Car Squeals When It’s Cold Outside? Why Your Power Steering Is Making Noise in the Cold

Truck driving during winter in the cold

Whines, squeaks, and squeals from your power steering system are common problems in cold weather.  If your car squeals when its cold outside, there may be problems with the power steering. Fortunately, these problems are usually pretty easy to fix. This post reviews why your power steering may be whining or squealing in the cold and how to fix it.

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Signs the Power Steering Is Causing Car or Truck Squeals in the Cold

Increased Whines, Squeaks, or Squeals When Turning

If there is a problem with your power steering, you’ll notice the sound gets worse when you’re turning. The sound could be coming either from your belt slipping on the power steering pulley or from the power steering pump itself.

Power Steering Parts that Could Be Making Noise in the Cold

1. Squealing Serpentine Belt

Signs the Serpentine Belt Is Making Noise in the Cold

A worn belt will sound more like a squeal than a whine. If you hear a squeal at start up that amplifies or returns when turning the steering wheel, it is probably the serpentine belt.

Causes of the Serpentine Belt Squealing in the Cold

Your serpentine belt or accessory belt is made of rubber, which becomes less pliable when it’s cold. The stiffer belt has a harder time getting a good grip on the pulleys, and the belt might slip over the pulley a bit. That will cause a squealing noise. 

How to Fix a Serpentine Belt Squealing in the Cold

Squeals from the belts are somewhat typical in cold weather, and will be worse the colder it is. It may not represent a huge problem, but you might want to check the belt anyway. Belts stiffen with age, so a newer belt might keep its pliability better in the cold. If your belt looks stiff or cracked, you should probably replace it with a new one.

2. Power Steering Fluid

Signs the Power Steering Fluid Is Causing Whining When Turning in the Cold

Problems with parts in the power steering system will sound more like a whine than a squeal, and this whining noise will amplify when turning the steering wheel.

Causes of Whining When Turning in the Cold

The cold doesn’t just affect the rubber of your belt. It can also have an effect on you power steering fluid. Power steering fluid is a viscous material.  In the cold, it gets thicker. That means that it’s harder for your power steering pump to move. 

The whining you hear might be your power steering pump struggling to get the power steering fluid going. Power steering fluid tends to get thicker with age anyway, so just like your belt, newer is more cold-resistant than older. A bit of whining, particularly when you’ve just started up, or when it’s very cold, might be normal. 

How to Fix Power Steering Fluid Causing Whining

If the whining noise persists, you might want to check your power steering fluid. If the fluid appears dirty or gummed up, you’ll want to replace it.

What to Do If Your Car or Truck Persistently Whines or Squeals in the Cold

In short, a little bit of noise, especially when it’s very cold, is probably to be expected. Persistent noise, though, might be an indicator to check on the condition of your power steering system.

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Power Steering Making Noises? Why Your Car Squeals When It's Cold
If you hear whines or squeals when you turn, there may be a problem with the power steering. This post explains why your car squeals when it's cold.
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1A Auto
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One thought to “Car Squeals When It’s Cold Outside? Why Your Power Steering Is Making Noise in the Cold”

  1. I am experiencing squeaks and a rubbing noise in my steering. The power steering box has been replaced. I hear the noise coming from the left side through the a/c vents. My car had 155, 000 plus. Also, the serpentine belt was replaced two years ago.

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