Question for car mechanics or car people.

I own a 2009 Kia Spectra. I’ve had it for about 2 years and I have noticed many times when I first start it and begin to drive, I hear a sound like water swishing back and forth in a container. It seems to be coming from beyond the dash area. I have not noticed it affecting the performance of the car, but it does make me wonder what it is and can it be fixed? How expensive of a repair is it?


My first thought is that the A/C evaporator housing has water trapped in it due to a clogged drain tube. Easy and cheap to fix – just unplug the tube.

Just a WAG: When was the last time you topped off your windshield washer fluid?

I added more wiper fluid a few months back, but honestly, the noise has been showing up for longer than that.

My first suspicion is air in the cooling system. Some cars have specific procedures to follow when changing the coolant to avoid leaving or creating an air “bubble” and it’s possible this wasn’t done, causing the gurgling at startup.

Your coolant recovery tank may get sucked back into the engine until the car warms up and pushes some coolant back into it. I have never heard of anyone reporting a sloshing noise from it but I guess it is possible.

A/C evaporator. Clean drain hose and/or un-kink it so water will drain from it. You should not be able to hear water sloshing from anything under the hood.

I have the whooshing water sound in my 2008 Altima. I figured out that water gets into my passenger side door when it rains. Maybe similar issue?

My Mazda does this (and other weird sounds), too.
I have always assumed this was noise was related to the heater core.
It seems harmless enough.

^This, very likely. It occurs when the drain(s) are plugged up. If you cannot locate the drain, there are generally plastic plugs on the underside of the doors, remove one or two and see if anything drains out.