Is Your Front-Wheel Drive Vehicle's Steering Making Groaning, Squealing, Or Grinding Sounds? What Next?


Hearing a new noise coming from your car's steering or suspension system rarely inspires positive feelings. When this noise is accompanied by vibration or a strong pull to one side or another, you may worry that you're dealing with a serious mechanical problem that could manifest itself while you're in the middle of rush-hour traffic on the interstate or navigating a winding back road with no shoulder. What mechanical problems could be the root cause of your vehicle's new noises? Read on to learn more about why the diagnosis of these issues in front-wheel drive vehicles can be challenging, as well as what you can do to quickly and accurately diagnose your own front-wheel drive vehicle's steering or suspension issues. 

Why are these issues diagnosed differently for front-wheel drive (FWD) cars than other types of vehicles?

If you've already begun running your car's symptoms by mechanically-minded relatives or friends, you may be receiving a wide range of responses or potential problems to investigate. However, unless these mechanically-minded friends or relatives own FWD vehicles themselves or have experience in working on these cars, their advice may miss the mark. 

Because the majority of suspension and steering components that can take your car from a dead stop to traveling 60 or more miles per hour (and vice versa) are located above or around your front two wheels, diagnosing issues in this area can be a challenge. Rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive vehicles have a much more limited list of potential problems when noises or vibrations begin coming from only the front wheels, so your relative's story about needing only to replace brake rotors or replenish the power steering fluid may not be applicable to your situation.

What should you do to ensure a quick and accurate diagnosis of your FWD vehicle's issue? 

Your first step upon noticing any type of mechanical problem with your vehicle should be to document, document, document. When you've parked and gotten to a safe place, write down what you observed, answering questions like: 

  • What type of noise did you notice (e.g. clicking, grinding, squealing)? 
  • How long did it last?
  • Where were you when you noticed the noise?
  • What was your vehicle doing at the time? Was there a specific action that you feel may have triggered the noise (e.g. making a sharp turn or hitting a pothole)?
  • Did the noise affect your ability to operate the vehicle? 
  • Did the noise repeat itself during your drive?

The more detail you can provide to your mechanic (from a place such as AutoMedics) or dealership, the more quickly and inexpensively the diagnosis portion will proceed, giving you the information you need to decide whether to make repairs now or put this process off for later. Detailed descriptions are especially useful for vehicle problems that pop up only intermittently -- if the dealership is unable to replicate the noise or vibration you're experiencing, they'll be unlikely to give an accurate diagnosis, and you may be stuck paying for a "fishing expedition" while they take apart and examine various components to find the true culprit. 


7 June 2016

Learning About Auto Services

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