Creaking noise when driving slowly may be an underlying sign of more problematic issues with your car. The most common causes include rusty parking brake shoes, bad wheel bearings, a sticky caliper or a faulty tensioner pulley.
Consequently, it should be treated with urgency and fixed before it aggravates.
The first step is to find where the sound is coming from in the car. It will give you an idea of the cause and possible solutions.
So when driving, roll down the windows and try to locate where the creaking noise is coming from.
Possible cause of creaking sound when driving slow
Keep reading to know why your car makes creaking noise while driving slowly, symptoms, possible solutions, and repair costs.
01. Rusty Parking brake shoes
A rusty parking brake shoe may be responsible for the creaking sound you hear from your car when driving slowly. Usually, parking brake shoes are found extended against the brake set and help to hold the vehicle in a sitting position. They are extended curved blocks with frictional materials.
Rusty parking brake is caused by exposure to elements such as rain, snow, and dew. The best way to prevent this rust is to park your vehicle indoors or in a garage to reduce its exposure to moisture.
If you discover that your vehicle’s parking brake doesn’t function well or doesn’t engage and you hear a creaking sound, then this may be a sign of an impending parking brake failure.
The first step of diagnosis is to take your vehicle for a brake inspection at an automotive center before any major brake failure or damage. It is best to replace the rusty parking brake with a new one to fix the creaking noise you hear in your car.
A Parking Brake Shoe set costs between $125 and $150. Labor costs are estimated at around $168 to $210. It is advised to budget between $335 and $360 to replace parking brake shoes.
Related content: Can I Drive with Rusted Rotors?
02. Bad Wheel Bearings
A wheel bearing is one of the first places you look if you hear a creaking sound when driving slowly in your car.
The wheel bearing is a ball bearing in a housing that allows the wheel to rotate smoothly. This housing is greased, which helps lubricate the steel ball and prevent friction and damage from the harsh conditions of movements.
Lack of grease will cause friction and the creaking noise you hear from your vehicle.
Typically, a wheel bearing will last between 80,0000 and 100,000 miles, depending on the material used.
Besides the car’s creaking noise, you may also notice excessive movement or looseness in your vehicle’s steering wheel, excessive vibration in the steering wheel, and abs error codes on your car dashboard.
All wheels have two bearings- inner and outer bearings. It costs anywhere from $48 to $300 to buy a wheel bearing. Technicians will take about an hour to replace the bearings. Car owners should budget between $100 and $800 to replace a bad wheel bearing.
Related content: Why does my car make a clicking noise when braking?
03. Sticky caliper
A sticky caliper could cause your vehicle to make creaking sounds when driving slowly.
The brake caliper is responsible for slowing the car wheels by causing friction with the brake motor. It houses the pistons and brake pad of your car.
A sticky caliper can cause the car to pull towards one side of the road. The symptoms are usually more severe than a simple car alignment issue. It happens when you are driving or slowing down.
Over time, the caliper will grow bad from wear and tear under normal driving conditions. So, it is essential to take your brake system for inspection frequently.
Other symptoms of a sticky caliper include:
- The abs warning light.
- Fluid leak.
- The brake pedal is soft.
- The brake pedal needs excessive pumping to work.
Replacing the bad caliper is the best option for fixing the sticky caliper. However, other options could include lubricating the parking brake system. It is only a temporary fix, and the caliper will still seize in the future.
The cost of replacing the brake caliper will vary depending on the car’s brand and model. Car owners can budget between $50 to $110 for front calipers and $75 to $125 for rear calipers.
04. Bad tensioner pulley
A tensioner pulley is responsible for proving a precise tension in the belt drive.
It means that the tensioner pulley holds the wrap angle on the belt for better performance.
The tension pulley mounted on the belt tensioner allows for a switch in the rotational direction of the belt. In addition, the pulley helps in the stretching of the belt.
Furthermore, the way the tensioner pulley works and its calculated and precise connection with the belt tensioner allows the belt to be correctly placed on the rotor. Its precision helps to reduce wear and tear and creaking sound from the car.
A bad tensioner means there is no precision between the belt and pulley, resulting in the creaking noise when driving slowly.
Other symptoms to look for that tell you your vehicle has a bad tensioner pulley include a loose belt, grinding, screeching sound, worn-out belt, and engine overheating from the car.
A bad tensioner pulley may not show signs until the later stage of its decline, so it is essential to inspect the tensioner pulley and belt to discover the fault.
The best solution to a bad tensioner pulley is to replace it with a new one. A new tensioner pulley will cost between $80 and $250 depending on the car’s quality, make and model.
Labour should take about one to two hours to fix and would typically charge $40 to $160.
Car owners can budget between $120 and $410 to replace their bad tensioner pulley.
Creaking noise when driving slow can be very distracting to a car owner. It is never a good sign and should be treated with all urgency to prevent costly damages to the vehicle.
Physical vehicle inspection can help car owners easily identify the cause and affected components of the car causing the noise.
Always check for rusty parking brake shoes, bad wheel bearing, sticky caliper, and bad tensioner pulley, as they are the major causes of the creaking sound you hear.
A better-maintained car will live a longer lifespan!