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Car Problem Recorder

A device that captures those pesky problems you can't seem to satisfactorily recreate or describe to the mechanic.
  [vote for,

Have you ever found yourself at a loss for words while trying to explain what your car has been doing?

My car is currently making a strange clunking noise when I brake firmly toward a stop. Have the mechanic drive the car a bit? Well, I did, but the problem is that it fades during the trip and is only audible during the first few stops of my trip, and only when I brake firmly. I mentioned how it's loudest when the car is first started up to the guy, but the mechanic had the thing for a week (for a different problem) and said he couldn't hear anything. In the end, it's still klunking and I don't know what's wrong with it.

Anyway, I thought a device that could capture the sound (and perhaps visuals as well) may come in handy for times like these.

Sure, a tape or video recorder may do the trick, but an auto-specific recorder may have other fantastic uses never before fathomed. If technology catches up, it may even be able to record smells and or motions/vibrations for better diagnosis. Besides, I don't own a recorder at the moment.

XSarenkaX, Sep 04 2003

OBD http://www.onboarddiagnostics.co.uk/
Similar [DeathNinja, Oct 04 2004]

try the Starman's lane. http://www.halfbake...ise_3f_22_20lane_2e
[po, Oct 04 2004]

Why Nestor? http://search.yahoo...&ei=UTF-8&fr=fp-top
Inspired by a specific line off an X-Files episode: "I'd invite you to have a drink with us but Nestor hates you." [XSarenkaX, Oct 04 2004]


       beer bottles in the boot.
po, Sep 04 2003

       Have you got a dodgy knee? Was the mechanic wearing ear plugs or listening to the radio too loud?
silverstormer, Sep 04 2003

       [silverstormer]: I don't think the mechanic was braking hard enough. It is kinda faint, too. You have to listen for it, especially if it's not the first brake of the trip.   

       [Mr Burns]: "Check for a cracked rotor or a broken spring, strut or shock.. " you say? I will - thanks. The best I got from them is that I may need new brakes. I thought it was something loose in the back wheel. (Noise seems to come from the rear of the vehicle.)
XSarenkaX, Sep 04 2003

       What kind of car? Front, rear, or all-wheel drive? How old/miles?   

       It could be a loose brake caliper but maybe a CV joint that's failing. That doesn't really explain why it would go away after the first few brakings, though.   

       One question: when you hear these clunks, is it only after you have backed out of a parking space? Can you reproduce the clunking by backing up, applying the brakes and then driving forward and trying to brake?   

       Sometimes a worn brake pad can vibrate briefly and it just seems like a clunk sound. Once it warms up it stops vibrating.   

       I'm grasping at straws here.
bristolz, Sep 04 2003

       My car (named "Nestor") is a 1999 Honda Civic HX (has a fresh CVT tranny in it) with about 35+k miles on it. Front wheel drive, I believe.
XSarenkaX, Sep 04 2003

       play the tape backwards, you might hear John Lennon.
po, Sep 04 2003

       I was thinking that the vibrations make the noise seem louder then they really are and the Mech. is numb to all that vibration.
barnzenen, Sep 04 2003

       Well, come to think of it, I do need to back up before driving out and hearing the noise. I shall have to back into my driveway tonight and listen tomorrow morning to see if it still happens the same way.
XSarenkaX, Sep 04 2003

       Well, I can say with certainty that it is definitely NOT an ABS problem - Nestor's not equipped.
XSarenkaX, Sep 04 2003

       Here's a start - Honda's Owner Link website contains a service visit prep form with detailed problems to check off, as well as this handy glossary of semi-standardized names for all those noises (sorry, no URL - it's in its own popup window):   

       Vehicle Sounds
The following noises may help you in detailing your vehicle's condition to your service advisor.

       Booming - rhythmic sound like a drum roll or distant thunder.
Buzzing - low-pitched vibration, similar to that of a bee.
Chattering - a clicking metallic noise that repeats rapidly.
Chirping - high-pitched noise similar to a bird.
Clicking - rhythmic tapping sound similar to that of a ball-point pen.
Clunking - a dull thumping, like something being dropped.
Grinding - a loud abrasive, metallic noise, often high-pitched.
Growling - low noise like that of an animal.
Humming - continuous noise which may be somewhat melodious.
Knocking - a banging noise with two objects hitting (heavy vs. light) one another.
Rattling - shaking sound, as if something is loose.
Rumbling - a low, gurgling noise.
Squeaking - high-pitched metallic sound, often continuous.
Squealing - high-pitched whine as if something is tearing.
Tapping - light hammering noise that can be rhythmic or intermittent.
Thud - low-pitched metallic thumping.
Thumping - a loud, banging sound.
Whining - high-pitched buzzing sound.

       Perhaps the word I need to use is "tapping"?
XSarenkaX, Sep 04 2003

DeathNinja, Sep 04 2003

       Bless you, [DN]
silverstormer, Sep 04 2003

       Brake dancing?
bristolz, Sep 04 2003

       //Well, come to think of it, I do need to back up before driving out and hearing the noise. I shall have to back into my driveway tonight and listen tomorrow morning to see if it still happens the same way.//   

       I did not do anything in reverse today (that sounds kinda funny) and the "tapping" or "clunking" occurred just as before. I don't seem to go fast enough in reverse to re-create the noise, either. I did, however notice it happened on a somewhat fast turn (with no brakes applied).   

       Does any of that narrow down the broken prize selection?
XSarenkaX, Sep 05 2003

       //Sorry that I cannot hear it firsthand.//   

       So am I. Wish this recorder thing was for real...
XSarenkaX, Sep 09 2003

       Tada! It IS real...now. I just saw on CNN the other day, that a new device has been created to do just what I suggested in my idea here. It's a complex series of microphones that can create a visual map of the sound sources occurring in a car. Unfortunately, I couldn't find a relevant link, but Erica Hill reported on this new device just yesterday morning or so...honest! (If you can find a link, please post it.)   

       Another of my wonderful ideas has been baked in the real world! Maybe I AM making a difference.
XSarenkaX, Mar 10 2004

       Update: I finally got my noise eliminated. Apparently, the problem was rust on the rear left brake drum. It took several cleanings before enough of the rust was removed, but my car is currently clunk-free.   

       Thanks to everyone for your suggestions and advice.
XSarenkaX, Mar 26 2004


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