When your car is acting up, you can't always tell what's wrong until you get under the hood and start looking for the problem. However, the noise it makes while driving or even just running can often give you a clue as to what's wrong and what you might face by way of repair bills. Note a few tips for troubleshooting your car problems by the noise it makes and be sure to describe those sounds to a car service mechanic so he or she can also know where to start looking for the problem.
If your car makes a loud squealing noise when it starts, this usually means a belt is starting to break. Those belts aren't moving until you turn on the car and then they may squeal as they rotate around different pulleys. Once they get moving and get warm, they may get softer so they don't squeal, but this doesn't mean they're in good repair. Chances are one will break very soon. Try to let your car sit and then have someone start it while you look under the hood and note which belt is making the noise; it could be the fan belt or the belt around the alternator.
If your car squeals when you make a sharp turn, this usually means it has bad bearings. Bearings are like large metal balls that allow the car's wheels to turn rather than only moving straight ahead. When they begin to wear out, you'll hear them squeal as the car's wheels rub up against them.
If your car grinds when you release the brake pedal, the brake pads are probably slipping out of place and are still holding the wheel. This happens when they get worn and need replacing. If you hear what seems like grinding when your car hits a bump, this can mean worn shocks or springs that don't cushion the car's impact.
A clicking sound usually means the car's electrical systems are failing. Rather than having mechanical parts turn on and operate the way they should, a lack of electricity will mean that connectors just click. You may hear this clicking when your car first starts or hear it when you turn on an electrical component such as the dashboard fan. In some cases the car and other features may operate as they get some power from the battery, but this clicking usually means the battery is dying or there is a poor connection to the battery and other parts, usually from frayed and bare wires.