If you notice your car making humming noise when idling, it means something has gone wrong somewhere in the vehicle.
Many drivers are put in a situation where they have to worry about this and ask questions like, Why is my car making humming noise when idling, and how can it be fixed?
Well, this article explains the possible reasons why a vehicle produces a humming sound, and these reasons vary depending on the area where the sound is heard in the vehicle and the components of the vehicle responsible for this.
After reading and understanding the content of this article, questions like why is my car making humming noise when idling, how to identify where the sounds are coming from as well as what to do to fix these problems will no longer be a headache for you.
Why Is My Car Making Humming Noise When Idling?
When you hear a humming noise at idle, it could mean that your drive belt is loose or has come off. It could also mean that one of the components driven by the belt, such as the power steering pump, air conditioning compressor, water pump, or one of the idlers that hold the belt in place, is failing or has failed.
If a car starts making a humming sound, it could be a result of various systems in the vehicle. If noise is heard when a vehicle is idling and another is heard only while the vehicle is in motion, obviously, these problems do not sound similar.
The humming noise heard when the vehicle is idle is most likely caused by a component that moves when the vehicle is idle.
It could be the drive belt or some other components which work through the belt, like the power steering pump, the water pump, the AC compressor, or an idler holding down the drive belt. When air escapes through a leak in the vehicle, it can also make a different “humming” sound.
This could be a small leak in the exhaust system or air intake system. In certain instances, driving triggers some sounds the vehicle produces when idle.
If the sound is only heard when the vehicle is in motion, it has a very high chance of being caused by the drive train. The drive train consists of the transmission, carrier bearings, wheel bearings, and drive axles.
All of these components either move or rotate while driving. If any of these components wear out, it could be responsible for the humming noise being heard due to its movement.
When these components get worn, they will make noise. At times, this wear does not need any urgent attention. However, extreme wear out requires immediate attention. The worst that could happen to a component that wears out excessively is that such a component starts failing.
This could have various effects on the vehicle, from the vehicle being unable to move to a loss in a few functionalities like air conditioning if the AC compressor fails or power steering when its pump fails.
Related: RPM Going Up And Down At Idle (Causes & Solutions)
Possible Causes of Car Making Humming Noise When Idling
1. Power Steering Pump and Its Hoses
If a power steering pump should get damaged or faulty, it can result in your car making humming noise when idling. Usually, the humming sound will be heard when the vehicle starts, especially during cold seasons, because fuel thickens as the temperature reduces.
Therefore, a humming sound is produced for about 2 to 3 minutes because the fuel being pumped has become thick.
If this is the situation, change the hydraulic booster oil with another one that does not thicken quickly when temperatures reduce. Revising the pump is highly recommended to stop it from totally breaking down.
The humming sound could also emanate from the power steering hoses if they are not where they ought to be, and most times, the humming sound is usually produced when the vehicle is idle.
To know if the hose is the cause of the noise, the steering wheel should be turned in a direction. If the noise comes up exactly when the wheel is turned, it is only right to check if the hoses are properly placed; the hoses should be straight.
It was observed that the hoses of Mercedes-Benz vehicles have more of this issue due to the “Active Body Control” feature. Drive slowly on roads that are not smooth or swing the vehicle to check this issue. In instances like this, the intensity and nature of the sound will change.
2. Worn Rear Axle Reducer
If a vehicle has an all-wheel or a rear-wheel-drive, then if the axle reducer of the rear wheels wears out, it may also result in your car making humming noise when idling, especially when the noise comes from the back region of the vehicle.
In a situation where the wheel bearing of a vehicle is damaged or the transmission oil is very low, the noise becomes louder.
The axle reducer of the rear wheels may wear out when the transmission does not have sufficient oil or if the oil has stayed for too long. A problem with the transmission itself could also be the reason.
3. Loose Engine Screws
Another reason you might notice your result in your car making humming noise when idling are loose engine screws. The vibrations which occur as a result of loose engine screws may be similar to a hum. However, this is not a major issue and tightening the engine screws resolves the problem.
4. Worn Universal Joint Shaft
When the humming sound is heard from the lower region of a vehicle, then there is a possibility that the universal joint shaft has worn out. To check this, it requires going under the vehicle as well as a few mechanical skills.
5. Exhaust Pipe
In rare circumstances, your car making humming noise when idling may be due to the exhaust pipe being fixed improperly, which makes contact with other parts of the vehicle, especially when the engine hits a particular RPM.
6. Faulty Spark Plugs
If a vehicle starts to bounce, shake or produce a weird sound when it is idle, this could indicate a problem with the spark plug that requires attention.
The ignition of a combination of air and fuel in a vehicle’s combustor is done through the spark plugs. If a plug is bad or is not installed properly, the vehicle may be using fuel at a very high rate.
A rough or noisy idle is usually among the early signs of the need to check the spark plugs without wasting much time. If this issue is quite serious, other signs like the engine jerking, shuddering, or something similar may occur while driving.
7. Leaky Vacuum Hose
All vehicles have a vacuum system responsible for pulling fuel into the engine. Most of these vehicles achieve this through a whole network of tubes and hoses. Although, some recent vehicles are made with throttle systems that maintain the flow of air through its system and engine performance.
Even vacuum pipes of the highest quality will wear out over time and get damaged, eventually requiring a replacement. Old hoses may begin to leak, giving room for excess air to combine with the fuel.
An indication of this situation is having a noisy or rough idle, especially when on a high RPM. Another sign is that the engine starts to misfire. Hence, if any of these signs are noticed by a driver, then checking the vehicle’s hoses may become necessary.
8. Carburetor Issues
In many vehicles made in the past, carburetors are used and not fuel injectors, like the more recent ones. If weird noises have been heard from under the bonnet or when a vehicle is rough idling, a problem with the carburetor may be the cause.
If the vehicle also passes out black smoke, then there is a small assurance that the carburetor is responsible for this.
Using carburetor cleaners to reduce the carbon level and maintain the carburetor’s smooth performance is a good way to maintain a carburetor and prevent it from causing bigger problems later on. Engage a professional mechanic if the problem subsists after this has been done.
9. Dirty Fuel Injector
Modern vehicles with fuel injectors are not immune to experiencing a rough idle just because they have injectors. Fuel injectors do gather dirt and particles with time as carburetors do. Likewise, fuel injector cleaners can assist in keeping the fuel injector clean and work well to its full capacity.
Related: Car Overheating When Idle (Causes & Solutions)
How to Fix Car Making Humming Noise When Idling
If you notice your car making humming noise when idling, it is possible that the vehicle’s drive belt is loose. Drive belts connect a vehicle’s engine to its alternator; if it is loose, a humming sound could come up.
This problem is usually fixed by simply tightening the drive belt. This can be done by simply lifting the vehicle’s hood and tightening the bolt with a wrench. If you are uncertain about how to go about it, assistance from a mechanic will be very helpful.
Also Read: Car Shakes When AC Is On (Causes & Solutions)
Frequently Asked Questions – Car Making Humming Noise When Idling
What’s the problem when my car engine keeps making a humming sound?
Observe where the sound is coming from so the mechanic will easily know what to look out for when diagnosing the problem. If a vehicle produces a humming sound, it could be for various reasons like the differential needs to be lubricated, transmission failure, wheel bearings, or universal joints starting to wear out.
Why is my front end humming?
Rebalance the tires and have them rotated again, ensuring that the front wheels end up on the vehicle’s rear. If this action affects the humming sound, then this is an indication that the tire has issues. If it does not affect the noise, the issue could be from the hub assembly or the front-wheel bearing.
Can a transmission make a humming noise?
A humming or buzzing sound are common sound the transmission makes. However, if a whining sound is heard, it could also indicate there is damage somewhere, especially if the transmission fluid is leaking. If the transmission sounds or feels like it’s clunking, this could mean that there is a more serious issue to tackle.
Can low transmission fluid cause humming?
If whining occurs, the transmission fluid pump might have taken a hit resulting from pump failure or a low transmission oil level.
Conclusion – Car Making Humming Noise When Idling
Humming or buzzing sounds do not just occur naturally in a vehicle. Various vehicle components may be responsible for this, such as the spark plugs, universal joint shaft, rear axles, exhaust pipe, and other components.
This shows that this sound is not restricted to one area of the vehicle. Hence, properly identifying where the sound is coming from is needed. The sounds may be heard from more than one place, which hammers the need to properly identify where the sound is being made.
Although some of these problems can be easily fixed, it is advisable to seek the assistance of a qualified mechanic when uncertain about what to do to avoid complications.