Cars, trailers, trucks, machines, and just about every other piece of machinery have some sounds they make.
For instance, race cars or sports cars certainly sound different from normal cars. This “muscle car” sound can best be described as “loud and fast”, thanks to the powerful exhaust system and high horsepower.
But then, some sounds are just not right. When your car starts to squeak when you’re driving, then there’s got to be a problem somewhere.
You’ll need an expert to isolate the sound and figure out the source so that it can be fixed. However, as a car owner/driver, you should understand why your car makes such weird sounds.
There could be any number of reasons causing this.
We’ve come up with a list of the five most likely reasons that can explain why your car squeaks when you drive.
Check it out below:
1. Loose or Worn Belts
This usually presents as a loud screeching sound when you start the car. It’s annoying and also very embarrassing.
What’s worse? Without intervention, it will get worse with time.
The serpentine belt – also fan belt or alternator belt – plays an important role in the transfer of rotational energy from the engine to its vital accessories.
That said, your AC, fan, power steering pump, alternator, and water pump all need it to be in good working condition to function properly. Also, it helps keep the battery charged as the battery needs the alternator to charge.
The squeaky or chirping sound that comes from a loose fan belt is the rubber belt slipping on the metal pulley. This occurs in the engine, so the sound will likely come from that direction.
A few possible causes of this squeaky sound include a misaligned tensioner, improper installation of the belt, extreme weather that could affect the belt’s stiffness, or just the usual wear and tear that comes from constant usage.
A thorough examination should be your first step here. Try to figure out the cause of the issue. A loose belt could be tightened while a damaged belt might have to be replaced.
A trip to the auto repair experts can make this process that much easier.
2. Issues with the Brake Pads
This is another common cause of a squeaking car. The brakes are undoubtedly very important in a vehicle. Issues with them could be rather dangerous.
Fortunately, they tend to give a few signs before they give out. This squeaking sound could be a cry for help, so keep an ear out.
Some of the possible causes for these include worn brake pads, a rusty brake rotor, or just you braking hard.
The first two should give you more concern as the last could just be a one-off thing.
Because of how crucial brakes are in a vehicle, some cars come with in-built brake pad sensors that tell you when it’s time to change your brakes.
You could also follow experts’ recommendations and change it every 50,000 miles.
Otherwise, that screeching or metallic scraping sound will alert you of issues here. For your safety and that of others, don’t ignore this.
3. A faulty Alternator
The alternator converts power from the engine into electricity that can power your car’s electrical components and most importantly, charge the battery.
Unfortunately, it’s likely to wear out with time, especially the bearings inside. This often results in a high-pitched squeal or whine.
Just like the belt, the alternator is located under the hood, so you would likely hear it from that direction as well. However, it could also affect the electronic components of the car, such as the stereo.
A strange, grinding sound, should take your mind towards the alternator.
But in addition to electric failures, there are other signs to be on the lookout for including flickering headlights, a weak or uncharged battery, and difficulty starting your car.
While these can point you in the right direction as regards the issue, to know for sure and get it fixed, you’ll need to reach out to a trained auto mechanic.
4. Suspension System Problems
A suspension system is meant to provide a smoother ride for a driver. All those shocks, vibrations, and other stuff that are inescapable out on the open road are “absorbed” by the system. In turn, you get to drive without feeling these effects.
So, just imagine when your suspension system is responsible for your car creaking, squeaking, and generally being uncomfortable, that’d be very annoying.
This is commonly caused by a lack of lubrication, especially on the ball joints, rubber mounts, steering links, or bushings.
Simply lubricating them could be a quick fix. Unfortunately, this quick fix might not work if the issue is more severe.
With such issues, expect a thumping vehicle or vibrating steering. A replacement of the damaged suspension part might be necessary to fix this.
5. Steering Issues
This typically results in your car squealing or creaking when you turn. It could be due to the steering needing some lubrication or low power-steering fluid.
These noises usually occur because the steering wheel is no longer centralized when there’s no fluid to lubricate the system.
It could also be because the steering wheel housing keeps rubbing against the interior trim. Another possible cause of screeching sound is a failing power steering system.
As soon as your car starts to whine, squeal, squeak, or make other strange noises when you turn the wheel, be sure to take it to an auto repair expert.
FAQs about Weird Car Sounds
1. Why does my car squeal while driving slow?
Brakes often make sounds when pressed at high speeds, for them to squeal at low speed, the brake pads or discs must be misaligned or poorly fitted. It could also be due to poor lubrication, dirt & debris, or moisture in the brakes.
2. Why does my car squeak when I drive fast?
This could be caused by a worn-out timing belt (Cambelt). This is crucial for the normal functioning of the engine. A failing timing belt often results in a squeaking or ticking noise emanating from the engine.
3. Are my tires the cause of my squeaking car?
Your tires could very well be the cause of the strange sounds your vehicle is making. It’s not always a squeaking sound. It could be a thudding sound that results as a result of low air pressure in the tires, misaligned tires, or an uneven tread.
4. Why does my car squeal when I accelerate?
A high-pitched squeal from your vehicle upon acceleration is often a result of a loose or worn fan belt. This often implies that the timing belt has issues as well. Your best bet is to get them both replaced.
What to do about your squeaking car
This depends on the cause of the issue. The post above should give you an idea of what the issue could be.
It could also help you figure out which ones you can handle with a few things in your toolbox. For instance, you could apply some oil to the parts of your car that needs to be lubricated.
However, nothing beats a visit to your local auto repair shop. That’s about what you can do here – let the experts handle it.
As for what not to do – don’t ever ignore these strange sounds coming from your vehicle. They could be early warning signs of a much bigger problem that could cost you a lot more in the long run. Regular maintenance and servicing of your vehicle is also recommended.