Here’s Why Your Car Sounds Like Something Is Dragging!

Have you ever experienced a problem when you’re sure something is dragging behind your car, but after you check, there is nothing there? Well, if that’s the case, you are in the right place because, in this article, there will be a lot to cover on this problem.

Every problem in the car happens for a reason. And if something is dragging, then there is something that is causing this problem. This is why you need to do proper research and find out the possibilities.

Luckily, we are here to help you out and explain why this situation is occurring and what could be causing it to your car. So, without further ado, let’s dive into the topic.

Causes For The Dragging Noises

Let’s cover the main causes for this problem when you have something dragging behind your car but there is nothing behind. Knowing the causes is essential when it comes to tackling this problem.

1. Stuck Brake Caliper

The most common cause for the dragging noise from the car is a problem with the brakes. More specifically, a stuck brake caliper.

Modern cars are using caliper brakes in the front, as well as in the rear. The brake pads when too worn or rusted out can end up stuck to the caliper.

This situation when there is contact between the pad and the rotor can cause these dragging sounds, but there will be nothing visible in the rear.

So, if your car has this type of brakes, you have to inspect the pads, as well as the rotors, and see if they are warped. Since warped rotors can also trigger these sounds.

2. Stuck Brake Drum

Cars that have drum brakes can also make dragging noises whenever you drive the car. So, why is this the case?

This is the case because the drums as they are so called are very prone to develop rust inside and outside of the drum.

And if they are not serviced properly, the brake shoes and springs that are inside can fail and allow the shoe to rub on the wall of the drum all the time while you drive. This will cause a dragging sound while you drive the vehicle.

3. Flimsy Brake Shield

A flimsy brake shield can also trigger this type of dragging noise. So, what is a brake shield on a car?

This shield is located right behind the caliper or drum depending on the type of brakes you have. These shields are designed to keep the heat out of the sensors and brake lines.

They tend to rust quite a lot and eventually, they deform and can come into contact with the caliper or drum and develop these noises.

4. Engaged Handbrake

If your handbrake is stuck in the ON position, it can also trigger these dragging noises. Especially if your handbrake is somewhat loose.

The vehicle could move, and the brake shoes would rub the drum wall all the time. This causes noises that are best described as if something is dragging.

So, it is often advised that you check in which position is the handbrake. And if you accidentally forget the handbrake, you can simply release it and the problem will go away.

If the problem persists, you need to have the drums in the rear checked since the hydraulic slave cylinder, or the shoes are worn out and have to be replaced.

5. Bad Wheel Bearing

A bad wheel bearing can also cause a sound like something is dragging. Especially if one of the rear bearings has failed.

As you probably know, every car has four wheel bearings, one per wheel. These are roller bearings.

Over long use and abuse and also on exposure to the elements, the grease that is inside them stops doing its job and the bearing simply fails.

In this case, humming noises are common. But in more extreme cases when the bearings are too far gone, there can also be instances when something is dragging in the rear. So, whenever you are in this situation, it is a good idea that you check the wheel bearings of the car.

6. Loose Exhaust Heat Shield

A loose exhaust heat shield can also cause a dragging sound. So, why is this the case? Why is the heat shield causing this problem?

This is the case because the heat shield is attached to the body of the car. These heat shields are made from metal to prevent heat from the exhaust to enter the cabin.

In some cases, these heat shields can become loose and can start to wobble around. This will be present while you drive the car.

There will be dragging noises from the vehicle when this occurs. In these situations, your best bet would be to inspect the heat shields and whether they are properly attached. If they are loose, you will have to tighten them up in order to avoid the dragging sound from the car.

7. Saggy Exhaust

A saggy exhaust can also cause this sound when something is dragging behind the car, but nothing is.

If the exhaust is sagging, it could scrape the asphalt and cause these noises. Unless you check from underneath, you will not be able to identify the problem.

This saggy exhaust can be because of a bad exhaust hanger or rust. Rust can even make the exhaust separate into two pieces and the exhaust will drag and cause this dragging sound.

The only way around this problem is to do a repair on the exhaust system or completely replace the exhaust with a new one.


Hearing that “dragging” sound can be a really annoying problem to deal with. Luckily, in most cases, it isn’t something really expensive to tackle.

The important thing is that you do a proper inspection of the rear brakes, brake heat shields, as well as rear-wheel bearings. In most cases the brakes are the root cause and especially the drum brakes. If you got them, then they are the ones that are causing the issue. A simple rebuild will do the job.

If you cannot find the problem in the brakes, you can inspect the exhaust and also the heat shield of the exhaust. If the heat shield is loose, you will only have to reattach the component to the body of the car.

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