8 Reasons Your Car Is Squeaking When Driving

squeaking car cambelt

Last updated: February 17, 2023 at 13:02 pm

Few car problems are as frustrating as a squeaky car. The sound is often loud and annoying, but it’s even more frustrating not knowing what the problem is. It’s important to attend to the issue as soon as possible, though, because the longer you wait, the more serious the issue may become.

In this article we’ll cover some of the most common reasons behind car squeaks and how you can fix them yourself and when you might need the help of an expert mechanic.

Reasons Why Your Car Squeaks When Driving

When your car is making a squeaking noise while driving, there could be several different causes. Some are relatively simple fixes while others could require a complete overhaul of your braking system. Knowing what’s wrong under the hood will aid you in diagnosing the problem yourself. This helps you decide whether the car requires an urgent repair and enables you to prioritise a maintenance check accordingly.

If you hear your car squeaking when driving, here are some of the most common reasons:

1. Noisy Tyres

A high-pitched squeak while driving can mean your tires are contacting the body of the car. It usually occurs when there’s an issue with your suspension or wheel alignment.

When your tyres aren’t aligned properly, they can meet the body of your vehicle – causing them to make a lot of noise. The rubber on your tyres is also more likely to wear down if your wheels aren’t aligned correctly. So, it’s wise to get this checked out as soon as possible.

Additionally, the tread on your tires is designed to keep them gripping the road – even in wet conditions. If you’ve driven a lot of miles or been driving in poor weather recently, your tires will likely be more worn down than usual. And this could be the reason why they’re squeaking when you drive.

2. Squeaking Brakes

If you hear a grinding or squeaking noise from your brakes, it could be a sign that they need changing. Brake pads have a metal connector that rotates against the brake disc when you press on your brake pedal. If they’re worn down too much, they may start to vibe

Moreover, most Brake pads have wear indicators, which are made up of metal tabs attached to the brake pad that contact the brake rotor. When they meet the rotor, they produce a high-pitched squealing noise as an indication that it is time to change the brake pads.

When you’re checking brake pads, look for any sign of damage or wear around the edges of either side of the brake pads. It could simply be time for new brake pads altogether.

3. Worn Shock Absorbers

Shock absorbers are an essential part of your vehicle’s suspension system as they help reduce vibrations and maintain tyre contact on uneven surfaces. These progressive dampers are also called struts, Macpherson struts, or gas springs.

Shock absorbers generally have a life of around 50,000 miles or about five years. If your vehicle is past this point, your shocks are likely worn out. When shock absorbers start to fail, you may hear a rattling sound when driving over speed bumps. This is because the rubber bushings that protect the shocks have worn out or broken.

The most common signs of worn shock absorbers include:

  • the car sways when cornering, accelerating, or braking
  • front end dips when braking
  • front end rises too much when accelerating
  • rear end squats when accelerating
  • the car bounces up and down after passing over a bump
  • Vibration in the steering wheel at high speeds

Fixing squeaky shocks can be done in three ways. You can either replace them, repair them or try to reduce the noise by adjusting them. If you need to replace your shock absorbers, it’s best to have a professional do it for you.

4. Steering Wheel

squeaky steering wheel

It is common for steering wheels clunk noise when driving. One of the most common reasons for this is the steering wheel worn out or loose. This can be caused by several things.

In most cases, it is because the driver has been gripping the wheel too tight. The pressure from their hands causes the wheel to move and squeak. This can also be caused by a loose steering shaft or the bearings on your vehicle may have gone bad.

To remedy this situation, you need to inspect all parts of your steering system. Tighten the steering wheel by tightening the bolts at the bottom of the steering column behind the steering wheel. After that, check that everything is working as it should and that nothing is broken or worn out.

If something is broken or loose, then you will probably need to get it fixed before continuing your journey.

Related: 5 Wheel Bearing Noises and How to Fix Them

5. Car is Low on Fluid

Driving a car requires hydraulic fluid to operate the brakes, power steering and other mechanisms. If your car is low on power steering fluid, it could be making squeaking noises when you brake or turn the steering wheel. If it’s making noise while you drive, there could be an issue with one of the wheels and causes a shudder when the tire rotates.

Cars also need hydraulic fluid to lubricate their systems, but that can come from several places. Your oil change is just one source of this fluid. So, if you notice squeaking when braking or turning and there isn’t any obvious source of damage to your car’s suspension, then you might want to check your oil level and add some more fluid.

If you have low levels of power steering fluid in your car and it’s making noise when turning the steering wheel, then it could be causing the wheels to shake on their own. This can be caused by a loose connection between the steering rack and the column inside your car or by a worn ball joint. Inspect those areas for signs of wear or damage; they may have already started to wear out enough that they’re no longer properly connected.

6. Failed Catalytic Converter

If your car is making a rattling noise when you accelerate this can be a sign that the catalytic converter has failed. This component reduces the toxicity of the exhaust emitted from your car. If it’s not working as it should, it can cause an annoying rattling noise.

The catalytic converter is part of the exhaust system and converts chemicals that would otherwise be harmful to the environment into less toxic substances. A faulty catalytic converter will not only cause an irritating sound when driving, but it will also increase fuel consumption and reduce engine performance, so you must replace it as soon as possible.

We recommend you replace your catalytic converter with a genuine OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) one to ensure a perfect fit and reliable performance.

7. Faulty Cambelt

The cambelt controls the timing of the internal combustion engine. It’s driven by the crankshaft and drives other components that are responsible for opening and closing valves in the engine. A worn-out cambelt can have severe consequences for your vehicle, including breaking apart and causing damage to the pistons or valves.

You may hear squeaking noises when driving at low speeds if your cambelt is beginning to wear. The belt will start to stretch and lose its tension as it gets older, and this can be accompanied by some noise as it loses its elasticity.

Most cambelts need replacing after 60,000 miles or five years (whichever comes first). If you’re unsure how long yours must go before needing replacing, ask your mechanic to check next time you take your vehicle in for a service.

8. Bad Alternator

squeaking alternator

A squeak coming from under the bonnet often has most of us reaching for the phone to call a mechanic. But sometimes it’s nothing to worry about, and that’s certainly the case with a squeaking alternator.

There are several signs to look out for if you suspect your alternator is playing up. Here are some of the most common.

  • Warning light: If your alternator warning light comes on, it means there’s a problem with your charging system. The actual problem could be anything from a broken wire to a weak battery or a malfunctioning alternator.
  • Dim lights: If your car’s headlights are dim or seem too bright, it might be time for an alternator check-up.
  • Sounds: A grinding sound coming from under the hood could mean the bearings in your alternator are starting to wear out.
  • Battery problems: If you’re having trouble starting your car, it’s probably not the starter motor. It’s more likely that it’s a problem with the battery or something in the charging circuit, as the alternator.
    Other signs of an alternator problem include trouble starting the car, battery warning lights on the dashboard, and electrical failures such as power windows not operating properly.

Hopefully, this article has helped you understand why your car is squeaking, as well as steps you can take to prevent squeaks. In addition to practicing good driving habits, frequent vehicle maintenance will go a long way towards ensuring that your ride remains squeak-free.

Plus, paying attention to the little details will help ensure that your automobile stays in peak condition.

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About the Author: AJ

AJ is a self-confessed soundproofing nut. He has written full-time on Quiet Living for the past 4 years, and has a wealth of knowledge about living a quieter life, soundproofing and fixing loud noises.

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