WhoCanFixMyCar looks at why your car could be squeaking while driving and what you can do to solve the problem
The good news is that while a squeaking noise could indicate a number of different issues, most of these problems in reality are quick, easy and, most importantly, affordable fixes.
To help you identify some of the possible causes for squeaking, as well as some of the most common solutions, we’ve put together this handy guide so you can be more informed when taking your car to be looked at by a garage.
If your car squeaks when you turn it, the most likely cause is low power steering fluid. This means that your power steering system is not lubricated enough, causing parts to rub together and make a squeaking sound. There’s no need for a mechanic to diagnose this problem - you can check the fluid level yourself.
Your owner’s manual will contain all the information you need about your car’s power steering system. This will allow you to locate the power steering reservoir and check the fluid level.
Checking your car’s fluid levels regularly is an important part of car ownership.
Brake pads and discs that have been fitted poorly or are worn down will often cause a squeaking noise when you drive slowly.
When you press the brake pedal, the brake caliper clamps around the pad, applying pressure to slow down the movement. Your brake pads will get thinner the more they are used, so over the course of a vehicle’s life they will probably need replacing at least once. The squeaking sound comes from metal moving against metal.
A loud or high pitched squeak when you accelerate might be a sign of a loose or worn fan belt.
Different vehicles are fitted with different belt systems - some might have a serpentine belt while others will have multiple smaller accessory belts. These belts play an important role in transferring the rotational energy created by the engine to its different parts. Basically, it keeps your fan, air conditioning, power steering pump, water pump and alternator working.
If your fan belt is squeaking, this is probably because the rubber belt is slipping on the metal pulley. It’s worth carrying out a number of visual tests yourself to check the condition of your fan belt system to see, for instance, if there are any cracks or any ribs missing.
In the event that there are signs of damage, the best course of action is to take your car to a garage to have the fan belt replaced before it breaks completely (and causes considerably more damage).
Sometimes squeaky brakes can simply be solved by not braking quite so hard (unless you have to in an emergency!). In other cases, the problem could be more serious.
Rusty brake rotors
Over time, your brake rotors may become rusty. This increases the friction between the brakes and the rotor, resulting in a squeaking noise. The best way to check whether this is a problem that can be fixed without a full brake rotor replacement - for example by filing away the rust and debris - is to take your car to a trained professional.
Worn out brake pads
If you're driving an older vehicle and you experience squeaky brakes, it's probably a sign that you need to book your car in for a brake pad replacement.
New brake pads
Of the three main types of brake pads (semi-metallic, organic and ceramic), metallic pads are used most often on modern cars. While they're highly effective, they're also prone to making noises such as squeaking.
If you can hear a squeaking or squealing noise coming from your front wheels, there are a couple of likely causes for this.
It could be a problem with your brakes if you notice the noise usually happens when you're trying to slow down, but if it happens even when you're not braking, a bent brake rotor shield could be the cause.
The rotor shield is designed to keep the internal assembly of your brakes safe and clean. If the shield becomes bent for any reason, it could touch the rotor, causing a squeaking or squealing sound. Once you align the shield properly, the sound should go away.
The final cause could be a wheel bearing failure. Bearings act as a buffer between the wheel and axle, so when they wear out, the resulting friction causes squealing.
It can be tempting to ignore this noise for as long as possible, but if your wheel bearing goes while you are driving it can have disastrous consequences. Once your wheel bearing breaks, the wheel completely seizes up - this is very bad news at any speed, but imagine if you were in a sixty zone! The best thing to do is take your car to a garage as soon as you can.
The average cost of a wheel bearing repair job on WhoCanFixMyCar is £262.56.
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