Step by step guide on how to troubleshoot and repair automotive chirping noises.
This article pertains to all non-electric vehicles.
Difficulty Scale: 4 of 10
Tool and Supplies Needed
- Socket set
- Wrench set
- Protective gloves and eyewear
- Appropriate replacement parts
Begin with the vehicle on level ground, engine "OFF" with the parking brake on,
while the transmission is in park.
- Many brake pads are equipped with a "screamer"
which indicates the brake pad has worn down below the minimum brake material thickness.
This noise indicator produces a chirping noise, either as the brakes are applied
or while the brakes are in idle position (not being used). A chirping noise is produced
as the wear sensor contacts the brake rotor while rotating. If this condition exists
the noise will change as the brakes are depressed. Visit -
- A serpentine belt is used to
supply engine power throughout the engine accessories. When the belt wears it can
produce a chirping sound while the engine is running. The chipping will follow the
engine RPM (engine speed). Inspect the belt for glazing, which is a shinning condition
inside the belt grooves. Visit -
- A bearing is designed to provide rolling
support to a shaft which is used in such things as an alternator, starter, water
pump, power steering pump, air conditioner and air pump. If a chirping noise is
produced after a belt replacement, remove the belt and rotate each accessory to
make sure there is no grinding or rough spots in the accessory idler bearing operation.
- An axle bearing is designed to support
the weight of the vehicle by allowing the wheels to rotate. These bearings are manufactured
with high grade steel that resists wear under extreme conditions. When an axle bearing
fails it allows metal to contact metal under pressure with a linear motion creating
a chirping noise.
- A drive shaft U joint is designed to act
as a rotating junction that can be flexible while still transferring energy from
the engine to the rear differential. Visit -
Universal joint explanation
. On some universal
joints a zirk fitting is used for lubrication on the joint while others are manufactured
with a proper amount of grease and do not need service. If a universal joint fails
it can make a chirping noise that follows the speed of the car which is more noticeable
at slow speeds, and fades at higher speeds.. Visit -
Universal joint replacement
- Vehicles equipped with a standard transmission
utilize a clutch to act as a controllable coupler. When a clutch wears the throwout
or pilot bearing can fail causing a chirping noise. Visit -
When a chirping noise is detected locate the area of the car its being generated
from. If the noise is being generated while the car is driven, have a helper ride
along in the rear seat to give a new perspective on the origin of the chirping noise.
A chirping noises can be generated by many things from a brake pad to a CAS (cam
angle sensor). It is common for a chirping noise to come and go depending on car
conditions such as hot or cold weather.
- Always investigate chirping noises before they lead to more serious repairs.
Article first published 2015-09-03