While it is true drivers should promptly attend to mechanical issues, it does nobody any good to panic when they arise. Cars sometimes signal problems through noises like vibrations, sounds when accelerating, and noises when turning. If your car makes noise when turning, there are many potential causes. The best thing you can do is to decide how to best describe the issue to a service technician. Simply saying “my car makes a weird noise” won’t help a professional diagnose the issue. Be specific in your description of the volume and type of noise, and also note if it happens when turning in either direction or just in one.
How to react to whining
A whining noise when turning usually originates from the power steering pump. There may be no problem at all or you may need to replace the pump. This depends on if there is noise before or after you have turned the wheels all the way.
If there is whining only after your wheels are fully turned, you are simply causing the pump to work harder than normal. If it whines before the wheels fully turn, the power steering pump is likely failing and needs to be replaced.
Step 1: Get help from a friend. Ask your friend to watch your wheels from outside of your car as you turn them and tell you when they have fully turned.
Step 2: Start your vehicle. When you do this, make sure it is in park.
Step 3: Turn the wheel and listen. Turn the wheel in both directions, noting when you hear the whining noise.
How to react to clicking or clunking
If you hear clicking or clunking that seems to originate from the steering wheel, there may be a problem with the front suspension or steering linkage. The bushings or joints are other possible culprits. Regardless of the specific cause, make plans to visit a mechanic after completing the following steps to best describe the issue.
Step 1: Park in a safe place. Make sure you are in a parked position away from traffic and with the engine off.
Step 2: Turn the steering wheel and listen. Wiggle the wheel back and forth, taking note of how much you can move it without feeling resistance from the wheels turning. Also, listen for the clicking or clunking to occur as you wiggle, so you can tell a mechanic.
React to crunching or popping
Crunching or popping originating from around the wheels or axles may indicate a serious issue in need of quick attention. This often indicates a bad CV joint, and it is dangerous to allow this issue to go unchecked. Plan for mechanical attention after you complete the following diagnostic steps.
Step 1: Locate a roomy place. Find a wide empty space or parking lot with little to no traffic.
Step 2: Drive in a tight circle. Turn the wheel sharply to one side and hold it in position as you gently accelerate.
Then, do this in the opposite direction, noticing when you hear a crunching or popping noise and if it is worse at one time than in another.
Step 3: Make wider circles. Do this in each direction and listen carefully, so you can tell a mechanic what you heard. Hearing the noise with wider turns indicates a more severe problem than with just sharps turns.
By reacting calmly and sensibly when your car makes noise when turning, you can hasten the diagnostic process. Once you seek a mechanic’s assistance, you can greatly reduce the labor time by describing the issue specifically and concisely. With fewer hours in labor, any repairs to fix the cause of noises while turning will be easier on your pocketbook.