Old doors. Cabinets. Rocking chairs. Chew toys. Baby mice. What do all of these things have in common? They squeak. And when they do (as is the case with adolescent rodents), it can actually be pretty cute. But when your car does it? Not so much.
In fact, if your car squeaks when turning right or turning left, it can be maddening. What is causing the squeaking? Why does it only squeak when you turn? Is it serious or something you can wait to address? The answer can depend on your car’s unique situation, but read on to discover some of the most common causes for car squeaks.
7 Reasons Your Car is Squeaking
If your car squeaks when turning, it’s likely that it's time to have the power steering system serviced. Or it could have something to do with fluids, belts or lubricants associated with it. Specifically, you could be experiencing one of the following seven scenarios:
1. Your power steering system is failing
Your power steering system consists of hoses, a steering gear and pump. If any of these components wears down, it can affect the efficiency of the power steering system and cause it to fail. When this happens, the pump will whine, squeak or squeal when you turn the wheel. This is because the steering gear is connected to where the wheels are attached. Of course, it may not be the actual power steering system; it could be another issue.
2. Your power steering fluid is low (or contaminated)
Whether due to a leak or because you haven’t changed it in a while, your power steering fluid level could result in squeaking sounds when you turn. Power steering fluid lubricates your power steering system, so whenever the steering wheel isn’t centered, there can be a loud noise if there isn’t enough fluid. Contaminated power steering fluid can also contribute to noise. (If there’s a leak that’s a strange color or in a different area of the car, however, it might be another issue.)
3. The steering wheel belt needs to be changed
The squeaking might not even be because of the actual power steering system but something attached to the power steering system. If your steering wheel belt is loose or worn out, it can cause squeaking and could eventually snap, making steering the car almost impossible. This is one of the reasons it’s important to get that squeaking checked out if you’re unsure of the cause.
4. There’s a problem with ball joints or bushings
Also related to the power steering system (picking up a trend here?), the ball bushings or joints may need to be changed out. If this is the problem, you’ll usually experience vibrating in addition to squeaking when you turn. You definitely want to replace these as soon as possible if they’re failing, so you can avoid a potentially dangerous situation.
5. You’ve lost suspension and steering lubrication
While power steering fluid lubricates the pump in the power steering system, other components in (and attached to) the power steering system need lubrication as well. Whether it’s a tie rod, seal, bushing, ball joint or something else, if it’s dried out, it can make noise when the steering wheel is moving. Fortunately, a mechanic can figure out which component needs lubrication.
6. You’re driving on an unusual surface
Don’t think the power steering system is the reason for your car squeaking when you turn? It could just be that you’re driving on an uneven or rubber road surface. Your tire tread type and composition could also result in an odd noise while turning on certain surfaces.
7. Your car is new
If the weather is hot or you have a new car, you may hear some squeaking because of friction between the steering wheel housing and interior trim. This is usually just a superficial issue that you can address by getting a new steering wheel cover, adjusting the steering wheel position or changing out your interior trim.
If you’re having issues with your car squeaking while turning, it’s probably a good idea to bring your car in to a mechanic to avoid a potentially dangerous situation.
How to Fix Steering and Suspension Issues
Again, if you aren’t driving on an unusual surface and your car isn’t new, it’s wise to bring your car in to an auto repair shop if you hear squeaking while turning your car. A technician will inspect your steering and suspension systems and diagnose or repair any issues related to the squeaking. You want to make sure every component in your power steering system is working properly and lubricated, or you run the risk of your power steering failing while you’re on the road, which is dangerous. In addition to checking out puzzling squeaks, an auto repair technician can address any other steering and suspension issues, including steering wheels that pull or other problems that can interfere with vehicle control.
Rainbow Muffler & Brake offers a full line of steering and suspension maintenance packages to keep your vehicle operating safely. If you’re experiencing squeaking or another issue, visit one of our six mechanic shops in Cleveland today.