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Many parts can squeak when you’re driving. Usually, they are just annoying and pose no threat or concern, but not always.

Let’s investigate the causes in this article. The squeaking noise from the car when the brake pedal isn’t applied can be due to multiple reasons.

Usually, the brake wear indicator on the brake pad rubbing against the rotor when the pads are worn causes the squeaking noise. Change your brake pads, and the noise will stop.

We will discuss every other cause of the squeaking noise one by one and explore whether they are dangerous and need you to take action.

Let’s start with the most common reasons first. Even though you haven’t got your foot on the brake pedal, the brakes can still be the most common cause.

Two brake-related issues that can cause squeaky noises when the pedal isn’t applied are the brake wear indicator and stuck calipers. 

Brake Wear Indicator 

One of the main reasons for a constant squeaky sound, even if the brakes are not applied, is the brake wear indicator. When the pad level drops too low, a small metallic protrusion called the brake wear indicator rubs against the rotor. This causes a squeaky or grating sound.  

Break wear indicator causes a squeak even when brakes aren't pressed
Brake Wear Indicator Rubbing Against The Rotor Will Cause Squeaking Even When The Brakes Aren’t Applied

Modern cars have a sensor that tells the ECU when the brakes are worn out and need to be replaced. A light is then illuminated on the dashboard.

When that happens, a small metallic piece rubs against the rotor, which causes an irritating squeaky sound. This is a sign to get your brakes replaced.

The main indicator to diagnose this problem, you would hear a squeaky sound while driving, but it becomes higher-pitched when the brake pedal is pressed. 

Stuck Caliper

The main component of a car’s braking system is a caliper. A caliper houses the brake pads and the related brake assembly. If your caliper gets stuck, the car is driven with brakes applied constantly. 

This causes a very annoying sound. Another symptom is that you may experience the vehicle pulling on one side. If you keep driving, the rotors get heated due to constant rubbing and, in extreme situations, cause a fire.

Lack of use and rust are the most common cause of the brake caliper seizing. 

Rusted calipers can cause a squeaking noise
Severe Rusted Caliper

Brakes can seize if a car is left unused for months, particularly if it is kept outdoors and in wet conditions.  

Brake rotors can corrode and become stuck to the pads, or a caliper piston or slider pin might become trapped for similar reasons.

Brakes are subjected to a wide temperature range, are constantly exposed to the weather, and are seldom serviced or examined between the pad and rotor changes. As a result, corrosion can accumulate in these places and cause the caliper to stick.

Apart from the braking system, other causes are poor suspension, loose belts, poor lubrication of steering components, and bad wheel bearings.

Uneven Tire Tread Wear

This is often overlooked. It’s a simple check and should be done once you move on to other checks. 

The sound of your tires is influenced by the tread pattern on each of them. Sometimes it’s easy to spot uneven wear, but you may need a tire gauge to be sure on newer tires.

As the tire tread wears down, the tires create various sounds that indicate deterioration. One tire may make a repetitive squeaking noise.  

 A new tire will fix the squeak but not the underlying cause, which is likely to be suspension or alignment issues.

worn tires can make a squeaking noise
Uneven tire tread can cause squeaking when cornering

Inflation of Tires

People often ignore to check if all tires carry the same air pressure recommended by the manufacturer. If one or more tires have a different pressure than others, the balance of the car is disturbed, and the stress is more on one or more tires, causing its wear and tear. 

This reduces a tire’s life and produces squealing sounds, especially when turning and cornering. Regularly get your tires inflated at the recommended pressure to ensure your and your car’s safety and prolong your tires’ lifespan.

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Bad Alignment/Suspension

This is more likely if you have been involved in an accident or hit a pothole. Another cause is a lack of lubrication caused by a leak of fluid from a joint – such as a CV joint or U joint.

Worn CV joints can make a squeaking noise
Leaking CV Joint and Broken Boot

Struts and shocks wear over time, significantly changing the car’s alignment. Whatever the cause, the car will produce noises if the suspension is disrupted or lubrication has leaked away.

When you accelerate or turn, the squeak often gets louder. If your ride is also rough on smooth roads,  you get steering wheel wobble, and the vehicle pull to the right or left are all signs of improper alignment. 

Loose Belts

Another cause of the squeaky noise from your car is the result of loose or worn-out belts.

There are mainly two types of belts in the car. We will concentrate on the serpentine belt. The timing belt or chain doesn’t make a squeaking noise- more of a slapping noise and is associated with many other engine problems, such as rough idle and stalling.

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The serpentine belt, also known as the drive belt, is one single belt that connects multiple components of the engine, such as the steering, the crankshaft, the water pump—the AC fans, the alternator, etc. 

It has an average lifespan of no more than 100,000 miles. After that, it loosens due to wearing. 

The noise becomes loud when you suddenly accelerate, decelerate your vehicle, or turn on the air conditioner. 

Because the acceleration or turning on the air conditioner puts more stress on the belts, and as a result, we hear a louder squeak. The belt is most likely to squeak when you start the car or in wet conditions where moisture can make it slip easier.

Steering System

Sometimes, the steering system is also a cause of a squeaky noise from your car. This may be caused when the level of steering fluid drops. 

Similarly, another cause may be the parts, like ball joint seals, which dry out due to lack of lubrication and produce a squeaky sound.

So, if you hear squeaking while turning, your steering probably needs to be replaced, or the steering parts need lubrication. These parts can be difficult to check – especially if you are not happy getting under your car or the idler arm has been greased and is leaking.

Why Does The Squeaking Noise Stop When Braking?

Depending on the brake part that is making the squeak when not braking influences what happens to the squeak when you brake.

  • A wear indicator will make the same noise whether the brake is applied or not.
  • A stuck caliper usually kisses the rotor and squeaks when the brake isn’t applied. However, it’ll grip more tightly under more force, and the squeak will go away until the brake pedal is released.

In Conclusion

Old Brake Pads

You need to replace your brake pads if they squeak while driving, but your brakes are not applied. The brake wear monitor, a metal clasp that clamps to the brake pads, is rubbing against the rotor.

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