How to Assess Vehicle Squeaks, Rattles, and Vibrations - dummies

How to Assess Vehicle Squeaks, Rattles, and Vibrations

By Deanna Sclar

If your vehicle makes mysterious squeaks, rattles, or vibrations, troubleshoot the problem yourself first before taking it to an auto shop. You might save some money by checking and tightening the following items before seeking professional help:

  • Loose screws and bolts: Check both inside the vehicle and under the hood.

  • Rearview and side mirrors

  • Dashboard knobs and trim

  • Sound-system speaker grills

  • Window and door cranks and locks

  • Ashtray and other storage compartments: Are they empty? Do the lids fit snugly?

  • Glove box: Is the door shut tight? Is anything in the glove box rattling around?

  • Wheel covers or hubcaps: Remove them and check inside for pebbles.

  • Outside trim

  • Trunk: Is something you’ve stashed in there moving around?

If none of these is the culprit, or if the noise persists, have a repair facility find the cause. Often, something inside the vehicle vibrates sympathetically because another part of the vehicle is running roughly.

If your car squeaks like an old taxi, especially when you drive it on a bumpy road, it may just need lubrication. However, the problem may be worn shock absorbers or struts, suspension ball joints, or broken stabilizer links.

You may get used to the squeaks and groans, but because they’re caused by parts rubbing together or moving without the proper lubrication, they indicate wear that can damage your vehicle. Obviously, action is required.