Top five 'spooky' car noises and what they mean

  • We explain the top five strangest car noises and what they are likely to mean
  • What to do if there's no simple explanation for 'spooky' noises
  • Where you stand from an insurance perspective 

If you hear a high-pitched howl or a loud creaking noise from your car this Halloween (October 31) should you be spooked or could there be a simple explanation? 

Here we run through the most common strange noises you might hear and what they are likely to mean. 

1. Knocking or bumping noise

If your car is making a strange bumping or knocking sound then this could be a sign of a mechanical problem. These noises are usually related to the suspension, with the bushes and rear springs common failure areas. Alternatively, if the knocking is heard from under the dashboard, it may indicate an issue with the steering column.

2. Loud creaking 

Creaking noises in cars are common and often caused by a problem with the interior of the car, with a broken clip or poorly fitted piece of trim resulting in a creaking sound from the dashboard or doors. Worn suspension or an issue with the power steering system can also be to blame. 

Pumpkin In Door Mirror

3. High-pitched howling  

If your car greets you with a high pitch howl when you start the engine then one of the belts may be worn or slipping. If the noise occurs when you have the steering wheel on full turn, the power steering pump may be worn or the fluid level low. Beware of squealing noises when you apply the brakes, this probably indicates the brake pads are worn and need to be replaced. 

4. Scratching and clawing noises 

If you can hear strange scratching sounds when you get into your car, then you may have a rodent problem. Cars that are parked up for long periods are often targeted by mice or rats. Car manufacturers are using more plant-based biodegradable materials, which are tempting and tasty treats for rodents who live nearby. 

 5. Deep rumblings 

A deep rumbling sound at start-up can indicate a split or crack within the exhaust system. It could also result from dirty or worn fuel injectors which are preventing the engine from running on the correct fuel mixture. Rumbling noises that occur when you are driving may indicate worn or uneven tyre wear. A bad wheel bearing will also produce a deep humming or rumbling sound. 

None of those things? Could your car be haunted?

If there is no mechanical explanation and you fear your car is haunted, the most important thing to remember is not to panic, according to Spectrum Paranormal Investigations.

It advises car owners to write down distinctive details that happen during a paranormal experience. Be on the alert for:

  • Audio: Disembodied voices, knocking, bumping and screaming
  • Visual: Full manifestations, flashes of light, smoke, mist and ghostly images in mirrors
  • Physical: Objects moving or going missing, temperature changes or unusual smells (rotten eggs, cigars and flowers are key indicators of spirit activity)

Burning Sage And Crystals

For those bad energies that no amount of cleaning product will shift, there are a host of other options at a car owner’s disposal, according to Spectrum Paranormal Investigations. It says there are good and evil out there so it’s important to remember that positive attracts positive, negative attracts negative so ward off spirits and promote positive energy you could try:

  • Burning Sage – known as smudging, this Native American spiritual ritual uses sage leaves to purify the air and promotes healing and wisdom
  • Wicca - traditional pagan methods which use spells that must cause no harm, to heal and empower
  • Crystals – many of which are thought to have protective properties and healing powers
  • Spraying ionised – used to charge negative ion energy and purify the air

Spectrum Paranormal Investigations says you should never try to make direct contact with ‘the unknown’ using means of communication, such as Ouija or séance unless you are familiar with these methods. Leave it to the experts.

If you don't want to hire a paranormal investigation team to investigate your case you could sell your car to a haunted museum or collector.

How do you claim for ghostly damage? 

According to Jade Devlin, Car Insurance Expert at NFU Mutual, while unexpected events can and do lead to accidents and damage to vehicles, it’s unlikely that a haunting or supernatural event will be a valid reason to claim on your car insurance.


“When you come to claim on your insurance, it’s important you are honest with your insurer about the reasons for claiming," she said. 

“The effect of what might seem like a supernatural event might be relevant to your claim, but it will not cover for any fault in the driver and policyholders should not try to explain away accidents with paranormal excuses.”

Am I obliged to disclose to my insurer the car is haunted?

According to Jade Devlin, Car Insurance Expert at NFU Mutual If there is a known problem with your vehicle, supernatural or otherwise, you should notify your insurer before you take out cover.

"It’s always best to tell your insurer what’s going on," she says. 

Do haunted cars cost more to insure?

There are a number of different things which go into pricing car insurance, including the age and make of the vehicle, where the vehicle is kept, and the history of the driver, according to Jade Devlin, Car Insurance Expert at NFU Mutual.

"The level of supernatural activity doesn’t figure into these calculations, but the effects of a haunting – whether that’s faults or if it’s led to a previous claim – could impact on premiums,” she says. 

Can I claim for a 'supernatural' car incident?

If your car was damaged or involved in an accident that you think was caused by a supernatural incident, what should you do?

Jade Devlin, Car Insurance Expert at NFU Mutual, says: “Whenever you make a claim, you should give your insurer all the relevant details relating to that claim. If something unexpected led to an accident or damage to your vehicle then you should let your insurer know – it may not be a supernatural event, but it might just be relevant to your claim.”

Ask HJ

Is my Peugeot 206 haunted by a poltergeist?

The headlights and dashboard of my Peugeot 206 come on when the car is switched off. When I open the driver's door they turn off. There's also high pitch screeching from behind the dash.
General electrical failure. Screeching probably the alternator. If you think it's worth repairing, call in a local 'car electrical specialist'
Answered by Honest John
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Ask HJ

Why does my car make creaking noises when reversing?

I have a Volkswagen T-Roc and when reversing the car makes creaking noises. What is the cause?
This reads like the hill hold assist system disengaging. It's a device that holds the brake and prevents the car from moving forwards/backs until the clutch is engaged. If the car is very new, it will make a few noises as it wears in.
Answered by Dan Powell
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