Clunking noise when turning steering

A knock when you turn the steering wheel indicates there is a problem with the vehicle's steering system. Knocking can be caused by a malfunction in the CVUJ, ball bearing, steering knuckle and/or support bearing wear, stabilizer bar, or other malfunctions.

In any case, when a knock is heard when turning the steering wheel, it is necessary to perform a diagnosis as soon as possible, because steering system malfunctions not only worsen with time, but can also lead to driving accidents.

To more accurately determine the malfunction, three things must be determined:

  • The type of sound. It can be solitary or repetitive, muffled or audible (usually metallic), loud or quiet.
  • The place where the sound is coming from. For example, in the wheel, in the suspension, in the steering wheel.
  • Situation. Specifically, when driving, when turning the steering wheel on the spot, when turning the steering wheel all the way out, when turning to the left or to the right.

On the basis of such data, you can focus on the source of the knocking sound.

What could be the causes of knocks/clicks when turning the steering wheel

  1. CVUJ
  2. Steering pins and rods
  3. Steering rack
  4. Steering axle
  5. Shock absorber strut
  6. Stabilizer strut
  7. Subframe

Place of knockingCauses of knocking
Knocking in the wheelPartial failure of the hinge of angular velocity (torn duster, bearing problems), noise from the steering tips/steering rods, steering rack when driving on rough roads, shock absorber struts (knocking spring), stabilizer racks
Rack knockingDamage of rack shaft, increased play of bushing and/or shaft bearings, on cars with EPS, mechanical damage of motor shaft and/or worm drive, wear in steering shaft cardan
Steering wheel knockPartial failure of the steering rack, rusting of the rack drive shaft, worm drive wear and/or mechanical problems with the electric motor
Steering wheel positionCauses of knocking
When turning the steering wheel as far as it will go (left/right)When replacing the front lever, it is possible that the lever is rubbing the subframe when turning. Sometimes craftsmen simply do not fully tighten the fasteners, which squeak when turning.
When turning the steering wheel while the vehicle is stationaryFaulty steering rack, cross shaft propeller shaft, loose fasteners, steering rods/tubes
When turning the steering wheel while the car is movingSame reasons as when the car is standing, but problems with stabilizer struts and shock absorber struts are added.

Diagnosing the cause of the knocking

To find out the cause, you need to do several step by step checks.

Clunking noise when turning steering wheel: video

Step 1

With the tires fully turned to one side, the CVUJ is more likely to squeal (you might even hear thuds in the steering wheel). If you turn the car to the left, the right external CVUJ will squeak/rattle, and the left one, respectively, if you turn it to the right. Internal CVUJ usually squeak when driving at high speed on a bumpy road, so they have nothing to do with the knocking when turning steering wheel. So if you can hear the clicking when turning the steering wheel or suddenly accelerate the car, you most likely need to replace the external joint.

Step 2

Tangs and linkages can become loose and squeaky over time due to normal wear, and they can also make a knocking noise when you turn the car. To diagnose the swivel tips you should jack up the car on the side where the annoying noise is coming from and first remove the wheel. Next you need to jiggle the tie rods and tips to check for play in them.

Step 3

Steering rack malfunction is one of the most common reasons why there is noise when turning my steering wheel. And it can be both in motion and when you turn the steering wheel on the spot. It is not easy to understand that the steering rack and not another element of the steering mechanism is knocking. To do this, you need to stop the engine, put the car on the handbrake, and ask your partner to sit behind the wheel. And get under the car yourself at the location of the steering rack. If the steering rack is broken you will hear squeaking noises from it.

Step 4

If you can hear a knocking noise from the steering column when you turn the steering wheel, the steering wheel camshaft is most likely to be at fault.

You can check with your hand, hold the gimbal with one hand and turn the steering wheel with the other, if it feels loose, it needs repair.

Step 5

Shock absorber strut leaks

If the cause of knocking is in shock absorbers or support bearings, there will be knocks not only when you turn the steering wheel to the right/left, but also in a straight line movement. However, during sharp turns, especially at high speed, such a knock will be stronger, as additional loads will act on shock absorbers and bearings.

In the latter case, the cause of the knock may be a burst shock absorber spring. It usually occurs on its edges (at the top or bottom). Accordingly, when driving on an uneven road, as well as when the car rolls in corners, the driver may hear a metallic clanking sound. When turning to the left — the right spring, when turning to the right — the left spring.

You can check the shock absorbers and bearings by examining them for play. To do this, you need to remove the wheel and wiggle/twist the shock absorbers and bearings. In rare cases, a loose nut could be the cause.

Step 6

If the stabilizer strut is partially out of tune, you will hear a thumping noise when you turn the wheels in motion. And the wheels will start to knock if you turn them to one side or the other at about 50...60%. However, the malfunctioning rack itself may squeak not only when turning, but also when the car moves on an uneven road. Often also the car wiggles on the road and you have to constantly control the steering wheel. Additional signs are that the car body rolls too much when cornering, and wobbles when braking.

Step 7

Crack in the subframe

Sometimes the knocking while turning is caused by atypical situations, which are rather difficult to diagnose. For example, there is a known case where a small stone hit the subframe while the car was moving and got stuck there. When you turn the steering wheel to one or the other side, there is a natural displacement of the steering elements, and they run over this stone. When restoring the original position, the elements would pop off the rock, making a characteristic sound. The problem was solved by removing the rock.

When repairing suspension components, e.g. when replacing a front arm, the front arm can hit the subframe when turning the wheel. Naturally, this is accompanied by a bump and rattle. To get rid of it, it was enough to lift the subframe with a crowbar.

With frequent driving on roads with poor pavement, it is useful to perform a periodic inspection of the suspension and steering elements. This will allow you to diagnose a breakdown at an early stage, and therefore save on subsequent repairs.

Conclusion

Driving a car that has a knocking sound when turning the steering wheel is not safe. Any breakdown that leads to it will only get worse over time, eventually leading to complicated, expensive repairs as well as driving hazards. Therefore, if a knock when turning the wheel is detected, it is important to perform a diagnosis as soon as possible and take the appropriate steps to eliminate the cause that caused it.

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