What's that noise?

I have a 1983 Toyota Tercel SR5. The car runs really well, however I have encountered a problem. When I accelerate there’s this rattle-like sound that gets louder as I go faster. I was with my father and we had to speak louder to talk. He suggests that the noise is not in the engine but could be in the drivetrain. The noise is not changing with the engine RPM, just the car. It goes with the sound of the wheels; the faster I go, the sound gets louder. It sounds serious, but how? What are some of my options? Is it my drivetrain? Or my brakes?

Check that all wheel lug nuts are tight. If OK, one possibility is worn CV joints in the front drive train. The sound may vary depending on where you are steering; tends to be loudest, or show up first, when the steering wheel is turned quite far and the car is then accelerated.

I would have your wheel bearings and cv joints checked.

I wholeheartedly agree that it’ll very likely be a wheel bearing or CV joint (my money is on a CV joint), however be careful to clearly describe the symptoms to the shop and let them do the diagnosis.

Next time you are in a big empty parking lot, try making a couple of slow, sharp turns from a stop, both right at left. Do you notice any knocking or clicking sounds? That would usually be a CV joint is failing. Wheel bearings don’t typically make a rattling sound, usually reported as a “roaring” sound, but I suppose if one got real loose it could rattle. That would be easy for a shop to diagnose. Could be brakes too, a visual inspection would diagnose that. Easier if you can pinpoint which wheel it is. What else? hmm … Something in the exhaust system could be rattling, like the cat shield, fairly common complaint; and pretty much anything laying around in the trunk could rattle. Maybe remove everything from the trunk, including the spare tire and jack, see if that helps; and the suspension system could rattle, most noticeable going faster as the force of the bumps are more pronounced going faster.