Cars make lots of different sounds, especially when they are fully functioning. However, some sounds can sound an alarm, and one such sound is when the car squeals or squeaks when turning. This is usually a telling sign that something is wrong.
Your first instinct will probably be to take it to a mechanic so they can take a look at the problem. What if there is a way to find out the cause of the problem and fix it by yourself?
It is important to note that if you do not have prior knowledge of cars or cannot fix the car by yourself, you should take it to a car shop. This ensures you don’t make the problem worse and consequently pay a much higher bill when you eventually take it.
What Causes the Squeaking Sound?
The sound can be because of several reasons; these can include:
Power Steering System Failure
Power steering has the loudest node in most cars. You can usually hear its buzz whenever you are driving. The power steering system consists of a steering box, pump, and hoses. A failure in any of the parts can lead it to produce an annoying sound when steering. The system is attached to the car’s wheels. Turning the wheels, if there is a problem with parts of the system, can create a whining sound.
If you own an old car, you might need to replace the pump or hose for the noise to stop. Newer model cars are easier to deal with as you only need to fix the part that is causing the problem without needing to replace anything.
Older model cars, on the other hand, are harder to deal with. Because of their frequent use, their parts are worn out and might require you to replace the whole part.
Contamination of the Power Steering Fluid
The power steering fluid is crucial for any car. It uses the hydraulic flow to transmit power and energy to the car’s steering system. Applying pressure on the power steering fluid puts pressure on the sides of the car’s piston, lubricating the pump. The lubrication helps the car run more smoothly and reduces friction between the parts.
Power steering fluid can occasionally become faulty. This could be as a result of the fluid degrading when its components interfere with the power steering system. If it becomes infected, it may also go bad.
Long-term use of the fluid degrades the steering mechanism. As a result, little pieces of the seals, bearings, gaskets, and hoses break off. The fluid’s inside is slowly filled with fragments. Examining the fluid’s color will allow you to determine whether there is contamination. A color that is darker than typical denotes pollution.
Unclean fluid clogs up the steering system, making it hard for you to accelerate. The acceleration can also produce loud squeaks and squealing, especially when making sharp turns.
Low Power Steering Fluid
While your car can still operate without the low power steering fluid, not using it can destroy your steering system. This applies even to cars with power-assisted steering, as they can also do with the extra lubrication.
Without adequate lubrication, the steering system can start wearing and tearing before its time. Insufficient lubrication also causes the car to produce a lot of noise. It needs the right amount for it to work smoothly.
Aside from stopping the sounds, the steering fluid also makes the car easy to control. The steering wheel can become sluggish due to a lack of fluid, meaning you will have to use more effort to move a short distance, especially when changing lanes.
Bad Shocks and Struts
Shock absorbers help prevent your car from veering off course when turning, driving off-road, braking, or accelerating. They make controlling your car easier, letting you focus on the road ahead.
There are multiple ways to determine if you need new shocks and struts or not. Luckily, you can easily find both of these products in most online retail stores. Getting replacements for these parts is sometimes necessary, especially when they start producing a squeaking noise.
Shocks and strut noises are different from other squeaking noises that your car produces. These sounds tend to be continuous and more frequent.
An increasing or continuous frequency of the squeaking sound shows you that the shocks and struts are getting worse and may be on the verge of breaking down.
You need to be careful if you drive at full speed constantly or on rough terrain, as this could wear the parts out faster, leading to your car losing balance and crashing.
Interior Trim Rubbing
The steering wheel housing is another squeaking noise source. During hot weather, the metal material expands, closing the gap between the interior trim and the material itself. This causes the two surfaces to rub against each other when driving, resulting in a lot of noise.
An expanded steering wheel case also wears down slowly if not changed. It also wears down the interior trim. Aside from that, the rubbing can also lead to poor steering from the constant friction. It makes fast turns hard and dangerous.
There are two belts that can cause a squeaking noise. One of them is the steering wheel belt. This belt can come loose if used for long periods, producing noise. It can also start wearing out because of years of driving, an issue more common in used cars with more mileage.
The second belt is the fan belt. It is one of the most important parts of any car, connecting parts, such as the crankshaft pulley, alternator, and cooling fan. You need to take action as soon as possible when it starts squeaking. The belt can wear itself out or become loose from frequent use.
Suspension systems in your car also need constant lubrication. You need to lubricate the seals, ball joints, universal joints, and tie rods. These parts move when the car turns, and without proper lubrication, there will be a lot of friction, leading to wear and tear of the movable parts.
The more you drive, the more friction and wear and tear there is on the parts. Additionally, it rises while the suspension system is under pressure. This entails quick turns or abrupt angular turns. Non-lubricated joints can make noises other than squeaks as well, such as shrieking, grinding, or crackling.
The sounds indicate strong pressure and excess friction on the joints.
Driving on Unusual Surfaces
It is nearly impossible to drive on the same asphalt roads every day of your life. Sometimes, your journey leads to other roads; these might be overly smooth or over rough surfaces. You can also drive on uneven roads. All these different terrains put a strain on your tires, producing the sound.
The tread and depth of the tires can also contribute to the noise. The composition and size of the tires can also be another cause.
There is nothing much you can do about this problem unless you opt to change your tires whenever you drive on different terrain.
Bushing and Ball Joint Problems
The bushings and ball joints are a crucial part of the system. They do the bulk of the work when driving and, as such, might need replacement frequently. You will need to change them as soon as they begin showing signs of being defective to avoid further damage to your car.
It is not easy to detect problems with the ball joints and bushing. Studying them gives you a reference point if they need changing in the future. One of the ways you can spot the problem is by picking up the loud squeaking sounds. Sometimes the damaged joints can also cause vibrations whenever the car turns.
A car you just bought recently is likely to produce numerous sounds. This is because the parts are still stiff and will need more road time before everything smoothens out. ‘Break in the car‘ by giving it some test runs, taking as many turns as you can. This helps it adapt to use faster and will cause the sounds to lessen over time.
Another thing that could affect new cars is the temperature. Keep your car somewhere cool, especially if you buy it in the summer. The heat from the surroundings can affect and expand the metal sections of the car, causing them to interfere with and rub against other parts.
If you can still hear the car squeaking even after breaking it in and storing it in cool weather, it might be time to call in an expert. Contact the mechanic or manufacturer and tell them the issue soon as you can to catch the problem, before it damages the whole car.
Related: How Long Does A Wheel Bearing Last After It Starts Making Noise?
How to Fix the Squeaking Noises
Fixing the car squeaking problem is not hard. It also doesn’t require a lot of expertise. You only need to lubricate all the moving parts and refill the steering fluid.
If the solutions fail, take the car to a mechanic and have them service it to determine the problem.
Further Reading: How to Make Your Car Quieter Inside
Lubricate Moving Parts
Since moving parts are more subject to friction and wear and tear than other parts, you have to lubricate them properly. This stops or slows down the wear and tear, stopping the annoying sound.
Find out what lubricants work well with your car model and when and where the car will need lubrication. You can also talk to a specialist to get more advice and avoid overdoing it.
Change or Refill the Power Steering Fluid
Do a run-through of your car and see whether the power steering fluid has run out or is contaminated. You can then either refill or replace the fluid, depending on the problem. You can get a high-quality steering fluid on Amazon that works well with any car.
Ensure that everything is okay with the fluid before refilling it. Ensure that it is not past its due date, the canister is not tampered with, and it is not damaged. Another thing to check is the color of the fluid. If it is darker than the usual fluid, throw it away and get a new canister.
Also, before refilling, check to see that the fluid inside is uncontaminated. Adding fresh, new fluid to contaminated fluid only ruins the new fluid. You can use a tester to see if the fluid inside the car is the same color as it was when you bought it. You can check the fluid color on the owner’s manual to confirm the color.
Flush the fluid if something is wrong with it before refilling. You will also need to clean the power steering fluid reservoir before putting in the new fluid. This is because some of the contaminants might still be in the reservoir; even a little dust can contaminate the new fluid.
Flushing the Power Steering Fluid
One of the ways to flush the system is by siphoning the bad fluid out of the reservoir. You can use a baster to do this or any other siphoning material you have. Once you remove as much fluid as you can, turn the steering wheel again and get the remaining fluid. You can remove the fluid by disconnecting the hose from the pressure line and turning the steering wheel to flush out the remaining fluid.
Make sure you have something to hold the fluid to avoid causing a mess, such as a funnel, a catch can, and some paper towels. Turn the steering wheel back and forth until no more fluid comes out of the hose.
If no more old fluid comes out, add fresh fluid to clean the reservoir. Collect the fluid until only the clean and clear power steering fluid comes out. You can then connect the pipe to the metal return line to help bleed the system. after attaching the hose, reattach it and refill the reservoir with the new power transmission fluid.
Turn the steering a few times to get the excess air out of the system. after that, start the engine and turn it a little to let the new fluid get into the system. You might need to add more fluid after turning the car on as the fluid level can deplete while the car is running. Take the car for a test ride and check whether you will need to add more fluid afterward.
Check the Suspensions
If you discover that the suspension system is the cause of the squeaking sound, you will need to tend to the system before things get out of hand. Some of the ways you can stop your suspension system from squeaking and help maintain them are:
- Soaking the system with spray-on lithium grease. Spray the grease on all the suspension parts to add more lubrication and reduce friction and wear and tear.
- Use silicone spray if the rubber suspension is the issue. Rubber suspensions don’t work well with lithium grease and can worsen the issue.
- Replace the suspension. This is a more permanent solution when dealing with worn-out or damaged suspension.
Also, Check These Effective Solutions to Car Speakers that Rattle with Bass
Service the Car Regularly
Like any other item, cars need regular service to ensure everything is in tip-top shape. Take your car for service after every three months. You might also need to do shorter service trips in between if you think something is wrong with your car.
Therefore, if your car still produces a squeaking sound after you have done all the checks and suggested remedies, it might be time to take it to the mechanic. Don’t be discouraged that you could not fix it yourself; leave it in the hands of a professional who will ensure the car is as good as new.
The mechanic will do more than just fix the squeaking noises. They can give you good care and maintenance tips that will help keep your steering system and suspension in check. They are also able to answer any questions regarding your car, so make sure you get enough solutions to deal with your car in case it starts squeaking again.
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