Rattling Noise When Going Over Bumps:  Causes + Diagnosis

Rattling Noise When Going Over Bumps

It can be annoying to hear a rattling noise while driving over bumps. This sound could be caused by various issues, from minor to more serious. 

Here, we’ll explore the potential causes of the rattling sound and offer possible solutions.

The most common reason for a rattling noise when hitting bumps is a loose exhaust heat shield.

Rattles VS Clunks

A rattling noise rarely indicates a serious issue, while a clunking sound usually does.  A clunking noise will usually correspond with a suspension problem.

On the other hand, a rattling noise may not be felt in the steering wheel and when going over a bump.

Rattling Noise Common Causes

Exhaust Heat Shield(s)

Rattling Noise Coming from the Rear Causes

One of the most common causes of a rattling noise is a loose exhaust heat shield. 

A heat shield’s job is to prevent heat from the hot exhaust from coming in contact with the car’s undercarriage.

Heat shields can be used at any point in the exhaust system to keep heat from radiating into the cabin or soaking into the engine.

When a heat shield becomes loose or damaged, it produces a rattling sound, which can increase as the car accelerates. Loose exhaust heat shields can affect many car brands and models. The solution to this issue is to have the heat shield reattached or replaced.

Exhaust Hangars

One other potential cause of a rattling sound could be loose exhaust hangers. Rubber hangers support the car’s exhaust system.

If they become loose or damaged, they can cause the exhaust system to vibrate with the engine, which generates a rattling or clunking noise. 

In this scenario, the rubber hangers must be reattached or replaced.

Car brands such as BMW and Mercedes that have a complex exhaust system are more likely to experience this issue. The solution to this problem is to have the hangers tightened or replaced.

Catalytic ​​Converter

Another common cause of a rattling sound coming from a vehicle is an internal rattle inside the catalytic converter.

If your vehicle’s catalytic converter is failing, it may get the P0420 OBD II code, which indicates that the catalytic converter is losing efficiency.

Suspension Components

Shock Vs. Strut

Another possible cause of the rattling noise could be damaged suspension components. If your vehicle’s struts, shocks, or other suspension parts are worn out or damaged, it can cause a rattling sound while driving over bumps. 

Car brands with a stiffer suspension, like Ford and Volkswagen, might frequently experience the issue.

The sway bar bushings are also possible causes of a rattling noise. These bushings act like a bridge between the sway bar and the frame of the car and help to reduce vibration and noise. When sway bar bushings become worn out or damaged, they can cause a rattling sound. Almost every modern vehicle uses a sway bar. 


Lastly, it is possible that smaller components like loose license plates or other miscellaneous items inside or outside of the vehicle are contributing to the rattling when going over bumps noise.

Almost anything can get loose and cause a rattling sound. Here are some other items that can cause a rattling sound.

  • Bad sway bar bushings– Sway bar bushings are a common issue that can cause a rattling noise.  It’s usually more of a squeaking sound.  
  • Worn out shock absorbers/struts–  A worn out shock or strut can cause a rattling sound.  Take a look at the rubber bushings and verify they are in good shape.
  • License Plate– A loose license plate can cause a rattling sound.  A couple of generations ago, you’d often find an empty pack of cigarettes behind the license plate to keep it from rattling.
  • Loose Brake Discs– If a disc isn’t’ attached to a caliper, it’ll rattle.  The rattling sound will go away when you push the brake pedal, and the distance between the caliper and pad decreases.


P0446 Definition

This process works better if you have a partner to listen for the clunking or rattling sound.

  1. Start the engine and keep the engine in park or neutral.
  2. Rev the engine up and down.  Hold it at different RPM levels and listen.
  3. If you hear the rattling sound, it’s likely an exhaust component since only the engine is moving.
  4. Shut the engine off.
  5. If it’s not rattling when you rev the engine, try rocking the vehicle up and down and from side to side.
  6. If you hear the rattling noise, it’s likely a suspension related issue.


Overall, it is important to identify and solve rattling sound issues before they cause further damage to the car. Do not take the rattling noise lightly, as it can indicate a more significant problem. 

By identifying the problem early and taking the necessary steps to fix it, you can avoid further issues in the future. In conclusion, if you experience rattling noises while driving over bumps, be sure to have your car inspected by a certified mechanic to diagnose the issue and correct it promptly.

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