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Under ordinary circumstances, turning your steering wheel shouldn’t cause any unusual noise. It should simply direct your car in the direction you want to go. However, there are many different parts that are affected by physical stress during turns, and if you’re hearing a creaking noise when turning, or a whining sound, a groaning or any other unusual noise, it could be a sign of something serious.
Your car’s steering and suspension system is very complex, and it’s all interconnected in one way or another. Turning your steering wheel engages the power steering rack, which requires the pump and belt to be in good condition, and that there is plenty of fluid in the system. It also affects the suspension – your struts take additional stress while turning.
In addition, you also have to consider the stress and strain placed on ball joints used to connect the front steering and suspension components (steering knuckle, control arms, etc.).
All of these components must be able to support the weight of your vehicle while being free to move in different ways. The need for movement means there needs to be plenty of lubrication, and it also means the potential for wear and tear on a number of different parts (all of which are limited lifetime components that will need to be replaced at some point in the life of your car).
Worn Shocks/Struts: Your shocks and struts are most likely the gas-filled type. They’re good at what they do, but they do wear out. If you’ve noticed fluid on the side of one of your front shocks, chances are good that it’s blown and needs to be replaced. You may also notice that your car feels very loose and bouncy when going over bumps or through turns.
Dry Jounce Bushing: The jounce bushing is located at the top of the front strut. If it’s dry, it can cause a groaning/creaking sound during turns. If not repaired, this problem can become more serious.
Dry/Damaged Suspension Bushings: Bushings wear out over time. Eventually, they crack, deteriorate, and must be replaced. It’s possible that this is causing the creaking while turning the steering wheel.
Worn Ball Joints: Ball joints allow control arms and steering knuckles to adjust to movement. They must be well lubricated in order to do their job, but the grease can wear out over time. When this occurs, expect to experience noise and deterioration.
Damaged Tie Rod Ends: Tie rods connect your steering system to help move the wheels when you turn your steering wheel. Creaking while turning can be a sign of damaged tie rods, but it’s more usual to hear a knocking sound when making tight, low-speed turns.
Damaged Power Steering Pump/Rack/Belt: Usually, problems with the power steering rack, pump or belt cause a whining sound, more noticeable during low speed turns. However, that can be mistaken for a creaking sound.
A top-rated mobile mechanic will come to your home or office to inspect your car’s steering and suspension system in order to diagnose the creaking noise you’re experiencing. The mechanic will then provide a detailed inspection report that includes the scope and cost of the necessary repairs.
The mechanic will inspect your steering and suspension system, including the power steering rack, pump and belt, tie rods, ball joints and more. It may be necessary for the mechanic to test drive the car to verify the complaint and pinpoint the origin of the sound.
A creaking sound when turning your steering wheel may be nothing more than a sign that your suspension system needs lubrication, but it may be a sign of something more serious, including tie rod damage, power steering rack damage, or a failing strut/shock. One of our professional mechanics can inspect your vehicle, determine the underlying cause, and then repair your car.