Why do my car tires sound like a helicopter? 6 reasons to look for!

By Arif

Tire issue making helicopter sound

A helicopter has been chasing you constantly on the road and you look through the windows but find nothing. Suddenly, you realize that the sound is actually coming from your car tires. You start wondering why my car tires sound like a helicopter.

Yes, instances like this happen when there are problems related to tires and some car components that release awkward sounds due to malfunctioning.

Proper inspection and repair are a must when you hear sounds from your car that resemble a helicopter flying in the air.

In this post, I will tell you about the causes and solutions to overcome the troubling sounds of helicopters from your car.

Why do my car tires sound like a helicopter?

One of the main reasons car tires sounding like a helicopter is an improper rotation or balancing of wheels that makes the tires lose.

When the tires are loose, they don’t get enough traction to continue the movement which makes them wear down quickly creating weird sounds.

Insufficient tire pressure and defective wheel bearings are some of the other causes related to helicopter sound coming from car tires.

Apart from the tires, there could be a leakage in the exhaust system and issues with braking functionality that also causes your car to make a helicopter sound.

Whatever the reason, it is important to discontinue your journey and take your vehicle to the nearest service station or a technician to find the issue and resolve them immediately.

For a better understanding and how you can avoid such sounds let’s deep dive into the causes further!

Running the car on loose tires

If your car is running on loose tires it is bound to make sounds resembling a flying helicopter or an airplane.

What causes tires to become loose? There are different factors associated with a loose tire. First of all, you must consider the condition of the tire (s). Have they been running for a long time without any maintenance? Are the tires brand new or recently changed and rotated?

Taking the first scenario, if the tires are too old and do not get any service chances of loosening parts is quite common. Some of them are lug nuts, wheel bearings, etc.

If the tires are not maintained and serviced periodically wheel bearings can become loose and surrender their grips that control the spinning.

Wheel bearings are important to spin the wheels with little friction and prevent the wheels from on-road obstacles with its seal.

Similarly, lug nuts that are used to secure a wheel to a vehicle’s axle can also lose their tightness which compromises the security of the wheel.

Both deficiencies could lead to the early wearing of tires, and unclasp the grip and tightness to hold the tires together resulting in loud sounds. 

On the other hand, if you have recently changed or rotated the tires you can hear bizarre sounds while driving. Likewise, some types of brand-new tires do make sounds in the initial stages of running.

The rotation process involves the balancing of wheels. Tires remain loose and generate lots of noise if the process is not performed appropriately.

Wheel balancing process

Driving with loose tires carries risks of accidents and injuries and severe damage to your car’s functionality.

The process of connecting loose tires is more manageable but not recommended under DIY (do it yourself). The best way to get rid of such sounds is to take them to a technician for quick fixes.

It is always important to maintain the tires from time to time and keep them properly inflated.

Secondly, take a test drive and check the performance of the tires whenever you are collecting the vehicle after servicing.

In case you detect or hear any irregular sound ensure the vehicle is re-checked by the technicians and necessary steps are taken to resolve the issues.

Improper tire pressure

Regardless of the helicopter sound you hear or not, keeping tires underinflated is always risky.

With low pressure, tires have to work harder to keep rolling themselves. This in turn reduces traction and increases the risk of wear and tear and overheating.

Due to low pressure and overheating, fuel economy is badly impacted which puts more pressure on the engine and other components of your vehicle.

At this stage, it is possible to hear humming sounds that are mistaken for a helicopter noise. More than the tires, the sound could be coming from the engine, a fan, or any other part sitting under the hood.

It is a proven fact that properly inflated tires are always beneficial in saving fuel and preventing damage to other vehicle parts.

If the tire pressure is okay and you still hear the noise it may be best to have a professional inspect your vehicle.

Leaking exhaust system

An exhaust system is essential to keep your vehicle less exhausted from the harmful chemicals of the burning fuel. There are reasons that contribute to the leakage from the exhaust system.

Unburned fuel, excessive heat, and improper maintenance are a few of them. If there is an unexpected leakage or a crack developed in the tailpipes or to other exhaust exits your car may begin to release black smoke at full speed with a great amount of helicopter-like noise.

The noise may worsen when you accelerate the car as the acceleration puts more pressure on the exhaust system.

Without any further delay, the vehicle must be taken for urgent repairs as the leak can cause further damage to the exhaust system and even impact the car’s fuel efficiency.

Defective wheel bearings

Wheel bearings, as the name suggests are responsible to bear the rolling of wheels.

Most of the wheel bearings possess a seal to protect the wheels from water and debris that allow them to run with less amount of friction. The seal is also important to control the spinning of wheels.

When the seals are broken or worn out it unbalances the movement of wheels causing them to vibrate and make whirring noise again mistaken for the helicopter sound.

Running with defective wheel bearings could damage or cause uneven wear on the tires which can be harmful. Never ignore such signs/noise and get it repaired as soon as possible.

Multiple tire issues

When the tires are not maintained properly, they tend to get damaged, get out of balance, and wear out early.

Early wearing or damage on tires is a result of excessive running especially under demanding conditions.

Tire rotation is also one of the causes you may hear helicopter-like sounds. This is because rotation techniques performed non-professionally could lead the tires to develop uneven wearing patterns and dislodge the alignment of wheels.

Both issues expand their effects significantly if no proper attention is given at the right time.

Negligence in such cases could spoil the rubber and damage the conditions so bad that the tires start to make weird sounds.

Wheel alignment and wheel balancing are the two most common parts of every car service.

Make sure this is taken care of as per the schedule and avoid over-speeding in harsh weather conditions to keep the tires in good shape.

Braking system problems

Brakes are one of the most-used parts in a car. Because of the extensive usage, there are chances of brake parts getting faulty or defective.

Braking system parts such as a brake caliper, and brake rotor are vulnerable to twists and tears.

A brake caliper is instrumental in creating friction to slow or stop the car. The process is performed with the help of pistons that press the brakes against a brake rotor when you apply brakes. The piston movement relies on the brake fluids.

Car braking system

It is similar to catching a running wheel with your oily hands where your hands are considered as a caliper.

When the brake caliper loses its grip, it puts more pressure on the rotors to stop the car. In the process, rotors grind themselves incessantly against the disc’s surface causing crunching sounds.

Likewise, a brake rotor is a metal disc mounted to the hub or axle of a wheel. It spins with the wheels under the shadow of brake pads.

When you press the brake pedal, brake pads squeeze against the rotor creating friction to slow down or stop the car.

A defective brake rotor impacts the disc’s internal structure damaging the brake pads. As a result, you will sense vibration along with rubbing or grinding noise when applying the brakes.

It doesn’t make sense to keep the braking system defective as it may cause severe damage to other parts especially wheels and also could be hazardous for your own life.

Ensure to fix the issues related to brakes as soon as they are detected by taking your vehicle to a professional automobile repairer.

Other miscellaneous causes for helicopter sound

Cars are also prone to making helicopter sounds for the following reasons:

  • Malfunctioning of the parking brakes (hand/emergency brakes)
  • Defective fan blades
  • Faulty catalytic converters
  • Engine problems
  • Flawed gearbox causing transmission failure
  • Motor bearing and pump defects

The sound may vary depending on the type of defect in a car but most of the time assumed as a helicopter flapping on the ground.

Final thoughts

Tires making sounds while driving is a big cause of concern. It could be screeches, flapping, thuds, grinds, etc. all sounding like a helicopter when you hear it sitting inside the car. The moment you start hearing them it is always a best practice to stop immediately.

In most circumstances, it’s the condition of tires and the parts associated with them that begin to sing a song. The other noteworthy contributions are made by the exhaust and braking systems.

Tire problems are something you can catch on the spot. The rest of the terms are very technical in nature and are caused by long pending maintenance, negligence, and a casual driving approach.

If you are new to helicopter-like sounds coming from your car it is important to take it for a thorough inspection and make sure all the issues are appropriately fixed.

I am sure by reading this post you are now in a better position to understand the causes and precautions to apply when your car (tires) sounds like a helicopter.

If you come across any other reason that you feel is important to add to this section do leave them with your valuable comments.

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I am the founder of TheCarPlus. As a passionate car owner and enthusiast, I offer practical solutions and insights from my own personal experiences combined with extensive online research.

The purpose of creating this website is to empower fellow car owners and motorcyclists like 'YOU' with knowledge and practical solutions to enhance your vehicle's performance and aesthetics.

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