Squeaks and squeals - almost every driver has experienced them. And unfortunately, they are usually indicative of something that’s not working properly.
While some sounds are the product of something already gone amiss, sometimes they are warning signs of a potentially serious issue. That’s why any unusual sound coming from your car should never be put off.
Understanding the most common explanations for unwanted vehicle noises can help you know what you’re up against and ultimately, what you can do to stop them.
Underinflated tires are probably the most common cause of squeals, usually occurring while making sharp turns. Though there are other warning signs that your tires need more air, squeaks or squeals are telltale symptoms. Underinflated tires perform poorly in inclement weather and lead to downgrades in traction, so these are squeals that you do not want to ignore. Air fills are usually as cheap as a quarter, though we recommend you invest in a tire pressure gauge
if you do not already have one, just to make sure you are not overinflating your tires when you fill them up.
Uneven Tread Wear
Squealing and squeaking can also be a sign of worn down or uneven tire tread wear. Over time and with high usage, tire tread starts to break down. Tread blocks will become dull or peel off the surface of your tire, resulting in uneven tread patterns and depths. Tire tread is what gives your vehicle the gripping strength as it meets the road, so when it starts to wear out, braking and turning becomes more difficult. This is when you will start to hear your tires squeal. Have your tires rotated
and balanced regularly
at your local Pep Boys
to get the maximum tread life out of your tires.
One of the less noticeable causes of squeaking and squealing in your tires could be loose wheel covers or lugs. You probably won’t encounter this as often as an underinflated tire or uneven tread wear, but it could spell trouble. Hitting a nasty bump or edge in the road could jar the lugs or bolts of the wheel loose, creating awkward friction between the outer surface of the wheel and the tire. Fixing this is usually simple, but your safest bet is to take it to your local Pep Boys
to have the lugs tightened and the wheels checked for any structural damage.
There is always a possibility that the noises you hear are not coming from your tires, but in fact, a different part of your car. Squeaking noises can often be an indication that something might be wrong with your brakes - most commonly because of issues with the brake pads and rotor vibrations. If you’re not sure what sound you're hearing, go to our bad brake noise
page to determine the issue you may be having with your brakes.
Structural problems to the interior or exterior of your car can cause similar noises. You should always err on the side of caution and get these noises checked by a trusted car expert
before they turn into more serious problems and impact your safety. For more information, visit our maintenance diagnostic
page in our research and learn section to learn more about your car.