Here are some of the most common explanations for these unwanted sounds and what you can do to stop them:
1. Underinflated Tires
Underinflated tires are probably the most common cause of squeals, usually on sharp turns or when your car is taking corners. Though there are usually other warning signs when your tires need more air, this is certainly one of the more obvious ones that motivates you to get to the gas station and fill up on air. Underinflated tires perform poorly in inclement weather and lead to downgrades in traction for your tires, 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.
2. Uneven Tread Wear
Squealing and squeaking can also be a sign of worn down or uneven tread wear. Over time and with high usage, tire tread starts to break down. Tread blocks will become dull or peel off of the surface of your tire, resulting in uneven tread patterns and depths. Tire tread is what gives your vehicle the gripping strength as it comes into contact with the road, so when it starts to wear out, braking and turning becomes more difficult and abrupt, which is when you will start to hear your tires squeal. You might want to look into getting your tires rotated and balanced regularly at your local Pep Boys to get the maximum tread life out of your tires.
3. Loose Wheels
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 these as often as an underinflated tire or uneven tread wear, but 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 that envelops it. This fix is usually pretty simple, but your safest bet is to take it to your mechanic to have the lugs tightened and the wheels checked for any structural damage that could cause issues somewhere down the road.
Of course, there is always a possibility that the squeals you hear are coming from your car rather than your tires. 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 break noise page to determine the issue you may be having with your brakes.
5. Something Else?
Any number of structural problems to the interior or exterior of the car can cause similarly off-putting sounds. You should always err on the side of caution and get these noises checked out by a trusted car expert before they turn into more serious problems for you and your car. Schedule an appointment at a Pep Boys Auto Shop near you to have a certified technician look at your car.
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