Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Tires make car squeak?

Hi, I have recently replaced a set of new tires (Michelin X-Radial DT) on my Ford Focus 2003. Immediately, I could feel a slight sound like a rub that causes a dull squeak as if I am carrying a load in the car when I am turning and at different times when the road surface is undulating. At other times the car runs very smoothly. My sense is that these set of tires are a tad larger than the BFGoodrich I used to have for the car.

I am okay with it if this is not going to hurt the car in the long run. But if it is then please advice me what I should do.

Another inconvenience I am having is a squeaking sound that comes from the right rear wheel when I brake (sometimes). I was told that it’s the brake dusts since the brakes are o.k. How can I get rid of that squeak when braking?

Eagerly awaiting your expert comments and advice…

Thanking you in advance and a very happy 2012 to all.


First, you need to check the inflation pressure of those tires. When the tires are cold (before driving more than a couple of miles) check the pressure, using a good-quality dial-type tire pressure gauge. Then, compare your readings to the pressures listed on the label affixed to the driver’s door jamb. If your tire pressure is lower than what is posted on the door jamb label, or if it is significantly higher, that could lead to squeeking noises from the tires as you make a turn.

Then, note the tire size imprinted in the tire’s sidewalls, and compare that to the tire size listed on that same driver’s door jamb label. If the size is not the same, you might want to have a conversation with the tire salesman over that situation. If the size is the same, then your suspicions–that the new tires are “a tad larger”–are unfounded. While dimensions can vary a bit from one brand to another, if the tire is of the same numerical size as the original equipment tires (as noted on that label), then they are not too large for the car.

As to the brake noise, if you have drum brakes (rather than disc brakes) on the rear, then–yes–it is possible that there is a build-up of brake dust. Why the shop told you that the brakes “are ok”, and that they had brake dust, but that they didn’t clean the brakes is a mystery to me.

I would suggest getting a second opinion, and that opinion should be based on an inspection of the brakes on all 4 wheels. Even though you think that the noise is coming from the right rear, it could actually be coming from the brake on a different wheel. Get those brakes inspected (and possibly cleaned) by a different shop.

Thanks VDCdriver for your helpful input. The label on the door jamb says Tires: P195/60R15S.
The tires on the car says: P195/60R15(87T). Looks like there is a difference but I don’t know if it matters. My main concern is whether the car will be affected in any way by this difference in the long run. What do you think?


KL–The tires are of the same size, so no worries on that account.

The letter “T” on the tires indicates that they are rated for safe handling at a top speed of 118 mph, as opposed to the original “S” specification listed on the door jamb, which would be good “only” up to 112 mph. Since I am assuming that you are too much of a sane person to drive at anywhere near either of those speeds, the speed rating is actually irrelevant. But, at least you know that the tire shop didn’t downgrade you on the speed rating of the tires.

What would concern me much more would be the load rating of the tires. While the new tires are probably safe in terms of their load capacity, I would suggest re-checking both the door jamb label and the Owner’s Manual to determine what the load rating of the original tires might have been. The load rating on your new tires is “87”. As long as this is the same, or higher, than the load rating number on your old tires, then you have nothing to worry about.

By the way–what did you find when you checked your tire pressure?

Raising a vehicle, especially when equipped with McPherson strut suspension, will unload the worn load carrying thrust surfaces of the suspension and when the car is lowered the surfaces that had been mated from thousands of miles of wear will be re-loaded to un-mated surfaces. Open the hood and lay your hand on the strut mounting plate while someone turns the wheel left to right. If you feel friction the upper mount is the problem.

VDCdriver-Tire pressure at 32 all 4 tires (inflated with nitrogen), just got them end of Oct.,2011. Car label for max. load is 827 lbs and tire max. load is 1190 lbs. Regarding the speed rating, nice to know I have been upgraded. I might give it a run on the European highways but not here since I rather get to my destination than not at all.

Rod Knox… I will need to send the car back to the tire place to have that done (will print your comments and bring it along)

Thanks for all your helpful suggestions.
In the meantime if I can do something…


Don’t be surprised if the tire place isn’t very helpful. This doesn’t sound like a tire problem - it sounds like a suspension problem. This probably occurred when the car was lifted to put the tires on - and may be the result of the spring settling into a different position. This is pretty common for older cars - especially in areas where salt is used on the roads.

Sounds like there could be more to it than expected. Glad for your input. If so, how can I find out if it is a suspension problem and what is to be done and who can fix it without running in circles…Gosh, didn’t know that putting on a new set of tires would create this “song & dance”. Glad for you guys out there helping out with ideas. Thanks CapriRacer.

Can you make it squeak by pushing down on the front of the car, making it bounce?

p.s. - free nitrogen is fine, just don’t pay extra for it.

“p.s. - free nitrogen is fine, just don’t pay extra for it.”

Yes, in the future, just put air in your tires. Pure nitrogen is not required. Use whatever costs least.

Are hub caps involved??

Don’t know, will look into that too…

Problem resolved. It was the suspension. Had to replace the stabilizer bar control link. Thanks for all your input.
Could this problem have been caused by the 4 wheel alignment work done by another mechanic soon after the new tires were installed which I forgot to mention when I first posted the question?

Nope. It’s just age. The links have what are essentially nonservicable ball joints at each end, and they can get squeaky over time. Attached is a drawing that shows what the stab bar links look like, just as an FYI.

That’s impressive…material for a class.

A picture is worth 1000 words. Maybe more.

Ahem, check the wheel bolts. A very low probability, but should be checked to make sure they (over) tightened them as usual.

Thanks. Will do.

If they only replaced the link on one side don’t be surprised if you hear the noise soon from the other side. I had to replace my other side 6 months later.

So far so good…I presumed they did both sides. Thanks for tip, will be listening for any noise starting up. Hope not.