Maintaining your car’s components will enable you to enjoy an excellent driving experience. The steering wheel is one of such vital parts of a vehicle. If you often hear a clicking noise when turning steering wheel at low speed, it’s a sign that your CV joints are worn out.
In other cases, you may hear a squealing, groaning, or whining noise. Also, the steering wheel can become stiff and unresponsive when driving. These symptoms of a failing power steering can be frustrating.
So, we will look at the causes of clicking noise when turning the steering wheel. I’m also going to show you how to fix the issue in this article.
Causes of Clicking Noise When Turning Steering Wheel at Low Speed
Bad CV joints are the main cause of the clicking noise from your steering wheel when turning at low speed. Others include; worn-out ball joints, low power steering fluid, bad struts and shocks, bad control arm bushings, bad tie rod ends, dry jounce bushings, bad power steering rack, etc.
CV joint failure
A bad CV joint could be responsible if your car’s steering wheel clicks when turning. The CV joints connect a vehicle’s transmission to the wheels. The components are responsible for distributing engine power to the car’s wheel.
Unfortunately, when these parts become worn out, they emit a clicking noise as you turn your steering wheel.
Worn-out ball joint
The ball joints enable your vehicle’s steering knuckles and control arms to maintain movement. The lubrication of these joints is necessary to keep them from becoming dry.
If they are under-lubricated, the components will begin to make noise after completely dry. You will also experience a similar situation when they become worn out.
Low power steering fluid
The power steering system requires constant lubrication to operate optimally. Running low on power steering fluid will result in under-lubrication of the steering system. This will further lead to unpleasant clicking sounds. Fluid leaks are the main cause of low power steering fluid.
Using low-quality fluid in your car’s power steering system can also cause the steering to produce clicking sounds. Vehicle manufacturers have specifically recommended types of fluid for their cars.
A non-compatible fluid will not adequately lubricate the power steering system’s parts. This will eventually trigger unpleasant noise.
Bad struts and shocks
A vehicle’s struts and shocks are designed to last long. However, they are susceptible to wear and tear over time. As these components wear down, you will likely experience a clicking steering wheel when turning.
Bad control arm bushings
Like most vehicle parts, the control arm bushings are subject to wear and tear over time. The components will go bad someday. When these components finally break down and go bad, you often hear a disturbing noise when turning the steering wheel at slow speed.
Bad tie rod ends
The tie rods allow the wheels to move in response to turning the steering wheel. These components will eventually produce a clicking noise if they become loose or damaged. This will often occur when turning at a low speed.
Dry jounce bushings
The jounce bushing on top of your car’s front strut requires adequate lubrication. When this component becomes dry, it eventually produces a groaning or creaking noise. This will usually occur as you turn your car’s steering wheel.
Bad power steering rack
A car’s power steering rack can be damaged due to an accident. An extended service gap can also affect the power steering rack. Any of these can also cause the clicking noise from your steering wheel when turning.
Worn steering column bearing
The steering column bearing is designed to enable the wheel to rotate smoothly and effectively. The component is mounted to the steering column of the vehicle. If the steering column bearing fails, you will not only experience a clicking sound but handling the steering will be tough.
How to fix Clicking Steering Wheel Noises
Fixing a noisy steering wheel can be relatively simple and cheap, depending on the cause of the problem. On the flip side, you may have to replace some components. This can result in more expensive repairs. Nevertheless, here’s how to fix a clicking steering wheel.
Diagnose the cause of the clicking noise
Firstly, properly diagnose the cause of the clicking noise before attempting a repair. If you cannot diagnose accurately, kindly contact an expert auto technician for the task.
Top off low power steering fluid
Sometimes, under-lubrication may cause the clicking noise coming from your steering wheel. This may further be traced to low power steering fluid level. In this case, top off the fluid level.
Use the correct power steering fluid
Topping off low power steering fluid is not enough. It’s also important to buy the recommended fluid for your car. Otherwise, adding just any fluid to your car’s power steering reservoir will do more harm than good.
Replace faulty/damaged components
Lastly, if you top off the power steering fluid with the correct fluid and the noise remains, some components may be due for replacement. So, identify and replace any faulty or damaged component within the power steering system.
For instance, if you have a bad CV joint, the best option is to replace the entire axle. However, you can get only the CV boot kit to save a few bucks.
Can Low Power Steering Fluid Cause Clicking Noise?
Yes, low power steering fluid can cause some parts of your hydraulic power steering system to be under-lubricated. As you turn, this will further cause the steering to produce a clicking noise.
One of the main reasons for low power steering fluid is unnoticed leaks. Meanwhile, power steering fluid leaks are caused by worn seals on the power steering pump, loose fluid hose, worn power steering rack, and excessive pressure in the power steering system.
An overfilled power steering fluid reservoir will result in excessive pressure. This will eventually blow the seals in the steering system. Hence, you must ensure to keep the fluid at the recommended level.
Meanwhile, pay attention to fluid leak symptoms around your car. One of the most obvious signs of fluid leaks is the presence of puddles on the ground. You can either find red or fluid beneath the vehicle.
Is it Safe to Drive with Clicking Steering Wheel?
No, driving with a clicking steering wheel is risky. This is because you may further damage some vital parts of the steering system. The clicking noise may not hinder the car from moving.
However, since it is a sign of a problem with the steering wheel, you may escalate the situation. Meanwhile, it is essential to note that driving with a damaged CV will cause the joint to disintegrate further. This can make driving hectic.
You may experience difficulty in controlling your car. The tendency to be involved in a crash is high in a situation like this. So, contact an auto mechanic to diagnose and fix the problem immediately.
Driving with a clicking noise when turning steering wheel at low speed can be frustrating. The sound never goes away until you do something about it. If this is your current experience, this article provides a way out.
Firstly, ensure to diagnose the exact cause of the clicking sound. If you can’t handle it, let a professional auto mechanic help you.
Once you find out the cause of the offensive noise, ensure to deal with it ASAP. Always remember that it’s best to tackle a problem in its infancy.