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Hearing strange noises from your wheels can be very disconcerting. All it takes is one serious wheel problem to render your car dangerous and unable to drive, so uncommon noises from the wheels are justifiably nerve-wracking. As with all unusual noises from your car, clicking and popping from the wheel should prompt you to schedule an inspection straight away.
Even though the clicking or popping noise sounds like it’s coming from your wheels, the problem rarely originates in the wheels; that’s just where it sounds like the noise is coming from. The steering system in your vehicle is a complex system with many different moving parts, and many of these components can cause these strange noises.
There are a lot of different problems that can result in a clicking or popping sound coming from the wheels. These are some of the primary ones:
Damaged CV joint: The most common cause of a clicking or popping sound from the wheels is a broken CV joint. The CV joints, which stand for Constant Velocity, are essentially the wrists of your vehicle’s steering system. The joints lay at the end of the front axle, and allow the axle the flexibility it needs as the wheels and suspension move. When a CV joint becomes damaged, the axle loses its flexibility, and will make a constant clicking noise when the wheels are turned.
Bad struts: Your struts are an important part of your suspension system. Struts are shock absorbers with spring coils, and they help the suspension absorb the impact of the road, so that the frame and cabin of the car do not. Struts rely on a cylinder filled with liquid or gas, and a piston. The liquid or gas provides resistance against the piston, which absorbs a large amount of shock from the road. A spring coil furthers this shock absorption. When the struts are damaged or stuck, the suspension is unable to absorb most of the road’s impact. Not only is this harmful to your car, but it will usually result in a strange noise coming from the wheels.
Loose hubcaps: When the lug nuts on your hubcaps become loose, the hubcaps will have wiggle room, and will shake when you drive your car at high speeds, or when you make turns. This shaking creates a rattling noise that you’ll usually hear from inside the cabin of your vehicle.
Loose drive belt or drive belt tensioner: The drive belt connects your alternator, air conditioning, and power steering to the crankshaft, which sends power to these components. The drive belt tensioner keeps the drive belt taut, so that it efficiently does its job. If either of these becomes loose, the drive belt will tap against the car and make a loud noise, which will sound like it’s coming from the wheels.
Tires are inflated or shaped irregularly: If your four tires are not very similar in size, shape, and inflation, your wheels may make bizarre noises while you’re driving. Make sure that your tires are always the correct specs and inflated to the right pressure. And replace tires if they develop any irregular wear and tear, or any bulges.
A top-rated mobile mechanic will come to your home or office to determine the cause of the clicking or popping sound in the wheels, and will then provide a detailed inspection report that includes the scope and cost of the necessary repairs.
A mechanic will likely check your wheels and tires first, to make sure there isn’t an easy solution to the clicking and popping noise that you’re hearing. Next, the mechanic will check out the steering linkage and suspension, as that is likely where the problem is coming from. If there is an issue with the struts, CV joints, or another steering or suspension component, a replacement will be needed.
When a vehicle is making popping or clicking noises from near the wheel, it could be a sign of a serious issue. Continuing to drive a vehicle that has damaged struts or CV joints could result in more severe damage, and an unsafe vehicle to drive. Any time you notice your car making noises that you are not familiar with, you should schedule an inspection immediately.