What's behind this shrieking wheel?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Sep 01, 1993

Dear Tom and Ray:

The right front wheel of my 1985 Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera shrieks horribly. Mostly, this happens in the first couple of miles of driving, and then intermittently. I find this embarrassing, not to mention disturbing. I have taken it to four mechanics who have been unable to diagnose the problem. How about you guys?

RAY: You think THAT'S embarrassing? My brother drive's around in a 1963 Dodge Dart, and the shrieks HE hears are all coming from his passengers!

TOM: I'm sympathetic, Betty. Noises ARE embarrassing, aren't they? But I'm not entirely convinced that your noise is coming from your right front wheel. The way you describe it, it sounds like it could be a squealing belt. And this car happens to have a belt right next to the right front wheel. So the first thing I'd do is leave the car overnight with your mechanic, and have him determine whether it's a belt noise or a wheel noise.

RAY: If it is a squealing belt, that's easy to fix. It also explains why those four mechanics couldn't find anything wrong with your right front wheel.

TOM: But if it is a wheel noise, my guess is that you have a brake caliper that's sticking. It sticks and shrieks for the first few miles, and then it loosens up and everything's fine until the car sits again for a while.

RAY: And that means your mechanics are just going to have to look a little bit harder. What they have to do is remove the right front caliper and make sure the piston and slides move freely. They should also make sure there's an anti-rattle clip on the inboard pad, and that "Disc-Brake Quiet" or some similar product has been applied to the pads. And if that doesn't fix it, go ahead and replace the caliper, because I'll bet my brother's salary this week that that's what it is.

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