Have you ever noticed unusual noises coming from your car’s steering wheel? These noises may seem insignificant if you observe nothing wrong with your car’s functionality. However, you must understand that a strange sound emanating from your steering wheel is not “okay”.
If you still hear these noises while rotating the wheel, do not ignore them for a long time as they may indicate that one or more components in your car are not functioning properly and will continue to worsen if you avoid fixing the issue.
So, let’s see what causes rubbing noise when turning a steering wheel and how to resolve them.
Reasons for Steering Wheel Noises
The noises coming from your steering wheel are almost certainly the result of a problem with the suspension system or steering system. Each time the wheel is turned, the parts of these systems are subjected to stress, which might eventually wear them out.
To narrow down the precise location of your loud steering wheel’s source, you need first to learn about the most common causes. Seven of the most frequent reasons your steering wheel makes a rubbing noise when turning are given below.
1. Shaft Connector
The shaft joint ensures that the steering system is connected properly with the steering wheel. Over time, the joint may deteriorate, resulting in a clomping sound while turning the wheel.
Along with the sounds, you may notice that the wheel is difficult to center and that squeaky noise is coming.
This joint is critical to the steering system’s operation. If it is not functioning properly, steering the vehicle will be difficult.
2. Power Steering Rack
The power steering rack is used for connecting the fuel and electrical systems and also to turn the steering wheel in your car. The noises made by the steering wheel when the car is turned at low speeds are mainly caused by the power steering rack.
In the majority of cases, you will need to replace the entire rack, which will save you money in the long run. This will help to solve the problem of “rubbing noise when turning at slow speeds”.
3. Power Steering Fluid
If there is any leakage of power steering fluid, this can result in a steering wheel malfunction. The fluid in your steering system lubricates the gears and other components, preventing friction. Unlike an oil leak, you may not detect a power steering fluid leak because it occurs only while driving. This issue must be resolved immediately.
The following are symptoms of a power steering leak:
- A lower level of fluid than initially believed.
- The steering wheel feels clunky or tacky.
- When the steering wheel is in operation, a peculiar noise occurs. This sound may be described as rubbing.
The source of the leak could be the power steering pump, the rack seals, or the connections between the rack, lines, and reservoir. If you suspect a leak, you should refrain from adding extra fluid to the reservoir until the leak is located and repaired.
Shocks and struts are designed to last a long time – however, if other components in your car are malfunctioning or you experience excessive wear and strain, you may find that the shocks and struts have worn down before time. If you hear the steering wheel rubbing when turning, this is an indication that these components are failing.
5. Broken Bearing in the Steering Column
When the steering wheel is turned, a steering column can fail, resulting in clicking or grinding noise. Along with the noise, the steering tilt function is disabled, the wheel does not return to the center, and the steering wheel feels rough when turned. These events can occur as a result of dirt and debris becoming lodged in the column and obstructing the gears.
Alternatively, it could be that the steering has inflated due to the heat generated by the steering system. When this occurs, the column’s plastic will rub against other components, generating friction that may lead the components to get even hotter, potentially altering or damaging them. Investigate it as soon as possible.
6. Tie Rod Ends That Are Not Working
The tie rods ensure that your car’s wheels only respond to the driver. If those are not operating properly or have become broken as a result of heavy use, the steering wheel will create a rubbing noise when turned.
When a tie rod becomes loose, damaged, or worn down, the steering wheel makes audible cracking noises that can be heard by both the driver and passengers.
7. Front Struts Dry Bushings
The front struts have jounce bushings. The vibrations will not decrease if the rubber portions that absorb bumps, extra socks, and friction on these struts become damaged or worn over time.
Extreme movement in the front struts or joints can result in the steering wheel making a rubbing sound as it turns. As the jounce bushings dry up or begin to squeak, these issues will only worsen until the components are properly oiled.
Fixes for Steering Wheel Rubbing Noise
To correct this issue in your vehicle before it worsens and causes damage to other internal components, you must first discover which components of the steering system are faulty. Different noises in your car, such as the steering wheel rubbing against the dashboard while turning or the steering wheel squeaking while turning, can indicate which internal component is a problem.
Attempting to do this diagnostic fix independently requires considerable expertise and understanding. You may find that it is more prudent to bring your automobile to a local technician or auto body shop that is familiar with the steering system and suspension system and is capable of determining which components require repair or replacement.
Cost of Repair for Steering System
While rubbing and all other forms of sounds indicate that one or more parts of the steering or suspension system are broken, estimating the cost of replacement is difficult.
It is possible that the mechanic will only need to lube dry ball joints or jounce bushings, and you will avoid spending a fortune to resolve this issue.
In other circumstances, though, you may need to repair tie rods or shocks and struts, which might cost several hundred dollars, if not more.
Additionally, repair prices may grow if you do not take your vehicle to a mechanic as soon as your steering wheel begins to make noises, as the likelihood that the damaged part may fail completely increases the longer you wait.
If you hear noises while spinning your wheel at low speeds, the source could be your power steering system or suspension. If a whining noise is heard when turning the wheel at low speeds, you may have a steering pump issue. We have an excellent post about the whining noises your power steering pump can generate if you want to learn more about it.
Q. How Frequently Should I Have My Suspension or Steering System Inspected?
Consult your mechanic to determine how frequently you should complete normal vehicle maintenance, which should include suspension and steering system examinations.