No one likes to hear complaints coming from their cars, like phantom squeaks, squeals and grinding. To hear a little or a lot can bring on full-fledged Stage Five Panic in the best of us. Perhaps one of the most alarming is the dreaded steering wheel squeal. Here are some explanations and reasons why you might hear this sound.
Power Steering Fluid
This may seem like the most obvious reason behind the dreaded steering wheel squeal, and a great place to start your investigation is the reservoir that houses power-steering fluid. Check not only for its presence and how much is there, but check the cleanliness of the fluid. Fluid that sits too long can get tacky, so if it’s filled with debris, you’re best bet is to empty out the old and replace with new power steering fluid.
Power Steering Pump
Your power steering pump can fail and should also be looked into if you’ve checked your power steering fluid and it’s full and clean. A service technician can help test out the power steering pump for efficacy.
Suspension and Steering Parts
You have many components holding your suspension and steering together. There is a system of checks and balances in place. If one piece goes, chances are, it will affect the others. There are seemingly endless seals, ball joints and tie-rods at play here who need to be well greased and all working together. Check to see if all are properly lubricated.
Other culprits that could be causing the dreaded squeal from your steering wheel include steering wheel housing rubbing against trim—the friction this can cause can often lead to high-pitched noises. It may sound farfetched but it is often tires that are making the most noise. If you are hearing the squeal only when your car is moving, and it happens on one type of road surface (usually striated or rough) more than others, you should never rule out tires.
If you’ve exhausted all possibilities and still can’t nail down the annoying noise, it’s best to schedule service with a licensed repair technician who can save you any more frustration by quickly assessing the problem and then fixing it. Music to your ears!