic converter might cause clear rattling noises. The catalytic converter is the core element responsible for converting bad emissions to less harmful gases so you can emit them to the atmosphere without causing major damage to the environment.

Over time of use, the catalytic converter internal pieces can fail out and cause some rattling noises. Unfortunately, if a lot of these components fail, you'll need to replace the catalytic converter. If you don't know already, the catalytic converter is one of the most expensive parts of your car, and once you get to this point, you'll evaluate your conditions and consider whether it's worth these repairs or not. Otherwise, it would be better to sell this vehicle and use its money to buy a better car.

How to fix this rattling noise?

As you might notice, if the rattling noise comes from the exhaust or emission systems, you'll find the faulty component and replace it if necessary. So, for example, if you confirm that the issue has to do with the muffler, you'll need to replace it. Otherwise, if the issue is related to a bad catalytic converter, you'll install a new one not only to get rid of these rattling noises but also to confirm that your vehicle passes the emission testing.

How much does it cost to fix this rattling noise?

If the rattling noise comes from a faulty muffler, repair costs are generally between $810 and 830 dollars. Labor cost is not a big deal when replacing the karma floor, but the part itself is very expensive. On the other hand, if you confirm that the issue has to do with the catalytic converter, repair costs are expected to be between $945 and $2475. This repair cost is one of the most significant repairs, and that's why we continuously ask to evaluate the situation before spending a penny replacing the catalytic converter.

3.    The rattling noise is coming from under the hood

Once you confirm that there is no rattling noise coming from the vehicle's interior or underneath the car, unfortunately, you'll have problems with the engine compartment. These problems are expected to be the most complicated and will cost you the highest repair costs.

One of the first common problems that could cause rattling noise from the engine compartment is a problem with the hydraulic valve lifter. This lifter is responsible for opening and closing the different engine valves by relying on hydraulic power. When this lifter fails, it is easy to hear some rattling noises. Many modern cars shouldn't have significant problems with this hydraulic valve lifter, but older vehicles are more susceptible to this type of damage. If you confirm that the hydraulic valve lifter is causing the issue, it is recommended that you replace the entire set of lifters because they are expected to fail simultaneously.

On the other hand, if the hydraulic valve lifter is in good condition, you must check the piston rings. As you might already know, the Pistons are the components that move up and down your cylinder and create the different pressure levels to get your air-fuel mixture ready for the explosion. Problems with the Pistons might result in rattling noises, and this situation is referred to as the piston slap. When this happens, you'll replace the Pistons and install new ones that won't make any rattling noise.

How to fix this rattling noise?

Once you confirm the root culprits of the rattling noise coming from the engine compartment, you'll fix the faulty components. For instance, if you confirm that the issue is the bad hydraulic valve lifter, you must replace it immediately. Also, if you confirm that the problem has to do with the piston slap, you must replace the bad Pistons.

How much does it cost to fix this rattling noise?

Since the problem with the rattling noises coming from the engine compartment, it is not surprising to know that these will be the most expensive repairs. For example, replacing a hydraulic valve lifter should cost you somewhere between $1000 and $2500! On the other hand, problems with the piston slab can be repaired for somewhere between $100 and $200 per piston. Therefore, you might want to do more than one person at a time, and labor costs can be a significant component because you'll need to confirm that the mechanic has the right level of mechanical skill sets to fix the problem without causing additional issues that might cost you thousands of dollars down the road.

Can I drive my car if it's making rattling noises?

As we have indicated earlier, the rattling noise can happen due to various reasons, and some of these might be OK and won't be an obstacle for you to drive your car. However, some other reasons might be linked to significant problems with the engine or the exhaust system, and that's where you're not recommended to continue driving your vehicle.

Therefore, a wise decision here is to confirm where the issue is coming from and evaluate the situation to confirm whether the issue is severe or not. For instance, if you confirm that the problem is coming from a loose component inside your vehicle's interior, you mustn't necessarily fix it immediately. On the other hand, if you confirm that the muffler is not in a new condition, you'll consult your mechanic and get an idea about how long you can drive your car without replacing the muffler.

Being proactive about this rattling noise is extremely useful and helpful to prevent paying thousands of dollars on car breakdowns. Also, the last thing you don't want to deal with is your vehicle breaking down suddenly in nowhere without any help nearby, which can be more complicated than the high repair costs that you will pay for fixing major components.


Whenever you deal with rattling noise coming from your car, you should ask yourself a question “what is that car rattling noise?” Ignoring weird noises coming from your car like these rattling noises might lead to significant problems that will cost you the entire vehicle in some instances.

This article provided you with all potential causes for rattling noises from the vehicle's interior, underneath the car, and the engine compartment. Every cause has its repair costs, and if you realize that repair costs are piling up an approaching 75% or more from your vehicle's value, it might be worth selling this vehicle instead of wasting your time and money.

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