What Is That?: Diagnosing That Screeching Sound Behind Your Car's Front Wheels

Screeching metal on metal sounds behind the front wheels of your car can be one of three possible problems, and none of them are good. Even if you think you know what is wrong, it is still worth the price and the peace of mind to have an auto service technician take a look (or listen). If possible, avoid driving your car to the auto repairs and services station because you might be driving a vehicle that could become very dangerous, very fast.

It Is the Brakes

Metal on metal screeching could be your brakes. (You will recognize that the problem is your brakes when the metal on metal sound is only heard when you apply your foot to the brake pedal.) The screeching noise means that your brake pads and shoes are completely gone and the brake calipers are scraping against the wheels to get your car to stop. Not only is this destructive to your car's wheels, it is very dangerous as the brake calipers could twist or break off and pop your tires, causing you to skid all over the road in an attempt to regain control. 

It Is the CV Joints

These are the joints that connect your wheels to the axle and drive train. The screeching sound you hear means that these joints have begun to deteriorate, are broken part of the way, and/or are scraping against the inside center parts of the wheels. If the CV joints break off completely, your car will clunk-clunk! to a halt, and the wheels will either get caught right underneath the tire wells of your car, or go spinning down the road behind you. It is a recipe for a collision, either from the sudden halt of your vehicle, or the car pile-up that will result behind you when other drivers swerve to avoid your escaped, free-wheeling tires.

It Is the Ball Joint, Drive Train and/or Axle

All three of these items--the ball joint, drive train and axle--are connected to form the mechanism that allows you to steer the wheels. When you hear a screeching noise while your car is in drive, (forward and backward), your ball joint, drive train or axle are about to bust right off and leave you in a very bad position. Wherever your car breaks down, you will not be able to move out of the way of oncoming traffic, nor will you be able to move your car to the side of the road. This is also the most expensive of the three possible problems when you hear the sharp grinding sound of metal on metal.

For professional auto repair services, contact a company such as Transmissions Northwest.