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Nuisance NoisesNotes From The Road

Nuisance Noises
By Phil Coconis/

Winning the Squeak-and-Rattle Battle -
Perhaps one of the most annoying problems you'll find in a vehicle is a nuisance noise. While not necessarily a hazard, that irksome rattle or squeak can drive you batty on even a short trip. Maybe you figure you can live with those auditory interruptions—just turn up the volume on your sound system and forget about it. Or, you can figure out how to track them down and eliminate them. If you have mischievous small children, or you purchased your vehicle used, you might be surprised at what you'll find behind the A/C vents.

Vent System
Noises Coming From Underneath the Dash Are Annoying
Since noises coming from underneath the dash are the closest in proximity, and therefore the most annoying, we'll focus on how to eliminate those. Under-dash noises, in the form of squeaks, rattles, clicks, pops, and buzzes, are often signs of trouble in their early stages. Left unattended, they could lead to more serious consequences, such as wiring harness abrasion and subsequent circuit problems, under-lubrication and vibration-related component failure, or, at least, inefficient function of components. That proverbial "squeaky wheel" needs to get the "grease."
Which brings up an interesting point: On many passenger vehicles, some under-dash component lubrication is actually required periodically – a point often missed even by those who should know better. Let's first consider potential noisemakers, and then we will discuss how to isolate the offending component, and the proper technique to silence it.
Weak Links
Many Control Levers and Pedals Require Periodic Cleaning and Lubrication
All of the control pedals – accelerator, brake, clutch, parking brake (if so equipped) – have linkage systems that periodically need cleaning and lubrication. This is also true of many control lever designs used with parking brake handles. Steering columns often have universal joints near the base of the floorboard, requiring some sort of a protective boot which can be knocked out of alignment, causing noise.
Wiring harnesses are generally held in place by ties or clips, but these clips can weaken or break, and ties need to be tightened periodically. Relay units are often mounted or secured by clips, ties, bands, or screws, and those come loose or fail periodically. Screws, bolts, nuts, or clips often secure service covers and shields, and they, too, need periodic maintenance.
Let's not neglect the variety of aftermarket accessories that mount under the dash as well, such as alarm controls, trailer brake units, cruise control, and air conditioning units (less common these days), sound system components, etc. These units are often not mounted as securely as original equipment components, and can often be the source of under-dash noises, requiring more creative solutions to secure and immobilize them.

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