Abstract It has been a challenge in the past to accurately locate and quantify the pass-by noise source radiated by the running vehicles. A system composed of a microphone array is developed in our current work to do this work. An acoustic-holography method for moving sound sources is designed to handle the Doppler effect effectively in the time domain. The effective sound pressure distribution is reconstructed on the surface of a running vehicle. The method has achieved a high calculation efficiency and is able to quantitatively measure the sound pressure at the sound source and identify the location of the main sound source. The method is also validated by the simulation experiments and the measurement tests with known moving speakers. Finally, the engine noise, tire noise, exhaust noise and wind noise of the vehicle running at different speeds are successfully identified by this method.