Are you tired of squeaking noises from your vehicle each time you drive? You may be used to squeaking noises indicating a problem with the brakes. However, that only happens only when you brake. What if there are squeaks even when you are not touching the brakes? What could be the problem?
Squeaking noise while driving with no brakes applied can be because of many things. They include worn shock absorbers, faulty suspension bushings, worn or damaged CV joints, etc. It clearly shows that not just worn brakes can lead to squeaking noises.
We help you know about identifying the source of squeaking noises while driving and how best to deal with them. This guide will also help you know the importance of working with a professional to fix the car and keep it driving just as you would love it to.
Understanding The Squeaking Noise
It is vital to understand the squeaking noise to know its potential source and how best to repair the part to avoid further squeaking.
Try to understand the characteristics of the squeaking noise. Such can include the pitch of the squeaking noise. The pitch often varies from a high-pitched sound to a sharp or low-grinding sound.
How consistent is the noise? You can get that the squeakiness is only heard intermittently. This means you only hear it while under certain conditions or speeds. However, some noises are persistent throughout the entire time you are driving.
Vibrations may also accompany the squeaking noise. This can give you more information on where to look for the issue. You may feel the vibrations coming from the steering wheel, floorboard, or other parts of the car.
How high is the squeaking noise? Yes, the volume of the noise can help you know if it is something to worry about or not. The volume of the squeak can also determine just how severe the problem is, and you should take care of it immediately.
Potential Locations Of The Squeaking Noise
The squeaking noise may come from the wheel area. If this is the case, it means checking out components such as wheel bearings, worn-out tires, and suspensions.
The steering system can also have squeaky noises. Check the tire rods, steering pump, or loose steering components when this happens.
If the noise comes from the drivetrain, focus on the CV joints, universal joints, or the transmission itself. It can generate squeaks at times.
The exhaust system may have loose or damaged components. This would lead to squeaks and vibrations coming from the system.
Brake-related Squeaking Noises
If it is the brakes that squeak, then expect the following.
- The noises are heard when you apply or release the brakes
- There is a change in brake performance, such as pulsations or spongy brake pedal feel
- The squeaky noise mostly comes from the brake pads, brake rotors, or brake calipers
Non-brake squeaking noises
The non-brake squeaking noises are heard when;
- The brakes are not engaged
- Are present during certain driving conditions such as accelerating, turning, or traveling at certain speeds
- They are linked to other components other than the braking system. This includes the suspension, drivetrain, exhaust, and steering.
Potential Reason For The Squeaking Noise
There could be a number of things wrong with the vehicle leading to the squeaking noises. We look at some of them below to understand better.
1. Worn or Damaged Struts or Shock Absorbers
Struts and shock absorbers are vital for maintaining vehicle stability and further minimizing vibrations. These components can wear out with time, leading to squeaking noises. Because of such, they can start producing squeaky noises.
2. Faulty Suspension Bushings
Just like other suspension components, the bushings can also be worn over time, thus leading to squeaky sounds. The work of bushings is to help cushion various components providing flexibility and reducing friction. Once these bushes are worn or dry, they crack; thus, squeaking happens as the vehicle moves.
Here is a video on suspension making squeaky noises
3. Worn or Loose Tie Rod Ends
The steering system components, such as tie rod ends, can lead to squeaky noises. The work of tie rods is to ensure proper steering control. In case they have any issues or are worn, you should expect such noises. Also other symptoms include steering play or erratic handling.
4. Malfunctioning Power Steering Pump
A power steering pump is essential for improving how easy it is to steer the vehicle. It provides you with the hydraulic pressure aid to keep turning the wheels. In case the internal components are worn or there is low power steering fluid, you would hear the squeaking sound.
The noise usually intensifies as you turn the wheel.
5. Worn or Damaged CV Joints
Constant Velocity or CV joints connect the driveshaft to the wheels for that smooth power delivery. In case the CV joints are worn or damaged, they will emit squeaking noises when making tight turns or accelerating.
6. Faulty Universal Joints
Universal joints are also key in transmitting the rotational power between two shafts. As you can see, they have important work to do. However, these joints can become dry, worn, or damaged, thus leaving you with squeaking sounds. This is especially during acceleration or when shifting gears.
7. Loose or Broken Exhaust Heat Shields
Heat shields are important in an exhaust system. These components are for taking away the excessive heat from the exhaust system. These components may become loose or rather develop cracks too. When such happens, expect to feel the vibrations or squeaking noises as the vehicle moves.
8. Damaged Catalytic Converter or Muffler
A damaged muffler or catalytic converter will leave you with vibrations and rattling within the exhaust system. Other than the rattles, squeaking noises are also a possibility.
Corrosion, impact damage, and internal components failure are more reasons to experience rattling in the muffler.
Diagnosing the Squeaking Noise
Diagnosing what could be the problem is vital to know which parts need repairs. Diagnosis can be made in various ways. We discuss them below.
Start with inspecting the suspension components to see if they are all in good condition. Look at the struts, shock absorbers, and suspension bushings. You can easily spot signs of wear, leakage, and damage to these parts.
As for the steering system, check the tie rod ends, power steering pump, and steering linkages. Look for signs of wear, looseness, or leaks from the various components. Pay attention to the level and condition of the power steering fluid.
You should also look at the drivetrain components, such as CV and universal joints. Look around for signs of excessive play, lubrication leaks, and damage. Make sure the driveshaft has no visible issues, such as cracks or dents.
Evaluate the exhaust system to see if the heat shields, catalytic converter, or mufflers are intact. Having broken heat shields easily leaves to vibrations.
Another way to identify what could lead to these issues is by taking the vehicle for a test drive. Pay close attention to the squeaking noise to know where it comes from. Does the noise change with increasing or decreasing speed?
If the noise depends on speed, it is because of worn wheel bearings, CV joints, and other drivetrain components.
Look at the driving conditions also. You would know the trigger if the noises only come during certain driving conditions. A good example is the squeaking noise that only comes during acceleration or turning the wheel.
Seek Professional Help
If you cannot still tell where the squeaking noise is coming from, it is best to consult a professional mechanic. The mechanic has specialized tools and skills to find the cause of the noise and how best to repair it.
Make sure you communicate effectively so that the mechanic knows what the issue is. Describe as many details as possible, including if specific conditions can influence the noise level.
Resolving The Squeaking Noise
We have segmented this part into two main options because these are what you can expect to cause the squeaking noise. In each case, we highlight how to repair the vehicle and have it run smoothly.
Suspension and Steering Solutions
Start by replacing the worn struts and shock absorbers. If they are causing the noise, the best solution is to replace them. New shock absorbers or struts will restore proper damping and improve the overall suspension performance.
You can also work on the suspension bushings. Still, we recommend replacing them here since they are cheap and you do not have to replace them again for years. Make sure you use high-quality bushings to have a long-lasting solution against friction.
Tie rod ends might need tightening to eliminate the squeaks. However, you may also have to replace the worn tie rod ends to decrease noise. You should now have the best steering performance at this time.
Those with power steering issues should consider having it repaired professionally. If you must top up the fluid level, use the recommended type. You may also have to replace the belt running the pump to eliminate the noise.
Drivetrain and Exhaust System Solutions
If the drive train has issues, you will still need to address them. This includes replacing faulty CV joints if necessary. The damaged CV joints cannot be repaired, so installing new ones will give you a smooth ride and no noise.
It is the same thing for the universal joints. If worn, simply buy new high-quality universal joints and replace them to remove the squeaky noise.
If you have checked the exhaust system and noticed broken or loose heat shields, we recommend securing or replacing them. Fastening the heat shields is easy. If the problem persists, then replace the heat shields.
As for the damaged catalytic converter or damaged muffler, you should have them repaired correctly. This may involve patching holes, welding, or replacing damaged parts to restore proper exhaust flow.
Can squeaking noise while driving without brakes applied be dangerous?
The noise should alert you there is something wrong with the vehicle. You are not in immediate danger most of the time, but this does not mean you ignore it. Ensure you address the underlying issue so the vehicle can run smoothly again.
Should I fix the issue myself or consult a mechanic?
It depends on your skill level. Sometimes it is possible to fix the issues yourself. However, if you are unsure how to do it, we recommend consulting a professional so that you end with a vehicle running smoothly once again.
How much does it cost to fix a squeaking noise while driving?
The cost largely depends on what is causing the noise. The repairs can be as cheap as $150, while you sometimes have to pay $400. First, let a mechanic diagnose the problem and then work on remedying it so that you have a quiet vehicle in the end.
What should you do if the squeaking noise persists but you have made repairs yourself?
It could be that you have missed the exact reason for the squeaky sound or other problems need repairs also. In such a case, we recommend getting assistance from a professional mechanic. A mechanic can help reevaluate the issue and conduct thorough research to determine the exact issue and repair the vehicle.
Squeaking noises while driving without applying brakes can easily frustrate you or sometimes just be concerning. It is then key to understand what could be the issue and have the right repairs done. The potential problems that may lead to this problem include worn suspension components, steering system issues, drivetrain component problems, and more.
If you have the skills to make repairs, then go ahead to do them. Otherwise, take the vehicle to a professional mechanic to get the vehicle repaired.