Are you noticing that your car makes a Whining noise when accelerating, and you want to find out why this is happening and how to fix it? Worry no more, because we have the answers you need.
There are lots of reasons your car could make a whining noise as it accelerates, such as a failing transmission oil pump, low transmission fluid, low engine oil, worn clutch or flywheel, dry, cracked, or slipping serpentine belt, among other reasons.
However, proper knowledge of the various engine parts is necessary to diagnose the exact cause of the noise, and the corresponding fix for the fault.
In this article, we will be discussing what causes your car to make a whining noise as it accelerates, and how it can be fixed.
What Causes Whining Noise When Accelerating?
Automatic and manual transmission whining sounds in a car can be caused by several factors. First, it’s important to know that not all whining sounds come from the transmission. The causes of a transmission whining noise, while accelerating are given below.
1. Bad or Failing Oil Pump
An integral component of the transmission unit is the transmission oil pump. The pump is critical in lubricating the valve’s body, and other vital internal tranny parts. It also serves the purpose of cooling the fluid, by transporting transmission fluid to the tranny cooler.
One common sign that the transmission oil pump is failing, is a transmission whining noise while driving. Thus, if you’re asking, ‘why does my car make a Whining Noise When Accelerating’, the reason could be due to a failing transmission oil pump.
If the noise is constant at every speed, this is an evident sign, that it is a failing transmission oil pump.
Also, metal shavings may be seen at removal, in the transmission crankcase’s bottom. In this case, the transmission oil pump could be wearing out.
An extremely blocked transmission filter leading to a restricted flow of fluid, a faulty front seal leading to transmission leaks, and polluted transmission fluid are all causes of a failed transmission oil pump.
It may also result from a malfunctioning transmission crankcase, leading to leaks, poor lubrication, friction, etc.
2. Low Transmission Fluid
The significance of a vehicle’s transmission fluid, can’t be overemphasized. The fluid cools and lubricates the transmission, and ensures it does not overheat.
If the transmission fluid gets extremely low, strange noises will be heard from the tranny. These sounds include grinding and whining noises due to excessive friction, on your vehicle’s moving internal components.
Whenever you observe a low transmission fluid, check whether the transmission fluid is leaking and resolve this issue, before you top up the transmission.
3. Low Engine Oil
If you notice an audible whining noise while accelerating, you should check the car’s engine oil first. A low fluid level is a major reason this issue could occur. The vehicle’s engine oil tank can be found close to the brake fluid reservoir. You can determine the correct oil level, using a dipstick.
There are two labels on a dipstick – ‘full’ and ‘add.’ You must refill the oil tank if the oil level is lower than the ‘add’ label. There’s no need to worry if the level is observed between the ‘full’ and ‘add’ labels.
Detecting these signs very early can save the vehicle from critical engine damage.
4. Clogged Transmission Filter
A restriction on your transmission passages or a clogged transmission filter can result in several transmission problems. The transmission fluid lubricates the internal components, which is essential in every tranny unit. Besides, it helps to cool the transmission.
The transmission requires a pressure of 50 to 70 PSI, to circulate transmission fluid to every component of the transmission. The fluid also keeps the vehicle’s internal components functioning well. For instance, improper lubrication can cause a faulty torque converter to make a grinding or whining noise.
So, if you are wondering what a whining noise when accelerating means, it may mean a restriction in the passage of transmission fluid. Usually, if your torque converter fails, it will keep whining until the converter fails. This also makes the vehicle produce a whirring sound when idling and driving.
5. Faulty Planetary Gear Set
A vehicle’s planetary gear set consists of the ring, planetary gears, and sun gear. These components must work together in harmony, for the car’s transmission to function properly.
The vehicle’s planetary gear may wear off over time, resulting in transmission whining noises in the neutral and park. This sound will be very obvious while driving. and will increase with an increase in the cars speed.
The planetary gear set changes the direction of output, such as reverse, increasing output speed, decreasing output speed, lowering the torque you use for overdrive, and increasing torque.
6. Bad Input Shaft Bearing
The input shaft bearing is an important but less discussed part of the transmission unit. This is an internal bearing inside a transmission housing. The output is connected to the input shaft, with a set of bearings.
The bearings let the input and output shafts rotate at different ratios. The tranny will produce a whirring sound at gear, neutral and idle if the bearings fail.
When the bearings reach a point of complete failure, the rollers located within the wheel bearing cage can dislodge and unseat, creating a very dangerous level of free play inside the hub of the vehicle.
7. Faulty Torque Converter
A torque converter is the alternative automatic vehicles have, to a clutch. When the vehicle’s engine runs, it rotates.
If this whining noise happens, when the gear is shifted to forwarding or Reverse, and the noise stops after switching to Neutral, the vehicle’s torque converter certainly has a fault.
8. Bad Throw-Out Bearing
Another critical component of the tranny in a manual transmission is the throw-out bearing. So if a whining sound is heard when the car is idle and the gear isn’t engaged, it could be that the noise is a result of a faulty throw-out bearing.
This noise, however, intensifies when you’re operating the car’s clutch, and not driving or idling.
9. Worn Clutch or Flywheel
The pressure plates in the clutch and the discs in a manual transmission, don’t last throughout the vehicle’s life.
So when clutch systems start to wear, they will emit strange sounds like whining and grinding noises. If they produce these sounds, they will need replacement or resurfacing.
10. Cracked, Dry, or Slipping Serpentine Belt
As we stated above, a vehicle’s serpentine belt drives certain components, which are important for the vehicle’s operation. However, this belt can only drive these components, if it’s in optimal condition.
With time, the serpentine belt may start cracking and drying out. Due to this, the belt can’t have a firm grip on the various accessories’ pulleys, so it usually drives as efficiently as desired. There will inevitably be belt slippage, which will increase in severity as time goes by.
The friction resulting from the serpentine belt slipping, along the exterior diameter of different pulleys, can produce significant levels of noise.
This noise is perhaps best explained as a squealing or whining noise, which tends to have an increased intensity while accelerating. Unfortunately, this added friction may also increase the damage on a serpentine belt that’s already worn, ultimately failing.
There are many instances where the squealing or whining of the serpentine belt can be annoying, and has only a small risk of leading to additional problems if it isn’t immediately addressed.
However, if a serpentine belt is severely damaged or worn, it can snap and even be thrown out of the pulleys it drives. When this happens, the operation of every belt-driven component will then be compromised, and ultimately you will be left stranded.
Also Read: Gas Leaking From Bottom of Car (Causes & Solutions)
How To Fix A Whining Noise When Accelerating
To repair a whining sound issue, you must first track down the noise source.
But if you are having difficulties tracking down where the noise comes from, we have some tips that could help you. First, place the vehicle in park, switch off all the accessories, and then rev your engine. Then, if this whining sound is still heard, it is coming from your engine bay.
You can go on and drive if you no longer hear it. When driving, all the car’s windows should be rolled up while accelerating. This will lock out almost all the sounds, but if this whining noise is still heard inside the vehicle, you will have a clearer idea of the source of the noise.
That is because, you have sealed your entire car, so you will have a more precise understanding of the direction from which the noise is being heard.
If this whining sound can’t be heard when the windows are up, or the specific place it is coming from still can’t be tracked down, repeat the process while all your windows are down.
Make sure that all your vehicle’s accessories are turned off when you are doing this, to eliminate any irrelevant noise and also limit the possible causes of this issue.
However, if while you’re doing this, you still cannot locate the source of the sound, you can ask a friend for help.
The person should stand outside your vehicle, while you drive past them to help to locate the noise. You do not want to drive quickly past them. Instead, try slowly accelerating as you drive past.
Furthermore, let them stand by the vehicle’s two sides, to check if the noise is more audible on one side of the car. If one of the sides produces a louder sound, the issue may be with the wheel well; if not, the noise is most likely coming from under your car.
How to fix Transmission Whining Noise When Accelerating
You can double-check your fluid levels if you suspect the sound is coming from the transmission. Transmissions commonly produce a lot of noise, if there are low fluid levels.
Of course, there is probably a leak somewhere in the transmission when there are low fluid levels, so you will also need to locate the leak.
You should, however, top up your transmission fluid immediately, hoping that the transmission hasn’t already been damaged, due to driving with low transmission fluid.
If your transmission fluid doesn’t have issues but is sure that the transmission is producing the noise, the issue is likely more serious and costly. At this point, the problem is with the bearings or gears; these components have a much higher repair cost.
You could use a slip-stop additive to get by a little longer, but it would be best to visit a local mechanic to get it fixed properly without delay.
How to fix DriveTrain Whining Noise When Accelerating
Two possible things could be the problem if you notice a drivetrain whining noise when you are accelerating. First, it could be that your friends are playing a prank on you. It is a common prank, to attach components like zip ties around the car’s drivetrain, which will make a lot of noise under your vehicle while driving.
This is harmless, but you must detach these objects for the noise to cease. On the other hand, you could have loose bolts or bearings. This issue is serious because, if the bearings or bolts give out, your engine could experience severe damage.
The good thing is that, it is relatively simple to inspect the drivetrain if you can easily access your vehicle’s underside.
How to fix Steering Components Whining When Accelerating
When the steering components are whining when accelerating, it can technically come from one of your wheel wells, or underneath your vehicle. This is because the steering components can be found in these two locations.
You will find your steering gearbox underneath your car; this component can whine when you have low power steering fluid levels. A whining sound may also be produced by a wheel well when the other steering components rub each other while driving.
How to fix Whining Noises From Your Wheel Wells While Accelerating
Tracking down the noise to a wheel well is a great place to begin. Although there are many possible causes in one wheel well, it isn’t a very large area, so scanning everything to determine the issue is relatively easy.
Some potential issues include worn brake pads, or a backing plate rubbing against the rotors. Although the brake pads’ squealers apply very loudly when hitting the brakes, they will often rub together the entire period you are driving, which becomes louder while accelerating.
The problem could also be worn wheel bearings. These bearings spin much faster as you accelerate, making the overall sound louder. However, although you can inspect your vehicle’s other components visually when checking for worn wheel bearings, you will need to check if there is any play inside your wheel, after torquing everything down.
It is simple to check, just jack the vehicle up and jiggle your tire, while another person ensures that your steering wheels are straight. If there is play in your tire, your wheel bearings would need a replacement.
How to fix Alternator Whining Noises While Accelerating
The alternator is a common component, that can make whining noises when accelerating. Two things can cause this noise. First, the vehicle’s pulley itself may be rusted or loose. If the problem is with the pulley, you can stop the noise by using some WD-40.
But if it is loose, you may have to either replace your pulley or tighten the bolts. However, your alternator itself might be producing a whining sound. This is because, the vehicle’s alternator is a component in motion, and if there are damaged bearings in the alternator, it will start making noise.
You will have to replace your alternator if your alternator itself is producing the whining noise.
How to fix Power Steering Pump Whining While Accelerating
The power steering pump is another component, that can create a whining noise. Just like in the case of the alternator, your pulley itself may be producing the sound. However, the issue could also be low fluid levels in the power steering pump.
While this indicates a deeper issue, since this fluid should not be going anywhere else, you just need to top the fluid up to make the whining noise cease.
But after filling the reservoir, you’ll need to take some time to locate the leak’s source, or you will keep experiencing the same issue.
How to fix Whining Noises caused by Loose Belts or Pulleys
Although we mentioned only the alternator pump and power steering pump, it does not mean that they alone could produce the whining noise. The sound could be produced by any pulley attached to the vehicle’s drive belt.
Although camshaft and crankshaft pulleys rarely experience this problem, idler pulleys are usually notorious for this.
It can be difficult to track down the exact pulley that is creating the noise – but spraying some WD-40 on each of the pulleys while the engine is running, can help track down the issue.
When you have located the pulley with a problem, WD-40 will make this pulley squeak even louder – for a temporary period.
Eventually, WD-40 may make the issue go away in cases where the issue is just rust or a similar problem. But if a loose pulley is a problem, WD-40 won’t repair the issue but will help to detect it.
How to fix Whining Noise From Speakers When Accelerating
If you’ve had your speaker components removed and then reinstalled recently, or if your vehicle has an aftermarket speaker system, you may notice a whining noise coming from your vehicle’s speakers.
Although other issues may require a lot of work in tracking down the whining sound’s location, finding the noise, in this case, is easy – tracking down the whining sound’s source may not be problematic.
Alternators or external amplifiers are the most common components responsible for speakers’ whining noise when accelerating.
If the issue is your alternator, you can install a filter for noise between the battery and alternator, or install an inline noise filter inside the head unit power cable.
Although these two solutions will not eliminate the noise the alternator produces, they will prevent the sound from being heard from the speakers. If an external amplifier likely, is producing this noise, you do not have the best ground.
To remedy this problem, simply find a better ground and use it for the external amplifier.
Also Read: Power Steering Assist Fault (Meaning, Causes & Fixes)
Frequently Asked Questions – Whining Noise When Accelerating
What can you do to fix a whining transmission?
You may notice a whining noise or sound whenever your vehicle is in motion. Sometimes, this sound occurs together with your gears slipping.
Usually, this indicates that your fluid is damaged or you have a low fluid level, which can be solved by changing your transmission fluid. However, the issue may be with the pump if the fluid has no problem.
Do transmissions make a whining noise?
In a case where the whining noise gets louder with the rev, it implies that you have a clogged transmission.
In most instances, if your fluid line is clogged, it indicates a more severe issue. If the whining noise in an automatic transmission gets higher when the car is in gear, your torque converter has an issue.
Is it possible for low transmission fluid to cause a whining noise?
Low levels of transmission fluid are the major cause of whining noise when the car is in gear for both automatic and manual transmissions. If the fluid level is very low, the transmission’s internal components will not be properly lubricated.
What causes a car to make a high-pitched whining sound?
The possible causes of a whining noise in a car, include defective brake calipers, insufficient or no lubrication on the brake components, worn-out brake pads, or just brake rotors and/or pads of low quality.
Sometimes, locating the whining noise’s source requires special tools, such as Electronic Ear Sensors.
What causes a high-pitched whine when accelerating?
You may have a worn or loose fan belt if you observe a loud or high-pitched squeal while accelerating, especially when your vehicle is warming up. Normally, worn fan belts could mean that you must replace the timing belt.
When I drive, why does my car sound like it’s whining?
Although this sound is most likely caused by the transmission, whining when accelerating could also occur due to low power steering fluid or even more critical damage, such as a malfunctioning AC compressor, faulty water pump, defective alternator bearings, or a faulty piston.
It may be challenging to diagnose the noises coming from your vehicle, but after some time, and with help, you could have a better idea of what the issue may be, and what it takes to resolve the issue.
Remember to note the various sounds, and try your best to determine where these noises are coming from. A mechanic, however, has a lot of experience and diagnostic tools to help check out your engine.
Do not forget to address the issue with haste, to avoid eventually carrying out expensive repairs. Sometimes, the problem is something you can repair with help from a friend, or even yourself.
It is sensible to carry out regular maintenance on your vehicle and rectify any issues, whether your mechanic does so for you or you do this yourself. You will be making sure that your vehicle performs efficiently and safely so that you will avoid problems when driving.