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What To Do If Your Car Squeaks When Driving

  • Auto Insurance
  • Renee Martin
  • 5 minutes

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Hearing squeaky noises from your car can be the first warning sign that something’s wrong with it. Here’s what to do when your car squeaks when driving!

It’s common knowledge that it takes several movable and immovable parts to run a car. And it’s such a well-oiled machine (pun intended) that drivers barely even notice when something’s wrong. However, beyond a certain point, your car can start making squeaking noises – a sign that something is not quite right.

We’ve broken down everything that could be causing your car to squeak so that you can easily identify it and

Why is your car squeaking?

The good thing to note is that squeaking from your car often indicates the start of an issue, and not that there’s something majorly wrong with it – at least not immediately.¬†Squeaky noises can be considered as an early warning sign for minor problems and niggles in your car like:

  • Worn out belts
  • Worn-out brake pads
  • Faulty alternators
  • Low levels of steering fluid
  • Worn-out ball joints

While these may not seem like emergency problems, it’s best not to ignore them because they can often snowball into larger, more expensive vehicle problems!

car squeaks when driving

Reasons for a car squeaking when driving

When trying to diagnose the reason for squeaks in the car, pay attention to the source. Do the noises start when you turn on the ignition? Or does the car squeak when you’re driving and hit the brakes?

Depending on the source, you can probably find the reasons for squeaking as one of the following:

Faulty brake pads

Worn-out brake pads are one of the common reasons for squeaking coming from a car. If you hear such a sound every time you brake, it could be time to replace the brake pads. Delaying it could cause irreversible damage to the brake disc.

You may also hear squeaking noises if small stones get stuck between the brake pad and the disc. These may need to be dislodged by a mechanic.

car squeaks when driving

Also read: Everything you need to know about squeaky car brakes

Low levels of steering fluid

Do you hear straining/squeaking noises whenever you turn a corner? Then it’s possible that it’s your steering system that’s the source of the problem. Your car manual will tell you how to use a dipstick to measure the steering fluid level. If it’s low, pop down to your nearest mechanic and get it refilled.

Worn-out cam belt

The cambelt controls the timing with which the valves of the IC engine open and close. If the cambelt is too worn out, you may hear a squeaking noise from the engine every time you accelerate. It’s always best to replace the cambelt before it breaks.

Worn out serpentine belt

The serpentine belt or fan belt provides power to the alternator, air conditioning system, power steering pump, and more. If this is the source of the squeaking noise when you turn the ignition, then you may need to replace it. Since it is made of rubber, it is always good to keep checking if the fan belt has become worn out.

Faulty alternator

The alternator is responsible for running all the electrical devices in the car and keeping your battery charged. However, if it is older than 6-7 years, it may not be very efficient at the job, and the engine could start squeaking.

Wheel misalignment

Improper wheel alignment can put undue stress on the tires and the suspension and cause them to create a distinct squeaking sound.

car squeaks when driving

Tire under-inflation

Tires with uneven tread, poor inflation, and alignment can also cause your car to squeak and screech.

Is it safe to drive a squeaky car?

While a squeaking noise does not immediately call for caution, it’s best not to delay it and do nothing in the long run. Squeaking, thumping, or knocking noises are generally early warnings that something is wrong with a moving part of the car.

How much will it cost to stop the squeaking from a car?

The average cost of diagnosis and stopping a squeaking noise from a car ranges between $150-$400 depending on what part needs to be replaced. However, it can spiral as high as $1000 if there is serious wear and tear to any vehicle part.

Some average costs are as below:

  • Replacing a serpentine belt: $80-$200
  • Suspension shock/ strut replacement: $800-900
  • Replacing a cam belt/timing belt: $450-$700
  • Replacing brake pads: $115-$300 per axle
  • Tire replacement: $60-$150
  • Tire alignment: $70-$110
  • Replacing alternator: $200-$350

Also read: How much does a strut replacement cost?

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How long can I drive with a squeaky belt?

You can continue to drive safely for up to 2 weeks with a squeaky belt. However, it’s best to not delay too long and replace it as early as possible.

Can bad wheel alignment in a car cause squeaking?

Yes, bad wheel alignment can put stress on the suspension and create sounds like knocking, squeaking, and creaking. It could also result in damage to the struts, which could be expensive to replace.

car squeaks when driving

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