Car Making a Creaking Noise When Driving Slow [7 Causes]

It is annoying whenever you hear a creaking noise from your car while driving slow. This doesn’t only worry you as a driver; your passengers could start worrying too. In this article, let’s find out what happens when your car makes a creaking noise when driving slow.

There are different possible reasons why you hear a noise in your car when driving slow. One of the most common causes is worn-out brake pads. Replace them if they are no longer suitable to use. Ignoring this issue would mean putting yourself and your passenger’s safety at risk.

Keep on reading to learn more about the causes of a car making creaking noise when driving slow and how you can resolve this issue.

Car Making a Creaking Noise When Driving Slow

car making a creaking noise when driving slow

You’re probably trying to figure out why your car starts to make a sound while you are driving it; well, there could be multiple reasons behind it. Below are the possible causes of this issue and how you can fix each of them:

1. Bad Wheel Bearings

Pivotal Part of the Wheel Assembly

Before you check the other parts of your car or do anything, you need to check its wheel bearings first. Your car’s bearing is a pivotal part of its wheel assembly since this allows your wheels to perform freely without hitch and failure.

Absence of Grease Produces Friction

The bearings are a set of steel balls or tapers that a metal ring holds. On every wheel, you can find an inner and outer bearing. It is most likely that the bearings are the main reason your car’s wheel will produce a squeaking sound when rolling.

To survive the harsh conditions when driving, it needs grease. Grease is an essential part of your bearings, and you can find a decent amount of it inside your bearings. Your car will start to make a squeaking noise when you’re driving it if there is no grease in its bearings since it will cause friction and will possibly damage the bearings.

How to Check Whether the Creaking Noise Is Due to the Bearings

To check whether the bearings are indeed the reason behind the squeaking, follow the steps below:

  • Listen to the bearing closely to know if it is indeed making a noise.
  • Ask someone close to you or someone you know to drive your car at a low speed so that you will be able to listen to the sound your bearings will produce. From there, you will be able to distinguish if your bearings indeed have a problem. 
  • As an alternative, you can jack your car in the air. Check if the wheels move when you apply pressure from each of its sides. If they moved, then the bearings are problematic.

Replace As Soon as Possible

It is not advisable to use your car when it has bad bearing since it is very dangerous to you and the people with you in the car. So make sure that you will replace them as soon as possible. Bearings are not too expensive since you can find a set of them for around $100 or less.

2. Worn out or Warped Rotors

There is also a high chance that faulty brake rotors will make your car produce a squeaking noise while driving it. Your brake rotor’s condition and age significantly affect its performance.

Sign of a Worn-out or Warped Rotor

You can define an excellent brake rotor based on its smooth and good surface. When fine lines start to appear on the rotor, it means the rotor is starting to wear, and it means that you need to replace them. You might think you can fix warped rotors by changing pads, but doing so won’t make much difference.

Brake Issues

Aside from the noise, a worn-out rotor can also cause brake issues. Specifically, this is caused by the absence of a pad that covers the rotor. So if you see a rotor’s outer edge with lines on them, this is your sign that it needs immediate replacement. 

Warped rotors are also one of the problems aside from worn rotors. Car owners will encounter many issues, such as a car-producing squeaking noise when driving caused by the warped rotors. Change your rotors immediately if you have this issue. 

Causes

Driving through water often or hitting the brakes too hard are some of the main reasons your rotors will warp. Your car produces immense heat when you break hard. Then, as you drive into a puddle and the rotor is splashed with water, you will get a warped rotor. You may not see it, but that cold water will be the cause why your rotor will warp. A hot metal splashed with cold water will not give a good result.

Replace the Rotors

To fix this issue, you have to replace the rotors, and you can get new OEM rotors for around $300 to $600.

3. Bad Calipers

car making squeaking noises when driving slow

When you are driving slow and your car starts to produce a squeaking noise, bad calipers can be one of the reasons. There is a high chance it will be since, with the help of the master cylinder, its brake calipers will be able to work.

Creates a Vacuum Upon Pressing the Brake Pedal

The master cylinder will create a vacuum when you press the brake pedal. In and out of the calipers, the pistons will move with the help of the vacuum. Note that these pistons and engine pistons are entirely different. You will find the small cylindrical components or the pistons on the caliper when you press the gas pedal.

An Open Piston Can Cause Friction and Damage

After a long drive, pistons can get stuck. When the pistons are open, you will hear a squeaking noise. When the piston is open, the pad and rotor will cause friction all the time and will lead them to wear down.

Rebuild the Caliper Yourself or Go to an Experienced Mechanic

Rebuilding the caliper is one of the two ways to solve this problem. You can try to rebuild it yourself or go to an experienced mechanic. You can also purchase rebuild kits since there are many of them available in the market. Or you can opt-in to get a completely new caliper. Since the factory will be the one that will do everything, then it is better to consider the second option. Plus, new calipers will last longer compared to the rebuild kit. 

Whatever option you choose is entirely up to you as long as you can replace or rebuild the calipers. Your safety and comfort should always be the priority. With new brakes, you will feel reassurance and safety while driving. 

Again, if your car is making a creaking noise when driving slow – what causes this issue? The most common cause of a car making a squeaking noise when driving slow is worn brake pads. The brake pads are vital in making your car stop.

4. Bad Brake Pads

Play a Huge Role in Braking

Brake pads are also one of the most common reasons your car will start to make a squeaking noise when driving it slow. When worn out, it can cause your car to malfunction.

These pads play a huge role in your car’s braking. Depending on the brake pad’s components, they can produce unique sounds. Note that quality pads are silent and would not produce any noise.

Bad Quality Pads Worsen Braking Distance

You will easily determine that you have an issue with your car when it starts producing a squeaking noise when you’re driving it slow, even if you just recently replaced its pads. Bad quality pads will worsen your braking distance. In turn, this can get you into accidents.

Metal Plates Rubbing with Each Other

Worn brake pads cause the plate to rub with the rotor, producing a creaking noise. Since the metal is rubbing with another metal, this can be very dangerous. You have to replace the rotors as well if that is the case.

Replacement Cost

There is a high chance you would be paying more than $600 for both sides– which is pretty expensive. It would be best to replace your pads regularly to avoid this situation. 

My memory is not good sometimes, which will always lead me to forget to replace my pads. I learned my lesson when these bad pads damaged my rotors, and I had to replace a few sets of them. So if you see that there is no material on the pads, that is your signal that you should change your pads.

Regularly Change Pads

Since changing your pads regularly would make your car brake better and prevent any stopping issues, you can ensure safety while driving. And on the other side, you won’t hear it squeak when driving it slow.

Can I Drive with Grinding Brakes?

5. Loose Engine Belt

Cause of a Loose Belt Noise

A loose accessory belt is one of the possibilities why your car will make a squeaking sound when you’re driving it slow. Loose belt noise is produced when you start your car and accelerate right away or drive it below 20 mph. 

Also, after many miles of travel, crankshaft pulleys can make the belt start to squeak since it will begin to wobble and lose its rotating ability.

It’s a guarantee that the belt will not squeak again after you replace the pulley and the belt with a new one. 

6. Timing Chain

Causes Bent Valves

The timing chains are one possible cause of the noise you hear when you drive slow. When the chain jumps from its position, there’s a chance of a bent valve. Bent valves will make the engine beyond repair since they will scrap your engine. Sometimes, it is better to get a good condition used engine since the repairs would be costly. 

Cost

Replacing the chain will cost you around $1,000. This cost includes labor costs. A lot of chain-driven car owners consider this a big problem.

Chain belts don’t easily break compared to timing belts, and that’s the good thing about driving one. It doesn’t happen on every engine, even if the chain can jump since engines have built-in protection to prevent that from happening. 

It would be best to list this problem even if it sounds like a rattle rather than a squeak since it will confuse other people. So it would be better to be sure. When driving slow, these sounds with the chain can also happen.

7. Tensioner Pulley

Applies Pressure to the Belt

One component you also need to take a look at is the tensioner. Tensioner pulleys apply pressure to the belt, and they are smaller. There is a high chance you will be left with no power to your system, and it is going to jump if there is no pressure applied. That is why the pressure on the belt is considered important.

Cost

Ratchets can make these pulleys tighten. You need to replace them, though, if it’s a worst-case scenario. It is not costly, and you can get one for less than $30—however, the labor costs around $100.

It’s a guarantee that your car will work fine, and you will not be left without your accessories as long as you will work on your car. The air conditioning, water pump, and alternator are what the belt is controlling. All the essential parts your car needs to keep on performing well.

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Conclusion – Car Making a Creaking Noise When Driving Slow

The most common cause of your car making creaking noise when driving slow is worn-out brake pads. Don’t wait until they’re worn out, or don’t use them for a long time. You have to replace them immediately once they start to wear out. 

Besides knowing how to drive, make sure that you know the functions of your car’s parts. Paying attention to the sound and learning to identify the source is a must for drivers like you. You can immediately fix the issues yourself if you know what causes them. But it doesn’t hurt to consult a skilled technician if you want to ensure that your car is fixed immediately and appropriately.

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