7 Causes of Steering Wheel Noise When Turning

Have you ever noticed strange noises as you turn the steering wheel of your car? These noises might not seem like any big deal if you don’t notice anything functionally wrong with your car. But you must realize that an unusual sound coming from your steering wheel is not a normal thing.

A healthy vehicle should not produce any noise from the steering wheel. However, if you do hear these noises as you turn the wheel, you shouldn’t ignore them for too long because they could mean something is wrong with one or more components in your vehicle and will continue to get worse unless you address the problem.

See Also: Reasons Your Steering Wheel Shakes

Top 7 Reasons a Steering Wheel Makes Noise While Turning

The noises that come from your steering wheel can likely be attributed to a problem within the steering system or the suspension system. Each time you turn the wheel, the components of these systems are put under stress and this strain can wear them down after a while.

To pinpoint the exact problem area of your noisy steering wheel, you should learn about the top causes first. Below are seven of the most common reasons your steering wheel makes noise when turning.

1) Dry Ball Joints

bad lower ball joint symptoms

Ball joints are responsible for allowing the suspension control arms and steering knuckles to move smoothly. It is important that these joints are lubricated or else they’ll go dry and create lots of cranking noises as they’re in use.

Ball joints are in use each time you turn the steering wheel.

2) Clogged Reservoir

clogged power steering fluid reservoir

Each vehicle has a steering reservoir tank which stores the power steering fluid. The fluid is kept clean by a filter which exists in the tank. If this filter were to get backed up with debris, then the reservoir tank would get clogged.

As a result, it wouldn’t be able to provide the steering system with clean power steering fluid. This will create noise each time you turn the steering wheel.

3) Bad Tie Rod Ends

bad tie rod end

The tie rod ends help move the wheels as the steering wheel turns. If you have worn out tie rod ends, then knocking noises will start coming from the tie rod ends each time you turn the wheel.

4) Worn Out Shocks

bad shock absorber

Shocks are what help absorb the vibrations and bumpiness that comes from driving. If the shocks were to ever go bad or get worn out, the vehicle would bounce around a lot more and cause noises to form each time you turn the steering wheel.

5) Bad Suspension Bushings

bad lower control arm bushing

Suspension bushings will not last forever in your vehicle. Once they start to go bad, they will break apart and eventually form a crack.

You will know when this happens because each time you turn the wheel, you will hear a creaking sound that you’ve never heard. This means you need to replace the suspension bushings.

6) Faulty Power Steering Rack

rack and pinion leak

The power steering rack is responsible for supplying the steering rack with hydraulic fluid each time you turn the wheel. If you have a bad power steering rack, then the steering rack won’t get an adequate supply of this fluid.

This will cause a whining sound to generate each time you turn the wheel. You will hear this sound the most when you’re turning at low speeds around corners.

7) Low Power Steering Fluid

low power steering fluid

Power steering fluid is essential for allowing the power steering pump to lubricate the steering rack and allowing the driver to turn the steering wheel smoothly.

If there were to be a leak in the reservoir tank or hydraulic lines, then there wouldn’t be enough power steering fluid going to the steering rack and providing the kind of pressure that is needed for you to turn the wheel smoothly.

Not only will it be harder to turn the wheel, but you will hear noises as well. If the amount of power steering fluid gets low enough, a failed power steering pump is on the horizon.


18 thoughts on “7 Causes of Steering Wheel Noise When Turning”

  1. I just bought a used 2012 Subaru and after taking on a longer drive than the test drive, I notice when I reach the speed between 70-80 and turn steering wheel left the front drivers tires make a noise like it was going over a rough road.. the steering did have vibration but what was concerning when I bought car back to center (straight) the rough noise stopped. It was only at the higher speed did not make the sound or feel shaky at lower speed. And it I turned the steering wheel slowly the rough noise (like driving over the side of freeway when they have the grooves to warn you you are too close and make that bumping sound ) that was similar to the sound my car was making when i turned the wheel to the left. Any ideas of what it might be? I am going to have AAMCO look at it. But was trying to figure out how costly this may be.

  2. everytime I turn I got that crack sound from the steering and I don’t know if I must replace the steering wreck or ball joints.I need help please

  3. hi
    I have a fiat ducato van, when turning the steering wheel I get a loud pinning sound .
    I have renewed the springs and struts , but it is still the same . you can feel it when holding the springs and turning the steering wheel. It feels quite violent . Can you advise?

  4. Rochelle, June 24, 2021 at 7:00 AM. I have a 2020 Hyundai Kona and just recently I am hearing a strange sound coming from the steering wheel when I turn it. It’s not a groaning, creaking or whining sound, it sounds like rubbing hard paper together similar to sand paper. I am very concerned because this car is new. I just had an oil change and they checked all fluids in March. Thank you you compliance.

    • Sounds like a trim piece may be rubbing against the steering wheel or column. The vehicle should be under warranty, bring it back to the dealership for them to have a look at it.

    • Check to make sure there is nothing stuck in the front wheels or brakes. You may need to inspect the wheel bearings and/or axles to see if either of those components are causing the clicking.

  5. Hello I have a 2000 Honda Accord and I got a new power steering pump installed last year. Lately when I park the car and steer the wheel to the almost very right it makes a very creaky/rustling noise as if something is caught in between but it must be one of the reasons mentioned above. It only happens when I steer to the right almost all the way. What could it be? Thank you!

  6. I only hear a creaking, groaning noise in the summer when my car has been sitting in the hot sun all day. It seems to be coming from the steering column and when I had oil change/tire rotation recently, I was told it could be the bearings in the steering column, which cannot be replaced. No problems with hard to steer, just the groaning during hot days in Georgia. Very annoying, too! 🙂 Suggestions? Thank you!!

    • Have the steering column/rack checked out just to be safe. Perhaps the groaning noise is coming from your power steering pump? Wouldn’t hurt to check that too. Make sure the fluid looks good and is topped off. You also don’t want any air in that system or you could get some strange noises while turning.

  7. I have a 1999 pontiac sunfire and on June 1st I had shocks and struts installed then my niece drove the car on Sunday she started hearing creaking or rubbing noises so I took it to Midas and had the ball joints and suspension replaced. My niece drove today on the 4th of July and it still makes the noise.
    I want to know what that is?
    Bad Tie Rods?
    Bad Power Steering Rack?
    Needing lube?
    Needing Power Steering Flush?
    It shouldn’t be making that noise.

    • Old bushings often squeak going over bumps. Check to make sure you have the correct size tire on your vehicle. If it’s too tall or wide, it could be rubbing the fender liner or struts when you turn.

  8. The noise coming from my steering wheel sounds like sand is inside the column no matter which way I’m turning it from setting still, I can also hear it while driving just moving the wheel back and forth, would appreciate any suggestions ??

    • This usually happens with a combination of dirt getting into an area that doesn’t have enough lubrication/grease such as the horn contact in the steering wheel or other ring. Usually the steering wheel needs to be removed so some dielectric grease can be put there.


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