Why Is Your Car Making Clunking Noises When Turning Steering Wheel?

When you drive your vehicle should not make any weird sounds. These could be anything from clunking or scraping sounds to whining or grinding sounds.

This is even true when you are turning. If you are reading this article, however, your car is probably making some sort of noise when you turn the wheel.

Read on to learn all the possible reasons why your car might be making clunking sounds when you turn. Also, learn what you can do about it to prevent these sounds from happening.

clunking noise when turning steering wheel

Why Is Your Car Making Clunking Noises When Turning Steering Wheel?

Your Speed

Depending on the speed you go when turning the wheel and noises are being made could help determine what could be wrong. If you are going fast, slow, or normal speeds when the clunking sound is made, then it could indicate what might be wrong.

That is why it is important to pay attention to your speed when you start to notice grinding sounds while turning. That is also why sometimes you might hear a sound while turning and other times you might not.

Just because you don’t hear a sound all the time, doesn’t mean you should have things checked out. If you hear any odd noises when turning the wheel, then there is something wrong, and you should have your vehicle looked at.

Clunking Noises At Slow Speeds

If the sounds occur at slow speeds, then the problem most likely lies in the power steering system or the suspension. If the sound you hear when turning the steering wheel is a whining sound, then it is most likely the power steering pump failing.

The power steering pump helps make taking turns easier. It does this by helping lubricate the steering system.

If the sound you hear is coming from the engine bay or front of the car, then it is defiantly most likely the power steering pump. The power steering pump should be checked out and tested and replaced if needed.

If the sounds are more of a clunking sound though when you take turns at slow speeds, then the issue is most likely the suspension. The suspension is what is responsible for helping your car handle bumps.

The suspension springs get damaged overtime though from taking this pressure. They are designed to wear out though, so other more important parts of the car don’t get damaged from bumps.

If the suspension is popping when turning, then it is time to get them looked at and most likely have the springs replaced. Another name for the suspension springs are the shocks.

There are a variety of kinds, and they are all rated for the different amount of use, so get the best ones you can for your needs when getting them replaced.

If the sounds occur at slow speeds, then the problem most likely lies in the power steering system or the suspension

If the sounds occur at slow speeds, then the problem most likely lies in the power steering system or the suspension

Clunking Noises At High Speeds

If the noise occurs during high speeds, then the main culprits are CV joints, bearings, or differentials. Depending on the type of sound that is made can help you figure out which one.

The CV joint, if it is going bad, will make a clicking or crunching sound. The CV joint is where the wheels connect to the axel. A bad coupling can cause the popping sound. If the CV joint is bad, then it should be replaced.

If the sound is a humming or buzzing sound though, then you should check the wheel bearings. The wheel bearings are what the wheel floats on so it can rotate without friction.

While turning the wheel bearings are what carries the load of the weight of the vehicle, and that is why the sound is most noticeable when turning, especially at higher speeds.

If the bearing problem is not corrected, then it can lead to uneven tire wear as well as wobbling. That is why if you suspect the bearings are bad, then you should have them replaced.

Bearings are small, and it is a cheap fix and catching it early will save you money in the long run.

If the noise occurs during high speeds, then the main culprits are CV joints, bearings, or differentials

If the noise occurs during high speeds, then the main culprits are CV joints, bearings, or differentials

Clunking Noises At Normal Speeds

If you turn your steering wheel at normal speeds and a sound occurs, then it could be a whole variety of different components. It could be the power steering system.

This is especially true if the sound is a whining sound from the front engine area of the car. The power steering pump could be failing, or it could just be a loose belt or low fluid.

Check it out first if you have a whining sound. However, just because the fix might be easy, it could also be something more series. You might have a bad tie rod.

The tie rod is what connects the steering gears with the knuckles. In other words, they connect the steering rack with the steering arms. If the noise you hear is a clunking noise, then chances are one of the ends of the tie rod is bad.

This is especially true if your steering seems harder. A lot of times if a tie rod goes bathe steering will be loose and mushy. That is because the tie rod helps you maintain control. A bad tie rod will make your vehicle harder to control, so it should be replaced as soon as possible.

Other Bad Parts

On top of the mentioned potential problems, there are also a couple of other problems that will cause your car to make noises, and the noises can happen at any speed if these parts are bad.

One of the other parts that could be bad is the sway bar. The sway bar is responsible for reducing the body of the car from rolling when taking a turn. In other words, it helps keep all four wheels on the ground.

If the sway bar breaks through, then it will make noises from it hitting things when turning. If the sound you hear when you turn the steering wheel is a knock or clanking sound, and you have checked other things, then you need the sway bar checked. A broken sway bar can be dangerous because you could lose control of the vehicle.

One of the other parts that could be bad is the sway bar

One of the other parts that could be bad is the sway bar

The last potential bad part is possible bad ball joints. The ball joints connect the wheel hub to the rest of the suspension.

Depending on the vehicle and how the weight is distributed might dictate how soon or often the car makes sounds from bad ball joints, but most of the time the sound will be a creaking sound.

If you have checked other components and haven’t found the reason your car is making noise when turning the wheel, then be sure to check the ball joints.

Conclusion

So, as you can see, there are a lot of potential reasons why your car might make noise while turning the steering wheel. Any sound while turning the wheel though means you have a problem.

It could be not enough power steering fluid or a loose belt causing the power steering pump not to work or a dry suspension bushing, or it might be something worse. Your speed when the sound occurs can help you figure out the problem as well as looking at other parts of your car.

For example, check the tires and see how they are wearing. If they are wearing unevenly and you have sounds while turning then the suspension may be bad, the wheel bearings may be worn out, or struts might be damaged.

On top of this if you notice control issues, then the problem might be in a ball joint or more likely the sway bar or tie rods. No matter what part is worn out or damaged though you should have your car checked out whenever you notice odd noises while turning the wheel.

Your car should not make noises when turning, but if it does, then now you know what you can do about it. Luckily for you after reading this you can solve the problem and fix it or why your car is making clunking sounds when turning the steering wheel.

Ryan Harvey
 

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