Are you bothered by a strange squeaking noise coming from your car while driving, but not when applying brakes? If so, you’re not alone. This issue is a common concern for many car owners and can be caused by various factors. In this blog post, we will focus on the possible reasons behind the “Squeaking Noise While Driving But Not Brakes Applied” and provide simple steps to diagnose and solve the issue. So, buckle up, and let’s get started.
Causes of Squeaking Noise While Driving But Not Brakes Applied?
If you’re experiencing this but not applying the brakes, a potential cause could be excess moisture. Wet conditions, such as rain or snow, can cause humidity and rust to form on your rotors, leading to loud and annoying squeaks.
Old brake pads
The metal clamp, called the brake wear indicator, that fastens to the brake pads tends to deteriorate over time, causing the pads to grind against the rotors. This friction generates that annoying squeaky sound you hear while driving. While it may not be dangerous, it’s wise to never drive for an extended period of time without replacing your old brake pads.
The caliper is a vital component of your car’s braking system, containing the brake pads and other related components. If it becomes stuck or seized, your brakes may remain engaged even if you’re not pressing the pedal. This can result in a persistent squeaking noise while driving. Several factors can cause a jammed caliper, including corrosion and neglect. If left unchecked, this problem can lead to more severe issues such as tugging to one side and even rotor fires.
Stones and sticks
One of the most common culprits is stones and sticks. Especially in rural areas with lots of debris on the roads, it’s not uncommon for small rocks or tree branches to get lodged between your brake pads and rotors, causing an irritating squeak. If this is the case, it’s important to inspect your brakes and remove any foreign objects that may have gotten trapped. However, if the object is soft like a branch, it should break easily and not pose any further problems.
Suspension system failure
The suspension system is responsible for keeping your vehicle stable while driving. If it fails, you may experience a variety of issues, including squeaking noises. This can occur when ball joints, bushings, or other suspension components wear out or break, causing the suspension to become loose and produce a noisy, creaking sound. Not only is this sound irritating, but it could also indicate a dangerous situation if the suspension system fails completely while driving.
Over time, the brake pads in your car wear down and can cause grooves or glazes on the surface of the rotors. This uneven abrasion can result in a squeaking noise even when the brakes aren’t being applied. So, if you’re experiencing an unwelcome symphony of squeaks, it’s worth asking your mechanic to take a look at your rotors and see if they need cleaning or replacing.
Brake pad material
Although ceramic brake pads are a preferred material for many automakers due to their durability, they can produce a squeaking noise. However, it’s important to distinguish this noise from other causes of squeaking while driving without the brakes applied.
A helpful test is to use a little knife to make shallow scrapes on a ceramic platter. If an immediate squeaking sound is audible, it’s likely the noise is due to the brake pads. In this case, you may want to consider replacing them with semi-metallic pads, though be aware that this could come with an additional cost.
Unfortunately, technician negligence can also be a factor in brake noise. If your mechanic fails to lubricate your brake pins or apply anti-seize after changing your rotors, your car’s brakes can make that dreaded squeaky sound. To avoid this issue, be sure to inform your mechanic to lubricate or replace the “anti-rattle” brackets or pins to minimize brake pad noise.
Properly lubricating the rotating parts in your vehicle is essential for optimal performance, including your braking system. If the shoe brake backing plate is not lubricated properly, you may hear a squealing noise when you press the brake pedal. And if your engine oil is low or not functioning correctly, your brake pedal may scratch the backing plate, leading to that annoying squeaking sound. If left unchecked, rust can accumulate, causing even more screeching and potential damage to your brakes.
Worn-out wheel bearings
Wheel bearings play a key role in your car’s ability to move smoothly and silently. Over time, they can wear out, resulting in irritating noises when you turn your steering wheel or press the brakes. If this is the case, it may be time for a wheel bearing replacement.
Can you continue to drive a car with squeaking noise but brakes are not applied?
The answer is yes, but it’s not recommended. Squeaking brake noises may not necessarily be dangerous, but they can be quite bothersome and distracting to you and the people around you. If your brakes are squealing, it’s best to take care of the issue right away. Ignoring it may lead to further complications like warping of rotors and shorter stopping distances. It’s important to note that brakes have a limited lifespan and can wear out over time. So act as soon as you notice any signals of brake wear and fix the issue immediately.
What More Sounds May Brakes Make?
If you hear a grinding noise while braking, it’s crucial to take it seriously and head to the repair shop immediately. This indicates that the brake pad has worn down so much that metal-to-metal contact is happening. Not addressing the issue can lead to serious damage and make it harder to stop the car.
A brake problem that can drive motorists crazy and drain the technician’s energy is a thumping noise coming from the rear of the car. Identifying the issue can be tricky and time-consuming, but it’s usually caused by the rear drums. A thorough inspection and lubrication can resolve the problem.
While it may be annoying, a squealing noise during braking typically doesn’t indicate anything dangerous. It’s often caused by dirty brakes and can be resolved by driving the car a little to wear off the dirt. If the noise persists, a short visit to the repair shop may be necessary.
How to fix squeaking noise while driving without braking?
Drive Forward and Backward a Couple of Times
One solution to try first is to repeatedly move the car forward and backward. This can help to loosen any debris that may be stuck in the wheels or brakes. After giving it a few tries, be sure to carefully inspect the area to see if there is any remaining debris. It’s critical not to over-force any parts while trying to clear the debris, as this could cause even more damage.
Inspect the Brakes
Debris is often the culprit, but if that’s not the problem, a brake inspection is in order. Calipers can seize, leading to a potentially dangerous driving situation if left unchecked. Additionally, corrosion and rust on the brake pads and rotors can cause noise and performance issues.
Swapping out these components with high-quality replacements can help restore proper brake function and get rid of the squeaks.
Inspect the Engine for Noises
If you are experiencing a squeaking noise while driving and you have determined that it is not coming from your brakes, it’s time to inspect the engine.
Pay close attention to the noise while the engine is running. It’s most likely originating from a belt. If you see that, you should replace it right away to prevent further damage.
Another common cause of squeaking noises while driving is a damaged transmission. To check if this is the issue, you should check the fluid level and inspect all related parts for any signs of wear and tear. If there are any issues with your transmission, it’s best to get it serviced or replaced as soon as possible.
FAQs about Squeaking noise while driving but not brakes applied
Why is my car squeaking, but when I brake it stops?
If you hear a continuous squeal while driving but it stops when you brake, it’s probably the brake wear indicator touching the rotor’s surface.
Why is my car making a screeching sound while driving?
Your suspension system is responsible for minimizing the impact of bumps and potholes, making for a smoother ride. However, if you’re hearing screeching noises, it could be a sign of damaged shock absorbers or springs. Contact a qualified mechanic to diagnose and fix the issue as soon as possible.
How to diagnose a squeaky car?
Is it safe to drive a squeaky car?
It’s not safe to drive a car with squeaky brakes since the brake pads might be worn down and become thinner over time, which can lead to brake failure. Therefore, if you hear squeaking, thumping, or knocking noises while driving, you should take immediate action rather than waiting for the problem to worsen.
What is the best lubricant for car squeak?
While there are various lubricants that claim to do the trick, one of the most effective in silencing those squeaks is spray-on lithium grease.
To locate the squeak, enlist the help of a friend to bounce the car up and down while you crawl underneath and apply the grease. However, if the noise is caused by a rubber suspension bushing, silicone spray may be a better option.
Do shock absorbers squeak?
If you’re hearing a squeak every time you hit a bump on the road, it might be your shock absorbers. But it could also indicate a problem with a ball joint or bushing that’s worn out.
What Repairs Can Fix the Squeaking Noise?
- Test drive your car in both directions
- Fix those jammed calipers
- Change that contaminated engine oil
- Replace those faulty brake pads
- Add more transmission fluid (if needed)
- Replace that damaged braking system
- Get those suspension system issues fixed
- Replace those worn-out wheel bearings
- Clear out any stones or sticks stuck in the brakes
- Replace any damaged parts in the transmission system
- Install new semi-metallic brakes pads (if needed)
- Lubricate the brake pins and/or anti-rattle brackets
- Regularly inspect and maintain your vehicle’s braking system.
Squeaking noises while driving can be very annoying and potentially dangerous, so it’s important to address them as soon as possible. While the cause is often debris or worn-out brakes, there are other potential culprits such as technician negligence, insufficient lubrication, worn-out wheel bearings, or a damaged transmission. If you suspect an issue with your car’s brakes, take it to a trusted mechanic for inspection and repair. Regular maintenance can help prevent these issues from occurring in the first place. Properly maintained brakes should provide you with quiet and reliable performance for many miles!
I’m Timothy Ballard, owner of a used car dealership in Springfield. I love just about everything automotive, but I have a special place in my heart for trucks. I’m an ASE Certified Master Technician, so I know my way around a car. In my spare time, I enjoy traveling with my family and hiking new trails.