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Car Squeaking – What Is Causing This Noise In Your Vehicle? 

Car Squeaking

The last thing you want to hear as a driver is an unwanted noise that indicates some type of internal problem in your car. Hearing clunks, bangs, buzzing, and car squeaking noises can alter the drive and passengers to issues within the electrical, engine, transmission, fuel, or other type of system. Unfortunately, sometimes these problems lead to expensive repairs and replacements.

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By diagnosing the car squeaking noises before they worsen over time, you can help keep repair costs as low as possible. Keeping an eye and ear out for anything out of the ordinary while operating your vehicle can ensure any internal issue does not go on for too long without being fixed. 


Let’s see the most common causes of the car squeaking noises, the total repair prices, and how you can fix them as quickly as possible!

Four Main Car Squeaking Causes

We will go over the four main causes of your car squeaking while driving. Make sure you keep an eye on your alternator function, pulley bearings, drive belt longevity, and belt tensioners. 

  • Alternator Whine

The alternator is a generator of electrical power within your car. It is a main component of your vehicle’s electrical and charging system. All cars with an internal combustion engine have an alternator. 


When your engine is running in your car, the alternator is in charge of giving the battery power. The alternator is typically a maintenance-free generator of electric power. However,if you hear car squeaking noises, you might have to replace or rebuild the alternator sooner than you think, despite the alternator typically lasting 10-15 years.

Signs of a Faulty Alternator

Warning Light – The most common symptom is the battery-shaped warning light on your dashboard. If this light doesn’t come on, the “CHARGE” icon could also come on while you're driving. This warning light typically comes on when you turn the ignition, but it should turn off as soon as the engine is started.


If the light stays on, it is a clear sign the alternator is causing the car squeaking noise. You should choose a mechanic to do some testing on the alternator and any electrical reasons for the light coming on while your engine is running. 


Headlights Dim – The second symptom of a damaged alternator is the dash lights and headlights dim while your car is idling, but turn brighter while the engine is turned on. In addition, if there are poor connections with your battery terminals or a loose drive belt, that could cause the car squeaking noise. A whining and buzzing noise from the alternator is another symptom of alternator trouble.


Failed Plates – There are three rotating plates that cover the copper wires and create the area for the alternator to produce power. If these plates fail, the alternator can weaken. If the plates fail, the power will drop the output levels drastically. This wear and tear on the electrical system, causing the car squeaking noise and the alternator to fail completely. 


Slow Engine Cranks – When the alternator is damaged and not working correctly, the car’s engine will crank very slowly. In order to figure out if this is the problem, you need to check out the ignition system before making a decision the alternator is at fault. The inability to crank might also be partnered with car squeaking, indicating a broken drive belt. 


Alternator Voltage Leak – The alternator plays a huge part in converting currents from the alternator into a direct current. Over time, the diodes within the alternator can run out. Fixing the diodes can ensure that your alternator will start charging again and prevent car squeaking. 

Check Your Alternator for Car Squeaking

If you notice the signs and symptoms of a faulty alternator and think it is the culprit of the car squeaking noises, you need to perform some tests to see if your suspicions are right. 

  • Check the Alternator Gauge

If you have a voltage gauge, it will show the alternator output for you, and it will be easy to read and see the levels. Power the engine at least 2,000 RPMs for testing purposes. If the voltmeter is high when the engine is running, you can assume the alternator is not at fault for the car squeaking noises.

  • Listen to the Alternator

While the engine is running, listen to the alternator. If there is a problem with the bearings, you could hear a car squeaking sound coming from the front of the car. The car squeaking sound will become louder when you have more electrical items on at the same time, such as the radio and air conditioning running simultaneously at a high power. 

  • Turn on the Radio

After you turn the radio on, rev the engine to a higher power. Tune your radio to a low number on the AM frequency band with no music playing. If the radio continues to whine and makes a car squeaking noise, the alternator could be the issue.

  • Find an Auto Store or CashCarsBuyer

To determine if your alternator really is the issue, you should try to find an auto parts store that can test your alternator. Dismount your alternator and bring it into the store for testing. If you find the car is beyond repair and are tired of the car squeaking, you can use CashCarsBuyer to sell your car for cash – fast! 

2. Worn Drive Belt

The serpentine belt, also known as the drive belt, is the belt on a car engine that works in tandem with the car idler, tensioner, and idler pulleys inside of the accessory drive belt system helping to power the car. This serpentine belt provides the necessary power for the air conditioning, alternator, power steering, and the system water pump.


If you open the hood in a modern car on the market with either a gasoline or diesel engine, you will notice at least one serpentine belt in your car. There can also be cars with two or three belts, while electric cars do not have any serpentine belts. The function of the serpentine belt is to drive accessories like the alternator, and differs from the timing belt. 


The timing belt runs the camshaft and is hidden under protective covers. So, what happens if the serpentine belt breaks or you hear car squeaking noises? 

Faulty Driving Belt Symptoms

  • Trouble Starting Your Car – You might start to find issues in your car that can creep up during the vehicle’s standard performance. A failed timing belt will mean that the car will not start correctly or come to a full stop. If you are having trouble starting and stopping your vehicle, this can indicate the driving belt is the cause of the car squeaking.
  • Car Squeaking Noises – A common symptom of a broken timing belt is car squeaking noises coming from the area of the timing belt covering the engine. Squeaking noises is a sure sign that the belt has become damaged over time or has been placed under stress for prolonged use. In this case, a replacement could be necessary to prevent the car squeaking noises from worsening. 
  • High Engine Idling – In addition, another sign that your timing belt is the cause of the car squeaking is that your engine will all of a sudden start to sound as though it is running at a much faster rate than normal.

Driving Belt Replacement cost

Luckily for car owners, unlike other engine problems, it is very inexpensive in the grand scheme of car repairs to replace a driving belt, whether it is completely broken or just loose. 

  • The driving belt replacement cost is usually between $100 and $200 in most cases, with the belt and part itself costing between $28 and $80, while the labor costs will be between $75 and $120 total. 
  • The ease of accessing the driving belt will determine how much the labor costs are. Some modern vehicles have a more easily accessible driving belt, while other older cars have difficulty finding a driving belt and could cause the labor costs to increase to around 2 hours of work.

3. Worn Pulley Bearings

The idler pulley is the part of your system that drives the belt of a vehicle. It directly correlates with the drive belt, serpentine belt, and your car’s engine, helping to regulate the crankshaft and engine accessories.


Idler pulleys are the engine pulleys that guide the tension in the belts. These drive belts control accessories like the alternator, power steering pump, and the AC Compressor, helping to make a smooth rotating point for the engine belts so that power and energy can be easily transferred. However, over time these belts and pulleys can wear out, leading to a car squeaking noise and other obvious symptoms.

Damaged Pulley Bearing Symptoms

  • Car Squealing – A common symptom of an issue with the idler pulley that can lead to a replacement is a car squealing noise from the engine belts. If the surface wears down and becomes damaged due to the pulley bind’s consistent use, it can cause the engine to squeal. In some instances where the pulley has become significantly worn, it can cause the belt to squeal when you first turn on the car. 
  • Damaged Bearing – Another symptom that is more visible with drivers is that a damaged bearing or pulley can cause a pulley breakdown, leading to cracking, holes forming, and seizing. This can lead to the belt to rotate improperly and cause a torn serpentine belt or a car squealing noise. 

Causes of the Pulley Bearing Car Squealing Noise

If you find the pulley bearing is causing the car squealing noise, we need to know why this is happening. 


Over time, regardless of how many pulleys your vehicle uses, an idler pulley will eventually become worn out and run down and prevent the timing belts’ proper functioning. You can notice this happening by obvious signs and symptoms in your car. Keeping an eye and ear out for these car squealing noises, sounds, feelings, and occurrences in your vehicle can keep your car running safely.

  • Damaged Pulley – Just like any other parts of your vehicle, an idler pulley can wear down and become damaged over time. The constant spinning with the drive belt and serpentine belt can cause increased friction, overheating, and excess wear after idler pulleys repeatedly while driving. 
  • Pulley Slippage – Once the worn-out pulley succumbs to excess damage, you will begin to notice the idler pulley slipping. This slipping causes the pulley to bind and rub against the engine belt and the serpentine drive belt. This will cause car squeaking noises that become louder until the idler pulley is replaced.

Pulley Bearing Replacement Cost

Looking at the average price of the idler pulley replacement, certain factors can affect how much you might pay for this fix – like where you get the procedure and service done. You can expect to pay between $163 and $367 for an average pulley bearing replacement cost. 

4. Faulty Belt Tensioners

One of the main causes of the faulty belt tensioners causing the car squeaking noise is misalignment of the belt, the pulleys, and the timing belt teeth. 

  • MisalignmentMisalignment is one of the main causes of the timing belt drive failure and can cause a broken timing belt. Excessive or uneven tooth wear on the timing belt, the belt tracking and tensile failure, and tensile damage can all be attributed to misalignment of the timing belt. 
    • The two main types of timing belt misalignment are parallel, which means the river and the driven shafts are parallel, but the drive and the timing belt pulleys on the shafts are in different areas. 
    • The second type is angular misalignment, meaning that the driver and driven shafts are not parallel in alignment. This misalignment of the timing belt can cause improper tension, tracking problems, and car squealing noises. 
  • Under-Tensioned Belt – An under tensioned timing belt in your car can also be prone to ratcheting, meaning the teeth are skipping on the belt, and can be a result of a lack of tension in the belt itself. Under tensioning in the timing belt can cause excessive or uneven wear on the teeth can cause excessive drive noise. 
    • To fix this issue and prevent the car squeaking, you need to use a tension gauge to set the proper tension on the timing belt. 

Timing Belt Replacement Cost

Replacing a broken timing belt for preventative reasons usually runs between $500 and $900 on average. However, it depends if there are other problems along with the broken timing belt, like if your broken timing belt has destroyed your engine. If it has harmed other parts, it can cost up to $2,000 or more if there is extra damage to the valves, pistons, or water pump. 

The Bottom Line

By diagnosing the car squeaking noises before they worsen over time, you can help keep repair costs as low as possible. Keeping an eye and ear out for anything out of the ordinary while operating your vehicle can ensure any internal issue does not go on for too long without being fixed. 

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