Car making squeaking noise when driving could be annoying and scary, especially for drivers who experience this for the first time. These unusual sounds are due to worn-out components or low fluid levels, indicating something is wrong.
If you are experiencing this issue with your vehicle, you have come to the right place.
This article curated by our experienced automotive team explains the main causes of your car squeaking and how to resolve them, so read on!
- 1 What Are Reasons Why Your Car Makes Squeaky Noises When Driving?
- 1.1 – Insufficient Steering Fluid
- 1.2 – Old or Worn-out Timing or Cam Belt
- 1.3 – Worn-out or Broken Serpentine Belt
- 1.4 – Failing or Slipping Alternator
- 1.5 – Misaligned Wheel
- 1.6 – Underinflated Tires
- 1.7 – Faulty or Defective Brake Pads
- 1.8 – Lack of Lubrication in the Suspension System
- 1.9 – Faulty Steering Wheel System
- 2 What Are the Common Ways To Stop Your Car from Squeaking?
- 3 Conclusion
What Are Reasons Why Your Car Makes Squeaky Noises When Driving?
The reason your car makes squeaky noises when driving often relate to the suspension. Other typical causes include a lack of lubrication, metal-on-metal wear that arises in connections such as the tie-rods, squeaky suspension joints, and even faulty steering linkage. Misaligned wheels or underinflated tires could also be the culprit.
– Insufficient Steering Fluid
One of the main reasons why cars make squeaky sounds is because their fluid levels are low. The low fluid can make your wheel feel and sound different. When the fluid that powers and lubricates the power steering system gets low, it can cause a loud, ongoing screeching noise, as if the steering wheel is not well connected.
To confirm if your fluid is low or not, you can use a dipstick to check. If you are unfamiliar with using dipsticks to check the amount of brake fluid left in your car, consult the owner’s manual. This will also save your shock absorbers.
– Old or Worn-out Timing or Cam Belt
If your cam belt gets worn out, it can cause squealing sounds in the car. The cam belt, also known as the timing belt, coordinates the rotation of your engine’s camshaft and crankshaft. When the belt becomes worn out, it usually slips or makes an annoying squeaky noise as it rotates.
– Worn-out or Broken Serpentine Belt
Although cam belt wear is usually responsible for irregular squeals in a car, worn-out auxiliary drive belts also cause squeaky sounds in a car. The sound is, however, more erratic than the noises caused by worn-out timing belts. The worn-out belts can cause your pulley to spin slowly.
Over time, your auxiliary drive belt can become worn out and develop cracks that can cause it to slip and make screeching sounds. These sounds are typically caused by the belt slipping against the pulleys, thereby creating friction and heat. The friction can cause the belt to wear down even faster and eventually break.
– Failing or Slipping Alternator
A failing alternator is another common cause of vehicles making squeaky noises when you are driving. The alternator helps maintain key components in your vehicle, including battery power, air conditioning, headlights, and windshield wipers. A faulty alternator can make squeaky noises for different reasons, which makes your squeaking car worse.
One common cause of a failing alternator is a worn-out or damaged alternator pulley. As the bearings in the pulley wear out, it begins to wobble and make squeaky noises when spinning. Another common reason is a loose alternator belt which could result in slipping. The belt can vibrate against the pulleys, thereby creating loud noises.
– Misaligned Wheel
When a wheel is out of alignment, instead of rolling smoothly, the tires drag. This can lead to uneven tire tread wear while driving, braking, or turning, which might cause the squeaky sound you hear while driving. Wheel misalignment can cause the tires to wear unevenly, damaging the tread patterns and eventually creating a squeaking or squeaky sound as the tires rotate against the road surface.
When wheels aren’t pointing in the same direction, it can also cause the tires to scrub against the road rather than roll smoothly. This will also produce squeaky sounds. Bad wheels also cause the brake to wear down more quickly, which can create a screeching sound as the brakes are applied.
– Underinflated Tires
Underinflated tires can cause squeaky sounds in your vehicle when driving. When a tire is underinflated, it can wear unevenly, which can create a pattern of irregular wear on the tread.
This can cause the tire to squeak when it rotates on the road. Underinflated tires can eventually stress the suspension system and cause noises that sound like tire noise. Underinflated tires could also make your vehicle shriek suddenly.
– Faulty or Defective Brake Pads
Another frequent cause of a squeaky sound while using the brakes is worn-out brake pad material. The pads create friction against the brake rotors to slow down or stop the vehicle. When they wear down or become contaminated, it can cause them to make a squeaking or squealing noise.
If the pads were defective when manufactured or damaged during installation, they might make a noise as they move against the brake rotor. Additionally, if the vehicle is not the correct size or shape, it may create an uneven contact surface, which can cause a squeaking or annoying noise when driving.
– Lack of Lubrication in the Suspension System
You can also experience squeaky noises when your vehicle’s suspension lacks lubrication. The suspension gives you a smoother ride by absorbing bumps and other vibrations you encounter on the road. The various components of the suspension system, such as the shocks, struts, and bushings, are designed to move and flex as your vehicle travels over uneven surfaces.
However, if the suspension lacks proper lubrication, it can create friction and wear on these components, which can cause them to make squeaking or creaking noises as they move. This can be especially noticeable when driving over bumpy roads or making turns. The lack of a good water pump also makes a car screech.
– Faulty Steering Wheel System
When driving with a malfunctioning steering system, you are most likely to hear squeaky noises as you move. The steering system has several components, such as the rack and pinion, steering pump, and steering column. You can experience squeaky noises if any or all the components wear out or begin to malfunction.
Also, if the steering components are not adequately lubricated, they can create friction and wear, causing them to make noises when in motion. The steering pump can cause squeaky noises if it malfunctions or is low on fluid. Also, it can cause the wheel to make noise when turning.
What Are the Common Ways To Stop Your Car from Squeaking?
The common ways to stop your car from squeaking when driving are by changing the auxiliary drive belt and replacing or refilling the power steering liquid. Other fixes for the problem are adjusting or replacing the brake pads and lubricating the suspension system.
It is unsafe to drive a squeaky car, as it clearly indicates that one or more critical parts need attention in the car. Although the issue won’t stop the car from being drivable, not fixing the squeaking could lead to additional problems with other important components. It would be best to identify the root issue or cause as soon as possible so it can be resolved.
– Change the Serpentine Belt
If the squeaky sound results from a faulty serpentine belt (also known as an auxiliary drive belt), you should replace it as soon as possible. If left unattended for a long period, you may incur significant repair costs from the extra damage to other components.
To change the auxiliary drive belt, locate the belt and loosen the tensioner using a wrench or any belt tool. This will help you access and remove the belt. Once the tension is released, slide the faulty belt off the pulleys and remove it from the engine compartment.
After removing the faulty belt, confirm that the new belt is the correct size and length. Once you know the size, install the new belt by placing it around the pulleys. Next, use the tensioner tool to rotate the pulley, sliding the belt on the final pulley.
After installing the belt, check the belt tension then test the belt to be sure it is working correctly and is no longer making the squeaking noise. You might need to check the owner’s manual or get professional help if you are not sure about the process for proper car maintenance.
– Replace or Refill the Power Steering Fluid
Check the amount of fluid in your car with your dipstick. If it’s low, you may need to add some more fluid. In such a scenario, a short top-up should end the squeaks.
You could have deteriorated ball joints or polluted fluid if this is ineffective. You’ll need a mechanic to drain and replace the fluid for you.
– Adjust or Replace the Brake Pad
If you press the brakes and hear squeaking, you might have to get new brake pads. When you have a faulty pad, the squeaking will immediately change to grinding as soon as metal comes in contact with the grooved rotors.
You will need materials like your jack, wrench, and brake cleaner to replace the pads. First, jack up and secure the car. Next, remove the lug nuts and remove the wheel to access the brake assembly. Once you’ve removed the wheel, locate the brake caliper and remove it by loosening the bolts holding it in place.
You can now take out the old pads from the caliper bracket and fix the brake piston into the caliper with a C-clamp to be able to fix the new pad. Install the new pad onto the caliper bracket and replace the caliper, then tighten the bolts. You can now replace the wheel and test the new brake pads.
– Lubricate Your Suspension System
If the car squeaks as a result of an unlubricated suspension, there is no need to worry. It just means it’s time to lubricate the suspension. You can apply a small quantity of lubricant to the part once you’ve identified the source of the squeak.
There are several causes of car squealing ranging from low fluid levels to damaged car components.
Here’s a summary of the key points discussed in this article:
- Worn-out serpentine and cam belts are the most common causes of squeaking noises in a car. However, these issues can be fixed by replacing the affected parts.
- The absence of or insufficient fluids can cause squealing in your car, and you can fix the issue by replacing or refilling the fluid.
- Faulty alternators and defective brakes also cause squeaking sounds, and you can resolve them by replacing the faulty components.
You can now identify the causes of the squeaking noise in your car and how to stop it. However, if it’s proving too difficult a task, don’t hesitate to ask a mechanic for help.
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