Understanding Noises When Turning the Steering Wheel: Causes and Solutions

By: Kris LeSueur   |   08 Jan 2024
Image from: The Irish Sun

Your vehicle's steering wheel is a crucial component that translates your input into lateral wheel movements through a network of linkages and gears. However, if you've been hearing unusual noises when turning your steering wheel, it's essential to identify the root causes and take appropriate action. Below are the common steering wheel noises and their potential reasons.

Whining Noise

Possible causes:

  • Worn power steering fluid seals leading to fluid leakage.
  • Low power steering fluid, indicating the need for a top-up or replacement.
  • A worn-out power steering rack or universal joint.


If you suspect a power steering fluid issue, check for leaks and top up the fluid if needed. If the problem persists, consider replacing the power steering rack or universal joint for an effective solution.

Popping, Clunking, and Creaking Noise

Possible Causes:

  • Worn or broken suspension joints.
  • Loose suspension system components like bushings or nuts.
  • Worn or damaged outer CV joint.
  • Faulty suspension bushings or shock and strut.


Inspect the suspension joints for wear or damage and replace them as necessary. Tighten any loose components. To diagnose a CV joint issue, perform a turning test, and if the noise increases, consult a mechanic for CV shaft assembly replacement. Address worn-out suspension bushings, shocks, or struts promptly for a quieter and smoother ride.

Growling Noise

Possible Causes:

  • Inadequate lubrication in the inner or outer CV joint.
  • Damaged protective boot covering the joint.
  • Damaged wheel bearing, intermediate shaft bearing, or transaxle shaft bearings.


Check the CV joints and replace them if lubrication is insufficient. Ensure the protective boot is intact. If you suspect wheel bearing or shaft bearing issues, consult a mechanic for necessary repairs.

Knocking Noise

Possible Causes:

  • Bad tie rod.
  • Sway bar damage.


Replace a damaged tie rod to eliminate knocking noises at lower speeds or on uneven roads. If sway bar issues are present, consult a professional for an expert assessment and potential part replacement.

Squeaking Noise

Possible Causes:

  • Dry ball joints.


Lubricate the ball joints to address squeaking or creaking noises when turning the steering wheel slowly. Proper maintenance prevents uneven tire wear and maintains vehicle control.

Roaring Noise

Possible Causes:

  • Damaged upper steering column bearing.


Consult a professional to assess and repair the damaged upper steering column bearing. Addressing this issue ensures a smooth ride and prevents steering system wear.


The noise made by your steering wheel may be due to casual wear and tear or actual damage that could lead to bigger issues if not immediately addressed. Understanding the cause of the noises emanating from your steering wheel is crucial for maintaining your vehicle's safety and performance. Immediately take your car to your trusted mechanic if you suspect a problem based on the information above.

Identifying the root causes and taking appropriate action can help you enjoy a quieter, smoother, and safer driving experience. Make it a habit to perform routine checks on your car to avoid issues.

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