Sounds coming from your car is a valid reason to have any concern. It's a sign that something needs to be checked out. But the squeaking can come from anywhere, and you'd like to know what steps to take. We've done the research to get this information for you!
The possible reasons why your car may squeak when driving are:
- Faulty brake pads
- A loose belt
- Issues with the steering system
- Tire problems
- In need of lubrication
Continue reading to learn about what's causing the squeaking and what you need to do to solve it.
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Why is my Car Squeaking When I Drive?
The squeaking can occur at any given moment. Do your best to listen to where that sound is coming from. Having an idea of where the squeaking is at may help you solve the problem sooner.
Let's discuss the causes of a squeaky car.
These squeaks will occur whenever you apply pressure to the brakes, which signifies that your brakes are worn. That squeaky sound is a result of metal making contact with metal. In this case, you'll need to replace your brake pads. You might need to replace the rotors as well. When the rotors are having issues, the squeaking is caused by the brake pads improperly making contact with the rotors.
You can expect to pay from $150 to $300 per axle for a brake pad and rotor replacement, depending on the material. Even if the squeaking comes from one axle, replace both. For example, if only the front right brake pads are worn, both brake pads should be replaced. Brake pads generally wear out around the same time.
You may hear a slight squeak after replacing them, but it shouldn't last long. If the squeaking is still present with new brake pads, apply grease to contact points.
A common cause for a squeaky car is a loose serpentine belt. The serpentine belt is a rubber belt that the engine turns to drive the other components under the car's hood.
The squeaking is likely from the belt when the sound comes when you're accelerating. This is a sign that the belt is worn. Don't drive long with a worn belt; doing so risks severe damage to the engine and other components.
Replacing it won't hurt your wallet. The belt itself could cost up to $80, with labor costing around $100.
Steering System Problems
This squeaking sound occurs when you make turns.
One likely culprit is the power-steering fluid. This fluid powers and lubricates your car's steering system. Squeaking can occur when you're running low. Fill up the steering fluid to appropriate levels.
However, the fluid levels could be fine but be full of contamination. Dirt and debris could get inside the fluid, making it inefficient at doing its job. You'll want to get the power-steering pump checked out if refilling doesn't solve the issue.
In some cases, the tire could be responsible for the sound. However, there could be squealing, not squeaking, sounds, so make sure you hear the difference. Both sounds could be caused by different reasons.
When it's a squeaking sound, your tires are probably getting worn or uneven. This makes general driving difficult in unfavorable road conditions. Make sure to replace your tires so your car can grip the ground better.
You might experience a squeaking sound after driving over a bumpy road. This could jar the lugs and make the wheels feel loose. This is an easy fix; tighten the lugs.
Lack of Lubrication
The most likely cause of a squeaking sound generally ties to something lacking proper lubrication. That something could be the car's suspension.
A simple spray of lubricant or a trip to an express oil change center will fix the problem inexpensively.
When you go outside in the morning, you'll notice that the grass is wet even if it didn't rain. Unless it's from a sprinkler, this is moisture from dew.
If you live in a humid area, that moisture can get into your car. This moisture will cause squeaking while you drive. As annoying as it can be, this squeak is temporary and nothing to be concerned with. Eventually, it'll go away while you're on the road.
Can Bad Alignment Cause Squeaking?
Just like how driving on a rough road can loosen tire lugs, it can also mess up the tire's alignment. When the tires have bad alignment, this will be a cause of squeaking noises.
If you've gone too long without getting your tires aligned, this will cause squeaking as well. So make sure you get an alignment as necessary.
Waiting too long to get an alignment will cause a bumpy ride, even on a smooth road. It also leads to irregular tire movements, which, if untreated, can cause expensive damage to your undercarriage.
While we're talking about the undercarriage, check on the wheel bearings. They won't make a squeaking sound if something's wrong with them --they'll make a humming sound-- but a messed up alignment could lead to messed up bearings if untreated.
Can Low Oil Cause Squeaking?
Your car will let you know when it's low on something, one way or another. With oil, the key indicator is the low oil light located on your dashboard.
Driving with low oil won't cause a squeaking sound. But it will cause other sounds. Insufficient levels of oil will lead to clicking or ticking sounds when driving.
However, keep in mind that even with decent oil levels, the ticking sounds can still occur. When your car is idle for a long time, the oil sits in the pan. It won't circulate through the engine until the car starts up again. That clicking sound will occur briefly until the oil circulates.
If you live in colder climates, that circulation may take longer, resulting in longer-lasting clicking sounds. The sounds will go away as time passes.
How do I Get my Car to Stop Squeaking?
If you feel like there's non-stop squeaking no matter what you check, the best thing to do is see a mechanic. You can approximate guesses on the problem, but a trustworthy mechanic will diagnose and fix the squeaks.
If you want to solve the squeaking on your own, many of the causes can be fixed with an appropriate lubricant. Some causes, like the belt or tire alignments, will require a trip to the shop.
Is it Safe to Drive With Squeaky Suspensions?
Driving with a squeaky suspension isn't just annoying; it's risky. The suspensions help support the weight of your vehicle. When it starts squeaking, it means something could be going bad or getting loose.
If you keep driving without getting the suspension looked at, it'll be costly. It also makes your drive unsafe by making the drive bumpy.
With a squeaky suspension, the only drive you should be making is to a local mechanic.
Squeaky sounds from your car aren't just embarrassing; they're dangerous if left untreated. In many of the scenarios we've covered, resolving the problem is quick and not too costly. But it will get expensive if you don't handle the issue quickly.
Feel free to check out these two related articles to help your car maintenance efforts.