10 Reasons Why Your SUV Squeaks

10 Reasons Why Your SUV Squeaks

Squeaky duck on a car's dashboard.
Sometimes, the culprit is not the rubber duckie on your dashboard.

Over time, cars will inevitably develop issues such as squeaking or squealing, regardless of the brand.

Your SUV will not be an exception—especially if you haven’t been following the required service schedule. 

Are you hearing some weird squeaky noises lately when you’re driving, turning, etc.?

In this post, we’ll differentiate squealing and squeaking. We will also discuss the possible reasons why your SUV is making that annoying squeaking sound. 

Table of Contents

Squealing Vs Squeaking in SUVs

Squealing is a sound that’s closer to a high-pitch scream from a small child. It’s more similar to screeching. Squeaking, on the other hand, is the sound you hear when two things rub against each other, with a lot of friction. 

Your car can squeal or squeak, and even produce both sounds at the same time. That’s why, in this post, we will mention both squealing and squeaking. However, take note that they’re not interchangeable. 

Moreover, the causes for either can also be different. Most of the time, squeaking is due to lack of lubrication. Squealing, meanwhile, is typical because of low power-steering fluid. 

Now, is the sound from your car a squeal or a squeak? Or is it both? 

Find out below.

Why your SUV might be squeaking

Your Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV) may win when it comes to safety. However, that doesn’t mean it’s invincible against wear and tear. It will produce a lot of weird sounds from time to time. Now, you should start being concerned when it’s producing those noises consistently.

Below are the possible causes of squeaking or squealing. 

1. You have steering system problems. 

Driving a car in city. Man is driving modern SUV.
Your steering system might be needing an upkeep.

Most SUVs have Pinion steering system, which is crucial to your handling’s effectivity. As a result, if one of its parts break down, it affects the entire system, bearing a critical impact on your handling. 

How do you know if something’s wrong? 

You can tell there’s a problem if there are creaking or squeaking sounds when you turn the steering wheel. That might mean the steering column’s bearings and gears are not functioning well. Besides the squeaking, listen closely to any popping, grinding, or clicking. 

Now, if you think the squeaking comes from your steering system, your car will need a wheel inspection. Depending on the degree of the issue, the mechanic might suggest a replacement. 

2. Your alternator is nearing its end. 

A mechanic at work, taking the alternator off and some hoses for heating and cooling systems
Is it time to replace or repair your alternator?

This one’s tricky because the signs for a defecting alternator can sometimes go unnoticed. The signs can also appear as something unserious. 

However, you have to be wary of… 

  • Squeaking
  • Grinding 
  • Rattling
  • Growling
  • Dimming lights
  • Weakening battery
  • Warning lights

All of these imply a dysfunction. 

That’s because, inside your alternator, you can find these parts called rotor and stator. The rotor, particularly, will spin to generate electrical current when the engine rotates the alternator pulley. 

Now, if those parts break down, you’ll start hearing strange sounds such as squeaking or squealing. After that, all the other symptoms follow.

If you see or hear any of those signs mentioned, book an alternator inspection immediately. The alternator is significant since it recycles your car’s power, which is why you need to repair it immediately before it dies. 

3. The fan belts are already worn or loosened.

Fanbelt tensioner drive belt isolated on white.
You either have to tighten or change your fan belts.

Inside a car is a belt system, composed of the Serpentine belts and accessory belts. The entire system assists in delivering the engine’s rotational energy to its components. 

Therefore, if any of those fan belts break down, the parts that needed that rotational energy will stop functioning as well. For instance, your alternator, A/C system, and water pump will not work as it should anymore.

Any or several of the belts can loosen or wear out, causing the squeaking or grinding. Here are possible root causes.

  1. Leakage affected the belt’s quality.
  2. The rubber belt is not well tensioned or installed.
  3. The drive belt tensioner is not correctly straightened.
  4. Some of the belts eventually became brittle due to old age.
  5. Worsening driving/weather conditions deteriorated the belt’s sturdiness.

If you doubt that the squeaking is because of the fan belts, your mechanic should inspect the whole belt system. Based on the issue, they will either tighten the belts or apply belt dressing, so the system’s efficiency will improve. 

4. Worn brake pads and rotors due to rubbing friction.

automotive brake pads. Isolated on white background
Excessive friction can never be good for brake pads.

Possibly,  the squeaking you’re hearing is because of the wearing steel brake pads and brake rotors are already worn. 

If you hear the squeaky, grinding sound of two metallic surfaces, that might be the pads already touching the brake rotor, warping them in the process. You might also see some depression or dents on the rotors.

You should get this fixed shortly in the service center. If you continue driving with worn rotors and brake pads, you might not stop your car immediately in emergencies. Your stopping time is more likely to increase. 

To avoid the brake pads and rotors from wearing down in the future, you should follow your regular service schedule.

5. There is a lack of lubrication in the suspension parts.

the suspension system of the car
An SUV’s suspension parts need to be regularly lubricated.

One of the most common causes of squeaking is, of course, lack of lubrication in the suspension. If they don’t have adequate lubrication, you’ll hear a lot of squeaking—most of it is probably coming from the joints, center links, and tie-rods. 

Now, if the suspension parts wore continuously over time, it will affect the wheels, eventually letting your mileage suffer down the road. 

The tie rods, especially, will also create an impact on the steering mechanism, so they need to be inspected and maintained at all times.

Worse, this kind of problem becomes even harder to fix the longer you try to neglect it. 

As a result, don’t delay and contact a mechanic, so they can lube those serviceable parts. That means some components require checking but don’t need regular lubrication since they’re sealed. 

6. The door panel seals are roughened.

Car door edge guards rubber seal to protect door edge.
Weatherstripping your door panels are not that hard.

In SUVs, especially, the squeaking sounds might come from the worn down and unlubricated door seals. Most of the time, it also comes with a distinct rattling sound when you’re driving.

The common culprits for the worn seals can be poor-quality weatherstripping, reckless closing/opening of the doors, and the car’s old age. 

Now, the solution to this is applying a good rubber seal protectant and conditioner to your door seals. Fortunately, DIY weatherstripping is quite easy to do and you can buy the sealant/conditioner at your local hardware store. 

Nevertheless, you can find many types of sealants, so you have to be meticulous. Most protectants don’t dry easily, leaving a greasy feeling on your door seals. 

Consequently, look for protectants and conditioners with fast-drying quality. Also, look for versatile products that you can use on rubber, vinyl, or plastic door seals. 

7. Your car’s hinges, locks, or latches are rusty.

Rusty blue car door hinge
Noisy driving can be blamed on your car’s collection of rusty hinges, latches, or locks.

Miss your long, quiet car rides? You might want to check the hinges, locks, and latches in your hood, trunk, and doors. Those metal parts might be filled with rust already, hence the squeaking noises.

Fortunately, the answer to this age-related problem won’t take you days or a big budget to solve. You just need to take out those parts and use a ball of new steel wool to scrub off the pesky rusts. 

Additionally, you might want to invest in good-quality but affordable lubricant, so you can get rid of those squeaks. We suggest graphite lubricant for your car’s locks since dirt won’t stick to them once applied.

Want the quietness to last even longer? Invest in a sealant, so those small metal parts will withstand external elements and driving conditions better. 

8. The power steering fluid is running out.

Hand man opening power steering fluid cap
It might also be time for you to refill your car’s power steering fluid.

Are your wheels whining or squealing when you turn? Or do you hear a whirring sound? Your car’s power steering pump might be leaking its fluid. 

What could be the cause of the leak? Your steering system’s cooler, which contains the power steering fluid, might have been damaged. 

It’s typically located at the front of the car, so with consistent contact and neglect, it might have succumbed and leaked the steering power fluid.

The good news is that it’s simple to replace the fluid—you can even do it on your own since power steering fluids are available at automobile shops. 

Why should you get it checked or replaced immediately, though? 

Well, your car’s power steering system’s fluid helps minimize your effort in steering. Consequently, you might have a hard time handling and steering when you run out of this fluid. 

Additionally, since the fluid that leaks is the “bottom of the barrel”, it can leak fluid that contains metal particles. This will damage the other parts of the steering system. 

9. Your car’s ball joints are worn down.

Technician installs new ball joint on the car
Don’t let your ball joints fail your SUV.

Do you feel excessive vibration at the front of your car or hear clunking sounds, besides the squeaking? 

A worn ball joint might explain those. 

Just like your body’s joints, your car also has ball joints and they can deteriorate due to old age. 

The lower ball joints, in particular, break down faster because they’re positioned at the front, carrying your SUV’s frontal weight. 

It’s crucial that you let a mechanic check their health because they serve purposes in the wheels and the steering wheel. 

For instance, ball joints link your SUV’s connecting arms to the steering knuckle. Moreover, since the ball joints help regulate your tires’ direction, their damage can also mean trouble for the latter. 

Your mechanic might recommend the replacement of these ball joints and alignment.

10. The rubber bushings are broken.

Hand with Car suspension stabilizer bush
Change your bushings or the part itself to eliminate the squeaking.

If your car has ball joints, it also has cartilage, which is the rubber bushings. You can find them in the control arms, ball joints, sway bars, steering system, tie rods, and many more. 

The rubber bushings help reduce the noise and regulate the joints’ movement. Moreover, they assist in absorbing road bumps—they cushion your car. 

Therefore, if they are starting to deteriorate, you might also start hearing weird noises like squealing, rattling, etc. 

Do you live near the coastal area? Your rubber bushings might have probably fallen victim to moisture. High exposure to road salt and friction often easily shorten their life cycle. 

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Eventually, you’ll see cracks on them, which means you need to replace the bushings or the part itself. 

Now, how soon should you get those bushings replaced?

We suggest doing it as soon as possible because the more you prolong it, the more time and effort it will take to fix in the future.

Should you go to a mechanic if you hear squeaking? 

If you have no prior upkeep or repair experience, then it’s best to get in touch with a service provider. The squeaking or squealing sound might already be the small, long-drawn symptoms of a more major problem. Therefore, in this case, the adage “better safe than sorry” truly applies. 

Why does my car squeak when I turn?

The reason might be as simple as a rough road surface. However, it could also be that you’re running low on power steering fluid. Your steering system and suspension parts might also have long-drawn major issues, which are now bubbling to the surface. 

What does a squeaky steering wheel mean?

Something in your steering system might be lacking adequate lubrication. It could also be a suspension part that lost lubrication over time. Another reason is it might be requiring a refill of a power steering fluid. 

Final thoughts

However serious you suspect the reason is, you shouldn’t delay taking action. Those small squeaking sounds might snowball into problems that might endanger your life. 

As always, vigilance will help prevent accidents. Negligence will only lead you closer to harm. 

Do you know any other possible root cause when an SUV squeaks? Let us know in the comments below. 

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