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My Car Makes Noise When Turning: 9 Possible Reasons

person turning the key in the ignition of the car

It can be a terrifying feeling when you’re traveling or even simply driving around town, and suddenly your car starts making strange sounds when you turn. When something goes wrong in the steering system, it’s usually when a component gradually wears out, and the sound gets worse over time.

Although, this isn’t always the case. If you consistently notice a strange sound when you turn, it’s important to investigate the cause or have a professional do so. Sometimes it’s not a critical issue, but better safe than sorry.

car and road divider The 9 Possible Reasons for Noise When Turning

There are many reasons why you might hear a strange noise when turning. Here are nine common reasons for the noise and some potential solutions.

1. Tie Rod Ends or Boots

Tie rod ends are the piece that connects your steering rack to your tire. The tie rod end is a flexible joint with a rubber boot to seal out dirt and debris. Over time, the joint wears out, and if the boot rips, the joint will wear out quicker.

Typically, there is a clunking or jerking feeling if the tie rod end is wearing out.

Possible Solution: Typically, you’ll need to replace the tie rod end if the boot is ripped. In most cases, this requires special tools. So, you’ll have to take it to a mechanic or someone who has the tools to make the job easier.

2. Steering Column

Your steering column is what connects the steering wheel to the steering rack. If the sound seems to be coming from this, it could be a worn-out bearing. If there is a lot of play in the steering wheel, that’s also a good indication that the bearing is wearing out.

Possible Solution: Sometimes, spraying a lubricant into the steering column bearing is enough to lengthen its life. Otherwise, the bearing needs to be replaced.

3. Shocks or Struts

car struts
Image Credit: Palitsyn Evgenii, Shutterstock

Shocks or struts (whichever your vehicle has) are suspension components. However, they can still be responsible for unusual sounds when turning. Upon a visual inspection, you’ll be able to tell if the spring is broken. And if you’re able to relieve some pressure, you’ll be able to check if the mounting brackets are loose.

Possible Solution: If it’s a matter of loose mounts, they may be able to simply get tightened. On the other hand, if you’ve got a broken spring, it’ll need to be replaced. Typically, you’ll need a special tool to compress the shock and hold it while a new spring is installed.

4. Broken Steering System

Many vehicles today have rack and pinion steering racks. This is the component that is activated by the steering wheel and turns both wheels at the same time. When parts in the rack break or wear out, you’ll hear it and likely feel it in the steering column.

If something happens to the rack, it needs to be addressed immediately.

Possible Solution: Install a new steering rack. In some cases, parts of the rack can be replaced instead of replacing the whole thing.

5. Ball Joints

The ball joints perform a similar function to tie rod ends. Typically the ball joints are on the upper and lower suspension arms. But when they wear out, they can cause a lot of noise when turning or going over any bumps.

It’s possible to change most ball joints without special tools. However, special pressing tools make it a much simpler task.

Possible Solution: Replace ball joints

6. Low Power Steering Fluid

The power steering fluid is responsible for lubricating and pressing the steering pump. If the fluid is low, the steering system won’t function properly. And in many cases, it’ll cause a lot of noise.

It doesn’t typically get “used up.” So, if there’s low fluid, you may have a leak in the system. Worst case scenario, top up the fluid and keep checking it. Ideally, you’ll want to find out if or where it’s leaking first.

Possible Solution: Repair any leaks and fill up the power steering fluid.

7. Wheel Bearings

18 vs. 20-inch Wheels
Image Credit: mrsemilyhopper, Pixabay

If a wheel bearing is shot, you’ll likely hear grinding and crunching a lot of the time while driving. And sometimes the noises are worse when turning. Depending on the vehicle, you can purchase a replacement wheel bearing. But on a lot of vehicles, the wheel bearing and wheel hub are one assembly.

Possible Solution: Replace wheel bearing or wheel hub.

8. Power Steering Pump

The power steering pump is what provides turning assistance. Turning is 100% manual and is quite difficult to do without it. As the pump begins to wear out or sustains damage, it may still provide the steering assistance. However, it will likely cause a significant amount of noise.

Possible Solution: Have the steering pump repaired or replaced. Many times, you can get a remanufactured pump for a reasonable price.

9. Constant Velocity (CV) Joints

The CV joint connects your wheel hub to the steering rack. On each end of the joint, a boot-covered piece moves. If the boot rips, dirt and debris quickly ruin the internal ball joint. Even if the boot is intact, the joint can break.

You’ll know if it breaks because you won’t be able to operate your vehicle. However, if it’s only wearing out, the CV joint typically makes a pretty significant amount of noise.

Possible Solution: In some cases, if you notice a rip in the boot soon enough, the boot can be changed, and the CV joint will last longer. But if either of the joints is wearing out, they’ll need to be replaced.

car and road divider

Closing Thoughts

Unusual noises while steering isn’t always an emergency fix. However, any new noise is worth investigating to ensure your vehicle is safe to drive. Some noises could indicate a problem that could cause you to lose control of your steering randomly, which is not good.

Many of the above potential reasons can be visually inspected to confirm them. However, unless you have a reasonable amount of DIY experience, most of them require more advanced knowledge and special tools.

Featured Image Credit: Vereshchagin Dmitry, Shutterstock


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