Why does my car squeak when I drive?

My car seems to be running fine, but there’s a squeaking sound whenever I drive. What could be causing it?

Melanie Krieps Mergen · Updated on
Reviewed by Shannon Martin, Licensed Insurance Agent.
Not only is a squeaky sound irritating, but it can also indicate a few serious issues that you should get checked out ASAP.
The most common reason for your car to squeak while driving is worn-out brake pads, especially if it’s only happening when you hit the brakes. 
Let’s look at a few more possible causes:
  • Worn brake pads: Brake pads are actually designed to squeak when it’s time to have your brakes checked.
  • Loose fan belt: If your fan belt (also called the serpentine belt) is loose or worn out, your car will emit a high-pitched squeal when accelerating or starting your car in cold weather. This could also indicate a problem with your timing belt.
  • Vacuum leak: If the sound is more of a whistle coming from under the hood, one of your hoses in the air intake system may be leaking.
  • Low steering fluid: If you hear the squeak when turning, your power steering fluid may be low or contaminated.
  • Worn-out ball joints: If the sound happens when you turn and adding power steering fluid didn’t fix the problem, your ball joints may be worn and need to be replaced.
  • Faulty alternator: The most serious cause is a faulty alternator, which will cause a squeaky noise coming from your engine. This could also include a burning smell and a warning light on your dash. You should always get your car checked by a mechanic as soon as possible if you notice any unusual sounds coming from your vehicle. The earlier on you can catch a problem, the likelier it is you’ll keep your vehicle protected from more serious damage later on.
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Jerry partners with more than 50 insurance companies, but our content is independently researched, written, and fact-checked by our team of editors and agents. We aren’t paid for reviews or other content.

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