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Knocking Sound When Turning Steering Wheel: What Is Causing It?

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When you turn the steering wheel in your car, the last thing that you want to have happen is for it to cause a knocking sound to occur. If there is a knocking sound when turning the steering wheel in your car, it could indicate an issue. In some cases, it might be a relatively minor issue that won’t be too difficult to fix. But in other instances, it could be a serious problem that you’ll need to have taken care of immediately. Either way, you should be on the ball and address the knocking sound as soon as you can. Continue reading to find out what might be causing the knocking sound to take place when you turn your steering wheel.

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Common Causes of a Knocking Sound When Turning the Steering Wheel

It’s almost impossible to pinpoint the exact problem that you might be having when you hear a strange sound while turning your steering wheel. There are actually quite a few things that can cause a knocking sound when turning the steering wheel in a car. Most of them will involve either the steering system or the suspension system in your vehicle.


You should learn about what they are so that you can inch closer to finding out why your car is producing a sound that you’ve never heard before. Here are 9 of the most common causes of a knocking sound when turning the steering wheel in a car.

1. Bad Power Steering Rack

The power steering rack in your car plays a big part in your ability to turn it. Your power steering rack needs to be firing on all cylinders in order for you to turn your steering wheel, especially when you’re in motion. If there is something wrong with your steering rack, you could end up hearing a knocking sound when turning the steering wheel in your car. This will most often happen when you’re driving your car at lower speeds.


If you find that your car makes a knocking sound when you’re driving it at low speeds on a regular basis, you may want to have your mechanic check out your power steering rack. There is also a chance that something like a bad vane pump in your car could be causing this particular problem. Whatever the case, you’re not going to want to keep driving a car when it’s making knocking sounds while you’re driving it. It could lead to more serious problems down the line.

2. Dry Jounce Bushing

The front struts in your car have what are called jounce bushings on top of them. When these bushings are first installed, they’ll have all the lubrication that they need. But as they begin to get older, the jounce bushings in your car can begin to dry out, which can sometimes result in them making knocking, groaning, or creaking sounds when you’re behind the wheel.


At first, the sounds that your jounce bushings make might be relatively subtle. This might lead to you to believe that they’re not all that serious. But as time goes on, the sounds that dry jounce bushings make will begin to get worse and worse. It won’t be long at all before you have no choice but to take your car in for service so that you can get your bad jounce bushings replaced and prevent the knocking sound when turning the steering wheel in your car.

3. Failing Struts and Shocks

The struts and shocks that are in your car are actually designed to last for a pretty long time. You’re not going to have to worry about replacing them as often as you replace things like your brake pads and brake rotors. But with that being said, the struts and shocks in a car will wear down over the years and will eventually need to be replaced. And one of the first signs of this is going to be a knocking sound when turning the steering wheel in your car.


Your struts and shocks are going to begin to let you know that it’s time to replace them by making sounds when you turn your car. If you don’t do anything about it, these parts are also going to start to make your car bounce up and down every time you drive it. Before long, it’s going to be very uncomfortable for you to drive around in your car. Your only option is going to be to take it to have the struts and shocks replaced.

4. Old Tie Rods

When you turn your car’s steering wheel to the left or right, the tie rods in it are in charge of moving your tires in whichever direction they need to go in. This means that it’s very important for your tie rods to be in good working order at all times. If you hear a knocking sound when turning the steering wheel in your car, it could be because you have old tie rods that have begun to go bad. Bad tie rods can also cause other sounds like clunking and creaking as they wear out on you.


Similar to a bad power steering rack, bad tie rods are typically going to give you the most trouble when you’re turning your car at low speeds. If you find that you hear your car knocking or making other sounds at lower rates of speed, you might want to have your mechanic inspect your tie rods to see whether or not they need to be replaced. They could very well be the issue.

5. Worn-Out Steering Column Bearing

A lot of the parts that we’ve talked about thus far that can cause a knocking sound when turning the steering wheel in your car are located somewhere underneath of your vehicle. This particular part is going to be a whole lot closer to you, and therefore, it might make it easier for you to detect a problem with it. The upper bearing on your steering column is the part that we’re talking about.


If this upper bearing has started to wear out, it’ll allow the back of your steering wheel to rub up against the cowling that is situated on your steering column. This may cause a loud rubbing noise or even a faint knocking when you turn the wheel. It might even make it harder than it should be to turn your steering wheel at times. You’ll often notice it more when it’s warm out than you will when it’s cold.


If you have any issues at all when turning your steering wheel, it’s a problem that you’re obviously not going to want to ignore. You don’t want this problem to affect your ability to turn your steering wheel since that could possibly put you into harm’s way when you’re out on the road.

6. Bad Ball Joints

Outside of a knocking sound when turning the steering wheel, have you also noticed that your steering wheel sometimes shakes when you’re driving your car? If you have, then you might have a problem with the ball joints that help to control both your steering knuckles and your control arms. These ball joints require lubrication to do their jobs, and when they don’t have it, they’ll begin to dry out and will make all kinds of sounds while you’re driving.


These sounds can slowly get to be worse and worse over the course of a few weeks, too. Once ball joints begin to dry out a little bit, they’re only going to get drier as time goes on. And eventually, they might start to crack and break on you if you’re not careful. It’s why you’re going to want to have ball joints inspected if you hear a knocking sound when turning the steering wheel in your car. Replacing them might do the trick as far as getting this sound to stop.

7. Cracked Control Arm Bushings

Earlier, we touched on how bad jounce bushings might cause a knocking sound when turning the steering wheel in your car. But these aren’t the only bushings that you’re going to need to be concerned about when your car starts making sounds on you. There are also control arm bushings that can wear down on you and crack if you don’t have them replaced. These bushings can cause the oh-so-familiar knocking sound when turning the steering wheel that so many drivers are familiar with.


Like with jounce bushings, you’ll need to have old, cracked control arm bushings replaced sooner rather than later to get the knocking sound to stop. You’re going to continue to hear it until you do something about your bad control arm bushings. You might also find that your car will experience further problems if you allow an issue like bad control arm bushings to linger.

8. Leaking Power Steering Fluid

All modern-day vehicles have power steering systems in them that are designed to help people steer their cars, trucks, and SUVs without a problem. These systems have power steering fluid that flows through them to keep everything lubricated and to provide the right amount of pressure to make it easy to control a steering wheel. This fluid moves from a special reservoir to the steering rack and pinion in a car to make this process possible.


But unfortunately, this power steering fluid doesn’t always stay put. There are times when it might begin to leak out of your car, which can, of course, present a problem for you. When you don’t have enough power steering fluid in your car, it’s going to be very hard for you to use your steering wheel. It’s also going to result in your car making sounds that you may not have heard in the past.


If you hear a knocking sound when turning the steering wheel in your car, you should know that it could be because you have low power steering fluid levels. You’re going to need to find out if there might be a leak in your vehicle. If there is, you’ll need to have it fixed right away so that you don’t have to drive around with next to no power steering fluid in your car.

9. Backed-Up Power Steering Fluid Reservoir

As we just alluded to a moment ago, the power steering fluid that is used in your car is held in a special reservoir until your power steering system needs it. That reservoir usually has a filter in it that is there to make sure your power steering fluid stays clean. But just one problem: That filter can clog up from time and time, and it can result in the entire reservoir getting backed up. Power steering fluid won’t be able to move through it smoothly when there’s a clog in the system.


When your power steering fluid is backed up, it might make a knocking sound when turning the steering wheel in your car. It might also make it hard for you to turn your steering wheel in the first place. You’ll need to have the filter in your power steering system fixed so that it stops causing power steering fluid to back up in the reservoir.

How to Get Rid of the Knocking Sound You Hear When Turning Your Steering Wheel

When you hear a knocking sound when turning the steering wheel in your car, you should think of it as your car talking to you. It’s telling you that there is something wrong that needs to be fixed. In some cases, it might be telling you that you need a new jounce bushing. In others, it might be telling you that you need a new tie rod.


Regardless of what your car is trying to tell you, you don’t want to ignore it. You should have your car looked at by a mechanic you can trust right away. They can recommend the right repairs to make the knocking sound when turning the steering wheel go away. It’ll quiet your car down when you’re driving it from now on.


It’ll also let you know if you might want to consider selling your old car and replacing it with a new one. If you choose to go in this direction, Cash Cars Buyer can pay you cash for your car, no matter what might be wrong with your steering system or suspension system. Contact us today to find out how much we’ll pay you for your car.

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