Under normal circumstances, the steering wheel runs smoothly with no resistance. However, it may make a clicking sound as you maneuver a turn in some instances. Given how dangerous a steering wheel malfunction can be, it makes perfect sense that you want to know what’s causing such noise in your car and how you can fix it.
Clicking noise when turning may be caused by faulty CV joints, a malfunctioning bearing hub, loose lug nuts, or broken sway bar links. The ideal fix depends on the cause, but cleaning the CV joints and replacing the grease therein often fixes stops clicking noise when turning.
In this article, I will take you through the causes of the clicking noises when you steer your car, easy fixes you can conduct yourself, and how to maintain your vehicle to prevent clicking sounds in the future. Let’s dive right in.
Why Your Steering Wheel Makes Clicking Noise When Turning?
The sounds usually indicate underlying problems within the steering system. However, the clicking noise when turning does not necessarily emanate from the steering wheel; it may be from other parts of the steering system. Once you detect these noises, it’s essential to take prompt action before the situation escalates and compromises your safety on the road.
To help you locate the source of your car trouble and take quick action, let’s explore why you may hear clicking sounds when steering your car.
Faulty CV Joints
All cars have Constant Velocity (CV) joints that connect the car axles to the wheels to transfer engine power to the wheels so the vehicle can move. The CV joints must have adequate flexibility to allow the wheels to turn smoothly and allow for movement on uneven terrain.
However, it may be challenging to navigate your car if the CV joints become excessively flexible. On the other hand, the CV joints may not properly function if overly rigid.
Clicking sounds when turning your car wheel may indicate that your CV joints are wearing out. The noise is usually due to the lack of grease in the CV joint, which causes it to get loose. It may substantially increase when accelerating or making sharp turns.
So if you hear clicking sounds when driving your car, you should certainly check your CV joint and get a replacement. Ruling out the CV joint allows you to assess the steering wheel system for other defects.
Read: Why Car Makes Noise When Turning at Low Speed?
A Malfunctioning Bearing Hub
The bearing hub is an integral part of the steering system located between the axle and brake discs. It’s the attachment point of your car wheels and the vehicle.
Axle bearing hubs are designed to hold the weight of your vehicle while simultaneously allowing proper wheel movement. When this component malfunctions, it produces a clicking sound when you turn your wheels by steering. The noise signifies that the bearings aren’t in good condition and can no longer facilitate smooth wheel movement.
If your vehicle has large wheels, the axle-bearing hub may often fail as it strains to keep the wheels attached to your car. Regularly inspect your bearing hub to ascertain it’s functional.
Read: Why Does My Car Shake When I Accelerate?
Loose Lug Nuts
Lug nuts are essential car components that fasten your wheels in place. They are designed to hold the bearing hub to the wheel and axle, putting the wheel in place and centering it correctly on the axle.
When the wheel lugs become loose, they can no longer efficiently hold the wheel in place. This causes the wheel’s rim to shift slightly, which in turn causes a clicking sound when you steer.
Fortunately, loose lug nuts can be easily fixed by tightening them with a torque wrench. Most vehicles should draw the lug nuts at around 80-90 foot-pounds. The LEXICON Drive Clique Torque Wrench (available on Amazon.com) will serve you well for this purpose. The torque wrench is pre-calibrated to +/-4 accuracy, ensuring precision when tightening loose lug nuts.
Broken Sway Bar Links
Cars have sway bars, an essential part of the suspension system that connects the left and right sides of the vehicle to keep it level when steering. These components have rubber insulated links at both ends to smooth the sway bar’s motion transfer to the control arm.
When the sway bar links break, they allow the metal sway bar to be in direct contact with the control arm, which causes a clicking sound when turning your wheels. The wear may be caused by rust arising from water accumulation or lack of lubrication.
So when you hear a clicking sound while steering your car, it might be a sign that it’s time to replace your sway bar link.
Read: Bad Wheel Bearing Replacement
Easy Steps To Fix the Clicking Noise
Constantly hearing clicking noises as you drive your car around can be annoying and worrying. You’d want to fix the problem as soon as possible. While most people think adding grease to the CV joint is an amicable solution, it’s not. To eliminate the clicking noise, you need to clean the CV joint and replace its grease.
This may sound complicated, but it’s a straightforward procedure you can conduct yourself. To make things easier, I have outlined a step-by-step instructional guide on what to do to get rid of the noise.
1. Get a Car Jack
Ridding your car of annoying clicking sounds when you steer is a job that requires you to get your hands dirty. You need to get under your vehicle to access the components causing the sound.
You will need a sturdy car jack to lift the vehicle before commencing work. The Pro-LifT Trolley Jack Car Lift (available on Amazon.com) will do the trick if you do not have one. The product’s welded steel frame construction and large steel casters ensure it can lift heavy vehicles without giving in to the weight. Therefore, using the product will ensure your safety as you work on your car.
2. Locate the CV Axle
Once you have gotten under the car, it is time to locate the source of your vehicle’s troubles.
In front-wheel vehicles, the CV Axles are located between the front wheels. You can find the CV joints that may be causing clicking sounds. The inner CV joints connect the axle to the transmission, while the outer joint connects the axle to the wheels.
3. Inspect the CV Joints
The next step involves checking the CV joints for signs of wear and damage.
CV joint damage is usually indicated by damaged CV boots that leak grease and allow contaminants such as water and road dust to make their way into the joint, accelerating its wear and tear. A clear indication of the damage is green or blue grease on the edges of the CV joints.
Read: Brake Pad and Rotor Replacement Cost
4. Clean the CV Joint
To ensure your car goes back to smooth movement, clean your CV joint and replace the grease.
To adequately clean the joint, begin by wiping off the excess grease using a rag. You may then soak the component in a solvent such as kerosene or gasoline. These solvents are effective in removing grease.
Let the CV joint soak for a while, then pull them out and wipe them clean using a dry rug. You may also use devices such as an air compressor to blow any solvent residue. After this is done, re-grease the CV joint, preferably using lithium grease, and reassemble it on your car.
If there’s a visible tear on the CV joint, you are better off replacing it.
How To Prevent Clicking Noises in the Future?
- Conducting regular checkups. Check the CV joint from time to time to ascertain its condition. Check for leaks and possible damage that may expose the joint to elements and dirt. If you spot a leak during regular maintenance checks, you can make frequent adjustments before your vehicle starts making clicking sounds.
- Change the CV joint grease. It is essential to change the grease in CV joints as much as needed to prevent damage. Typically, the right time to change the grease is when it has been contaminated with external elements. The new grease maintains the CV joints, helping prevent clicking sounds when you drive around in the future.
The best way to prevent clicking noises when you drive your car in the future is by implementing proper maintenance. You can start maintaining your car by.
Read: How Do I Know If My Car Needs New Shocks?
The sounds cars make can be amusing. However, you do not want to hear a sound that may indicate some malfunction in your vehicle. Clicking sounds when making a turn is one such noise that suggests there might be trouble in your car’s steering system.
In such cases, it is prudent to take prompt action to fix the underlying problem before it escalates and becomes a safety risk. Nonetheless, it is always better to take precautions and prevent such occurrences by conducting proper car maintenance.