Noise Vibration Harshness | Did You Hear Something?

 Noise Vibration Harshness


Now that the warmer weather is here many of us are driving with our windows and sunroofs open.  Ah the wind in my hair and the sound of the open road.  But wait!  What is that sound?  Is there an alarm clock in my dash or am I dragging my cutlery drawer behind me?

Most automotive pinging, clunking and grinding are annoying and worrisome.  They are also finicky to repair the first time.  The technical term for this racket is Noise Vibration Harshness, or NVH.  To assist diagnosing and repairing your NVH issue, it helps to do a little investigation yourself and learn some common terms.  Better communication between you and your service advisor will save both of you some time and frustration. is a great website and app to help you clarify the right noise and descriptions.  Repair shops will probably not use the phrases “cutlery drawer” or “80’s Electronica Music” to describe a noise. They would use words like “clunk”, “groan” or “squeal.”

Do a little homework before you drop your car off at the dealership:

– Note when the noise is most apparent.  Is it more noticeable in wet weather or on bumpy terrain?  Does it change with your speed or only happen when you take a corner?
– What side is coming from?  Drive around some tall buildings with your windows open.  The sound should bounce off the structures and help you pinpoint the area it is coming from.
– If you can, record the noise with you Smartphone.
– Inspect your vehicle for loose trim. Take particular interest in the wheel wells, under carriage and bumpers.  Does the exhaust appear to be loose or are some hangers/clamps missing?
– Did you do something new with your vehicle recently?  Maybe that new tire installation needs to be double checked for loose parts or to see if the tires are rubbing the vehicle body.
– If you suspect it’s the bumpy road causing the noise; park it and try bouncing all four corners of your vehicle up and down to see if you can duplicate the sound.
– Roof racks can cause a bit of wind noise.  The cross-bars should be moved as far back as possible and tightened.  If they are designed to be detachable, store them in the garage.
– Do a little spring cleaning.  Loose items in the trunk or passenger area often the source of that annoying clicking. As a matter of fact the annoying rattle I once had was my son’s rock collection that he kept the storage bin near his seat.
– Borrow another set of ears.  Have a friend, or even your mechanic, take a ride with you. Have them sit in both the front and back seats to hear the noise for themselves.


Exercising all these tips should help you clear up that pesky NVH with a little less frustration!