Turning the steering wheel should be a smooth and noiseless action. If you ever start hearing noises coming from your steering wheel as you turn it, do not assume it is no big deal. There is definitely something wrong, even if the car appears to be working fine. These noises may be an indication that a worse problem is likely to come if you don’t do something about them soon. This may require you to repair or replace certain components in the vehicle. To know for sure, you need to understand the possible causes of a steering wheel that makes noise when turning.
7 Common Causes
There are two possible locations which can be responsible for these noises. You either have a problem somewhere in your suspension system or in your power steering system. This is understandable because turning a steering wheel puts these systems under a lot of pressure, especially their individual components. The more you turn the wheel, the more these components wear out fast. That’s when you’ll start to notice strange sounds forming.
Below are the top 7 causes of a steering wheel that makes noise when turning.
1) Power Steering Fluid Leak
The steering rack needs power steering fluid in order for its components to stay lubricated. If there is a leak in the reservoir tank or anywhere else in the power steering system, then the steering rack will be deprived of power steering fluid. This will make it difficult to turn the steering wheel as well as make it noisier too.
2) Bad Power Steering Rack
As you turn the steering wheel, the steering rack needs hydraulic fluid to make this happen without any problems. If the power steering rack were to have trouble getting this fluid because it goes bad or gets damaged, then an annoying whining sound will be made when you turn the steering wheel. It will be even worse when turning around corners while driving slowly.
3) Bad Suspension Bushings
Suspension bushings last a long time, but they will eventually wear out and start to crack. After this happens, turning the steering wheel will get a lot noisier than usual. The suspension bushings must be replaced to solve this problem.
4) Bad Shocks
Shocks reduce the vibrations of the vehicle as you drive on the road, especially bumpy roads. They also ensure your steering wheel movements are smooth and noise free. That is why if your shocks were to ever go bad, you would hear plenty of noises coming from your steering wheel as you go to turn it.
5) Bad Tie Rod Ends
When you turn the steering wheel, the wheels get assistance with their movement from the tie rod ends. If these tie rod ends get worn out, then turning the wheel causes knocking sounds to form.
The power steering fluid is stored in a steering reservoir tank. There is a filter which blocks debris from getting into the power steering system as the fluid flows into it. However, the filter ends up getting clogged with debris if it is not changed periodically. When you have a clogged filter, the fluid cannot reach the power steering system. This will cause all sorts of noises to occur when you turn the wheel.
7) Dried Out Ball Joints
The quality of the steering relies on the smooth movements of the steering knuckles and suspension control arms. The ball joints keep these components moving smoothly by staying lubricated. Unfortunately, the ball joints tend to lose their lubrication after incurring enough wear and tear. Once the ball joints dry out completely, there will be a lot of strange cranking sounds whenever you turn the steering wheel.