Rick's Free Auto Repair Advice

Find and fix squeaks chirps and rattle noises in your car

Use an electronic stethoscope to find and fix squeaks chirps and rattle noises in your car

Image of chassis ears, steelman, 06600, used to find suspension noise, squeaks, rattles, clunk, thumping noise. Used to Diagnose squeaks, clunks, and rattles electronically

Steelman wired version of Chassis Ears

People write to me all the time asking for help finding the cause of squeaks chirps and rattle noises in their car. Unfortunately, this is almost always AFTER they’ve taken it to a shop, and the techs have guessed at the problem and replaced hundreds of dollars worth of parts. That’s really a shame and it’s NOT the way a pro should approach the diagnosis. The best way to locate squeaks chirps and rattle noises in your car is with an electronic stethoscope.

If you are dealing with a noise problem, here’s how to be PROACTIVE with your mechanic. Ask the shop if they own a tool called a Chassis Ears. The tool is made by Steelman. They make two versions—wired and wireless. The kit has clip-on microphones that the technician attaches to the most likely causes of the noise. The wired kit has 6 microphones, the wireless kit has 4. After attaching the microphones, the tech drives the car and listens to each microphone from inside the vehicle. He simply switches from one to the next. This test NAILS the problem without any guessing.

Do it yourself noise diagnostics

The wired version is far less costly and works just as well. However, it takes a bit longer to install. The wired version costs around $101 at Steelmantools.com and it’s worth every penny since it pinpoints the exact cause of the noise so you don’t replace perfectly good parts.

It’ll pay for itself even if you only use it once. If you want to recoup some of your investment, use it to find the cause and then sell it on eBay when you’re done with it.

Image of Steelman wireless chassis ears to Diagnose squeaks, clunks, and rattles electronically rattles, clunk, thumping noise

Steelman wireless chassis ears

I’ve used this tool several times and each time I have been surprised by my findings. It’s RARELY the part you think it is. In one case I found a cracked spring that wasn’t even visible when I first inspected it. But once the microphone was attached, it was a dead giveaway.

This tool kit is a MUST for any professional shop that wants to do noise diagnostics. That’s why you should ask upfront if they own one. If they don’t, FIND ANOTHER SHOP!

You can usually find both the wired version (model #06600) and the wireless version (model #97202). You may even save some cash by buying a used one and trying it yourself BEFORE you take it to a shop.

© 2012 Rick Muscoplat

Posted on by Rick Muscoplat

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