Well, that’s your car telling you something is amiss with your steering wheel.
But don’t worry:
We’ll explore a few reasons why you hear a strange steering wheel noise when turning, what you can do about it, and how you can prevent it.
This Article Contains:
- 6 Reasons Why Your Steering Wheel Makes Noise When Turning
- 4 FAQs about Steering Wheel
Let’s put those noises to sleep!
6 Reasons Why Your Steering Wheel Makes Noise When Turning
Your steering wheel connects to a network of linkages and gears that translates your input into lateral wheel movements.
1. Whining Noise
Sometimes, power steering fluid seals can wear down from normal use and leak out the fluid. In such cases, your power steering pump can whine to indicate you’re low on steering fluid. That’s when you should top it off or replace it if it’s dirty.
However, If you hear a whining noise and need a lot of effort to turn your steering wheel when your vehicle is cold, it could indicate a worn-out power steering rack. This usually improves as your car warms up.
A worn-out universal joint can also make similar noises and turn stiff when trying to turn.
If you have a worn-out power steering rack and universal joint, replacement is the most cost-effective solution.
2. Popping, Clunking and Creaking Noise
Hearing some very unpleasant clunks and creaks when you turn at low speed?
Well, your suspension joints might have worn out or are broken and need replacement.
Popping or clunking noise can be caused by loose suspension system components like bushings or nuts. These components may move around excessively when you turn or go over bumps.
You might also hear a popping sound if you have a worn or damaged outer CV joint.
How do we know it’s really the CV joint?
Crank your steering wheel to one side and drive the vehicle in reverse in a circle. If the noise gets louder, you need to get the CV shaft assembly replaced by a mechanic immediately.
Additionally, suspension bushings can wear out and make a loud clunking and creaking noise when disintegrating. This can cause vibrations and make it difficult to turn corners. A faulty shock and strut can also make a clunking, squeaking, and clicking noise when cornering or traveling over uneven surfaces.
3. Growling Noise
If you hear a growling noise, inadequate lubrication in the inner or outer CV joint could be your culprit. This usually happens when the protective boot covering the joint is damaged and lets the grease out. You might also hear a humming noise.
These noises can also indicate a damaged wheel bearing, bad intermediate shaft bearing, or worn-out shaft bearings within the transaxle.
4. Knocking Noise
A bad tie rod can create a knocking or clunking noise when you turn at lower speeds or drive over small bumps on the road. That’s because a tie rod helps transfer motion from the steering rack to the wheels. You should replace a damaged tie rod immediately.
Now, if you notice poor handling and a knocking sound when turning, the problem might be your sway bar. Depending on the extent of the damage, you may need to take your vehicle to an expert and replace either the affected parts or the entire sway bar.
5. Squeaking Noise
Ball joints help your vehicle’s suspension control arm and steering knuckle move together. If they get dry, you might hear squeaking or creaking noises when you turn the steering wheel slowly. Not lubricating these joints can also cause uneven tire wear and, in severe cases, a loss of vehicle control.
6. Roaring Noise
Although rare, a damaged upper steering column bearing can cause a roaring or humming sound and noticeable looseness in the steering wheel.
This bearing supports the upper part of the steering column. It ensures the steering wheel turns smoothly and prevents steering system wear. A professional may repair the damaged parts or replace them entirely for a smooth ride.
Got more questions?
Let’s answer them next.
4 FAQs about Steering Wheel
Here are some frequently asked questions about steering wheel issues and their answers:
1. What Is the Cost of Fixing Loud Steering Wheel Noise?
The cost depends on your vehicle model, the extent of damage, and the parts that need to be replaced. Here are some estimates:
- Power steering rack: $800 – $1500
- Universal joint: $225 – $400
- Suspension joints: $400 – $800
- Bushings: $300 – $500
- CV joints: $150 – $850
- Tie rods: $100 – $400
- Sway bar: $55 – $110
2. Is It Safe to Drive with a Loud Steering Wheel?
No, it isn’t safe to drive with a noisy steering wheel. Typically, any noise heard when turning the steering wheel indicates an issue that needs immediate attention. It’s best to get your vehicle checked by an expert mechanic as soon as possible.
3. How Do You Prevent Steering Wheel Noise Issues?
Take these steps to avoid steering wheel noises:
- Check your power steering fluid levels.
- Oil your joints regularly, as dry joints can be noisy.
- Take your vehicle to a professional for regular checkups to check vital parts like a tie rod, ball joint, and bushing.
- Ensure your wheels are properly aligned.
- Debris or small objects can get lodged in the steering system, causing noise. Inspect for any foreign objects and remove them.
- If your car has a hydraulic power steering system, check the drive belt, as a loose or worn serpentine belt can make a squealing noise.
4. What Other Steering Problems Should You Be Aware Of?
Here are a few steering wheel issues you should look out for:
- Steering wheel shakes at around 20 – 30 MPH: This may be because you have worn-out brake pads or imbalanced tires. You can change your tires or ensure they are inflated uniformly.
- Extreme movement in steering wheels: Different problems like worn tie rods or power steering system troubles, such as low fluid levels or pump failure, can cause this issue. You’ll have to identify and replace all these parts to stop the extreme movement.
- Difficult to maneuver your steering wheel: Anything from a low power steering fluid to a damaged steering rack can make it difficult to steer your car. Regular maintenance can help prevent most of these issues.
- Steering wheel is off-center: Although this is usually caused by wheel alignment issues, loose suspension parts like ball joints can also be the culprit.
Steer Your Vehicle Noise-free with AutoNation Mobile Service
Steering wheel noise, especially when you turn, can stem from various sources, such as low power steering fluid, a worn suspension component, or issues with the steering rack. However, identifying these issues on your own can be a nerve-wracking experience.
But not when you have experts from AutoNation Mobile Service ready to help you stay on the road!
We’re a mobile auto repair service available seven days a week. We offer upfront pricing, convenient online booking, and a 12-month, 12,000-mile warranty on all repairs.
Just get in touch with us, and we’ll come and fix any noisy car trouble in your driveway.