My car squeaks when turning! What should I do?
Let’s face it; some noises are just plain annoying. There are plenty of sounds that your car will make to cause you frustration and despair over its life, but when a car squeaks? It’s just plain annoying.
A squeak could be nothing. Or it could be something.
It could be the start of something and nothing that will inevitably lead to more severe problems. Or it could be pretty much nothing at all.
If your front left wheel is squeaking when turning left, or your right wheel has started to howl when you steer right, it’s time to diagnose the problem and cure that infernal, and irritating noise, once and for all.
Here’s the Fixter guide to the most likely causes, when you hear a car wheel squeaking.
1. There could be damage to the power steering
Your car’s power steering system consists of several components. Each one is susceptible to wear and damage, and could require attention at some point during its life.
Every power steering system contains a pump, steering gear and some hoses. If any of these fail or suffer damage, the result could be that annoying squeak coming from under the hood.
A failing pump will whine. Faulty steering gears can squeal. Either of these could be responsible when your car makes a squeaking noise when turning.
2. The power steering fluid is low
It could have been a long time since you had it checked (but it shouldn’t be—what happened to regular services and MOTs?) or you may have suffered a leak. Either way, a lack of power steering fluid could be the reason your car makes a squeaking noise when turning right or left.
Power steering fluid is responsible for keeping many of the system components lubricated. Without it, a squeak is highly likely.
It’s a simple fix: top it up! And if that doesn’t work, move on to the next step in our guide.
3. The power steering fluid is contaminated
If any debris or contaminant has found its way into your power steering fluid, then it won’t be doing its job as efficiently as it should. Larger pieces of debris cause unnecessary friction where you really don’t want it. And you know what that means? Grinding, clunking, or our nemesis, the squeak.
4. The suspension and steering has lost lubrication
Another reason a car makes a squealing noise when turning left or right could be not having the correct amount of lubrication.
A lack of lubrication in moving parts will undoubtedly cause an unhealthy squeak. Both suspension and steering feature continually moving parts, and require permanent lubrication for premium operation.
Tie rods, seals, bushings and ball-joints all need to be lubricated, so if you’ve developed a squeak, that’s one or two more items you should put on your checklist.
5. Is it your ball joints or bushings?
Some other components that work closely with your power steering are the ball bushings and ball joints. As well as having to listen to that annoying squeaking when turning left or right, you’ll also feel some vibration.
If your ball joints and bushings are failing, get them replaced as soon as possible.
6. There’s a fault with your steering wheel belt
Squeaks while steering aren’t always connected to the power steering system (although, a lot of them are). A worn or loose steering wheel belt can cause squeaking too. If a steering wheel belt is on its way out, we don’t have to tell you how dangerous that could be.
7. Tyre rub from snapped suspension springs
The squeak from your wheel could be the tyre rubbing against the wheel arch or a broken suspension spring. Whenever a coil spring snaps, there is a danger of it puncturing the tyre. Alternatively, it may just rest against it, causing both the annoying squeak and a terrible burning rubber smell.
The smell alone should be evocative enough sign of what to look for in these cases.
8. Squeaky new steering wheels
There is a chance, for those of you with a brand new car that is already squeaking, that it could be the way the steering wheel housing has settled into the new trim. Hot weather can cause some materials to expand, filling gaps, and causing friction. Friction responsible for annoying car squeaks when turning left or right.
9. Some road surfaces create surprising sounds
It’s a bit left-field, but some of the road surfaces you’ll drive your car along, especially at speed, can cause peculiar sounds between them and your tyres.
An uneven road, or particularly one with a rubber-based surface, can react with particular tyre treads and types, resulting in a peculiar whine, hum or moan. If you’re parked—or moving very slowly—sharp turning or stationary steering can cause the same tyres to squeak on those types of roads.
10. Have you checked your brakes?
Another component often guilty of emitting a nasty squeak is your brakes. They sit inside your wheels so could easily be affected by any part of the steering system that has worn, worked loose or has leaked fluid or pieces of rust and corrosion into the braking system.
If you haven’t located your squeak from points 1 to 9, we’d suggest they’re definitely worth a look.
Other nasty noises to keep an eye (or an ear) out for
There are plenty of noises emitting from under your bonnet, your wheels, the boot or anywhere else that could cause concern.
Creaks and clunks
The main offender is often wear-and-tear on shockers and suspension components.
Grinding and squealing
These sounds generally suggest brake issues. Check the disks and pads for wear or for anything trapped between the 2 parts that shouldn’t be there.
A steady hum suggests your wheel bearings are coming to an end or that a wheel isn’t balanced correctly. Have your Fixter mechanic check them out for you.