I begin by admitting the only things I know about cars are what I have misremembered hearing on Car Talk. Looking for some insight as it has seemed to stump the garage I brought it to and my dad, brother and boyfriend who are all pretty good with cars.
2003 Monte Carlo SS - about a year ago I started noticing a strange sound at low speeds (possible I just can’t hear it at higher speeds), especially when making turns but more recently on straight roads too and noticeably worse when the AC is on (in fact, when it first started, it seemed to only happen when making right turns with the AC on.) Didn’t have the money to fix it, was embarrassed about that so I made the ever-mature decision to ignore it.
The sound is hard to describe (and not helped by the fact that I am hard of hearing) but the descriptors that get the most agreement are: 1) it sounds like a coffee percolator and 2) it sounds like a small clawed animal is trying to escape the inner workings of my car and 3) sounds like the chain on a boat anchor as each link is knocking into the boat one by one as the anchor is being slowly pulled up. As I said, it used to be a more occasional sound, but it is constant now when i am not at highway speeds/accelerating - worst when the AC is on, but so long as I am not accelerating I have heard it at speeds up to 45mph on a straight, flat road. It sounds creaky and knocky - sometimes it feels like something wants to fly off the car or is flapping around under the hood/under the car just waiting for the chance to break off.
More recently, some dash lights came on - “traction off” “abs” and the warning light telling me to service the traction system. I opted NOT to ignore potential brake issues and took it to a local garage that my father and a close friend trust for both this and the noise. They called me to discuss the problems they found - they told me that a bearing had cut a wire in my traction system which was making the lights on my dash go on and that the sound was the honeycomb material in my catalytic converter being all torn up and knocking around inside so I had to replace it. I also gave them a go-ahead on a 100,000 mile service and oil change. They also called me back to say that my spark plugs had gotten stuck so instead of just swapping them, they had to do an additional repair on that - I had recalled a few times Click and Clack mentioning this is not the least common thing in the world so I didn’t blink and when I picked up the card I was happy to pay $1995.00 for a car that wouldn’t give me anxiety.
Only, that lack of anxiety lasted about 30 min.
I noticed the sound but (remember how much I know about cars …) thought that it was maybe some of the honeycomb whatever still working its way out of my exhaust system? But after briefly parking at home, I restarted it to run out to the store and the dash lights all came back on for my ABS/Traction. I called my brother who implied I was naive for believing I needed a new catalytic converter at all and believing them when they said it was causing the noise. When i got a hold of my dad, same reaction about how I should not have let them replace the catalytic converter and that there was no chance a bad one would have made that noise (he had heard the noise). My boyfriend was puzzled as to how the catalytic converter would make the noise he had also been hearing but was sweet enough to only wince when I told him how much it cost to replace it instead of acting like I should have known better than the mechanics whose expertise I was paying for.
The garage was very sweet about it - I brought it back over the next day and they told me the ABS/Traction/Warning lights were because a wire had simply come loose and that they had no idea what was causing the sound, but they would throw the car on a lift and lube the front end for me and as I drove and worked it through, the sound would go away! I skipped out of there again feeling warm and fuzzy.
That was exactly a week ago.
Yesterday the traction/abs/warning lights all came back on. The sound has not gotten any better and now that it is getting warm and I am using the AC, the sound is getting worse with the AC and its rattling/knocking constantly - it was slightly better when I picked it up the first time, but its just as bad as ever now and at no point has the sound ever gone away completely.
I need to absolutely take it back for the stupid traction issue, but I want to address the sound too since I paid a pretty penny to replace a catalytic converter which they assured me was causing it. Any ideas on what the sound might be? Suggestion as to things I can ask them to check?
I am feeling really stupid and naive and the idea of bothering the garage for the 3rd time about the same problems makes me feel like a jerk. I could really use a bit of insight - thanks in advance.