When a car ages and begins to wear, it is likely that some new noises will start developing. A pop noise when turning is one of the common car noises drivers hear, and it can be caused by a variety of different things. Any noise or sound other than the familiar humming of the engine brings no good news for car owners. The question is, how bad is this pop noise and what does it mean.
The popping noise when turning the steering wheel may seem like it is coming from the wheel, but it’s actually from the steering system. It is likely to be the root of any issue related to the turning since it’s the one that controls the movement of the wheels to make the car rotate on the road. Since the steering system is complex, it would take an expert like a professional mechanic to identify the problematic part which is the culprit of the popping noise when turning.
What causes a popping noise when turning?
Hearing popping noises from your wheels can be worrisome. Here are some common reasons for this popping noise when turning:
Broken CV Joint
The most common cause of a popping noise from the wheels is a damaged CV joint. The CV Joints or Constant Velocity Joints basically serve as the car’s steering system. The joints lay at the end of the front axle, and it lets the axle have the flexibility it requires to run the wheels and suspensions. When a CV joint gets broken, the axle’s flexibility also diminishes, the grease gets everywhere behind the wheels, and the CV joint produces a constant popping noise every time the wheels are turned. If you are driving a front wheel drive vehicle, you may notice a front end popping noise when turning. Fixing it right away may help you save your vehicle.
Worn Out Tie Rod
Another common reason for cars making a popping noise when turning is due to a tie rod that is about to break. This could be dangerous if you do not check what is causing the issue and immediately do something about it. Lift up the corner of the car while holding the wheel at 3 and 9 o’clock positions, and push and pull it. If by doing so, a popping noise is created, the issue is definitely with the tie rod.
The struts are a significant component of the suspension system. Struts serve as shock absorbers with spring coils, and they help the suspension in cushioning the impact of the road from bumps, jerks and shocks, so that the car’s structure and cabin do not. Struts depend on a cylinder that contains liquid or gas, and a piston. The liquid or gas gives resistance against the piston, absorbing a significant amount of shock from the road. There is also a spring coil that helps in shock absorption. When the struts are defective or get stuck, the suspension cannot absorb most of the impact from the road. This does not only cause harm to your vehicle, but it can also produce a popping noise coming from the wheels.
A pop noise when turning can also be caused by loose hubcaps. The lug nuts of the steering system have a plastic or metal cover on them called hubcaps. When the nuts are loose, the hubcaps will constantly wobble and flutter which produces popping noises. You’ll often hear the noises from the inside cabin of the car. But the noises will not only be present when turning, they will also be there whenever you are driving particularly when the vehicle is speeding up.
Loose Drive Belt or Drive Belt Tensioner
The drive belt connects your air conditioning, alternator and power steering to the crankshaft sending power to these parts. The drive belt tensioners keep the drive belt tight, so it works efficiently. If either of the two becomes loose, the drive belt will tap against the vehicle and make a loud popping noise, sounding like it’s coming from the wheels.
Incorrect Tire Inflation
Another reason for popping noise when turning is if your tires do not have the same inflation. It makes the wheels produce a popping noise when turning right or left when driving. Tires that are shaped or inflated irregularly will make odd noises while driving. The good news is repairing this specific issue is cheap and easy. You only have to make sure that all tires have similar specifications and design, and the air pressure in the tires is right and similar. Also, you should replace your tires when they develop any bulges, or any irregular wear and tear.
What does a bad CV joint sound like?
Aside from popping noises, a bad CV joint can also sound like loud clicking noises when turning. One of the most typical and most recognizable signs of a failing or bad CV axle shaft assembly is a noticeable clicking noise when turning. CV Axles that have become extremely worn will also lead to joints becoming loose and click when turning.
What To Do If There’s a Popping Noise When Turning The Car
To fix the popping noise when turning the vehicle, the corrective action is required. You need to take it to a professional mechanic near you so the right diagnosis is made and you would know what is going on with your car, what is the cause of the popping sound. This way, the mechanic will fix the problem correctly.
Once it is identified which side is the popping sound coming from, the CV Joint found closest to the wheel will likely need service. This typically involves replacing the entire drive axle coming with new joints on both ends. The defective joint may also be found through the inspection of the CV joint boot on each side. CV boots are created to keep the grease in the joint and make sure contaminants do not enter the joint that can cause damage. They must be inspected at each oil change and be replaced right away if cracked, torn or missing. If the problem is addressed promptly, just the boot will need replacement which is less expensive than the replacement of the entire axle. It is the same as other parts of the car which related to the odd sound when turning the vehicle. Make sure you do the following: check the vehicle, determine the problem, find the reason behind and repair it.
What Happens When Your Car is Inspected
You can go to an auto repair shop or have a mechanic come to your home or office, whichever suits you to properly identify the cause of the popping or clicking sound in the wheels. The mechanic will then explain to you what is going on, what’s the scope and how much the cost would be for the necessary repairs.
How Your Car is Inspected
A mechanic will probably inspect the wheels and tires first. This is to make sure that there is not an easy fix to the popping noise that you are hearing. Next, the mechanic will inspect the suspension and steering linkage, since that is likely the culprit of the problem. If there is a problem with the CV joints, struts, or another suspension or steering component, a replacement will be necessary.
Frequently Asked Questions When There’s a Pop Noise When Turning
How urgent is the service needed when you hear a popping noise when turning your car?
When a car is producing clicking or popping noises when you turn your car, it can be a symptom of a seriou issue. Driving a car that has broken CV joints or struts can lead to more serious and more expensive damage, and an unsafe car to drive. This is why you need to have your car inspected right away when you notice odd noises in your car.
How much does it cost to replace a CV joint? Is it expensive?
Unfortunately, yes it is expensive to replace a CV joint. The part alone, which is CV joint, can cost between $95 and $210. For labor cost, a mechanic can charge between $165 and $800, depending on whether it is a single or a double axle replacement.
What’s the cause of the clicking sound coming from my steering wheel?
The possible cause of a clicking sound coming from right behind the steering wheel that only occurs when turning is a bad clock spring. The clock spring is an electrical connection that makes it possible for the buttons on the steering wheel (e.g. horn or cruise control) to function without the need of wires directly connected that could get twisted up when turning the steering wheel. It is a small spring on the wheel side that creates contact with an electrical race on the steering column side. A clicking sound is created as you turn the wheel when the spring is broken.
Do you need to replace a loose hubcap? Can I replace it on my own?
Yes, it is necessary for you to replace it, and yes you can replace a hubcap on your own. A hubcap that matches other hubcaps on your vehicle can be available online, at a tire store that has hubcaps, or at the dealership where you bought your car. To replace a hubcap, do the following steps:
- Pull up the e-brake and park your car in an area which is flat and level.
- Using a lug wrench, turn one lug nut counterclockwise to loosen it.
- Remove 3 of the lug nuts on the hubcap, keeping 2 nuts on opposite sides on the tire, take off the plastic washers from the lugnuts.
- Reattach 3 lug nuts, tighten them lightly and unscrew the other 2 lugnuts to take off the hubcap.
- Place your new hubcap onto the bolts and replace the 2 lug nuts.
- Take off the first 3 lug nuts, put the washers back on, and screw them in.
- With the use of a crowbar, tighten the lugnuts to make sure it is fit tightly.
What’s the cause of the rubbing noise from the steering when turning?
There are two possible causes to this. First and more probable cause is an issue from the upper bearing of your steering wheel column. The second possible reason is if the cover on the back of a steering wheel begins to rub against the covers on the steering common which usually happens more in the summer months when weather is warmer as some parts of the car may expand due to the heat.
What happens when a ball joint gets broken while I am driving?
When a ball joint is worn out, it can seriously affect the steering and suspension of your car. A broken ball joint may be the culprit behind a clunking noise or drifting steering. If it fails completely, it can even lead to the wheel dramatically falling off the vehicle. So once you start noticing any unusual noise when driving your car, it is best to have it checked as soon as possible before anything more serious happens.
What’s the reason behind the ticking noise in my car?
The steering wheel or steering system is usually not the problem when there’s ticking noise in a car. Ticking noises are most likely related to the engine since there are several moving parts that can tick inside the engine.
Learn more about common car noises and their causes here.
There are six common causes of a pop noise when turning the car. It could be any of the following: a damaged CV joint, worn out tie rods, defective struts, loose hubcaps, loose drive belts or drive belt tensioner, and incorrectly inflated tires. It usually takes a professional to determine the root cause of the popping noises. So the best thing to do when you first notice these noises is to take your car to the mechanic so they can diagnose the problem/s and provide the right solution. The repair cost will depend on what the problem is so it could be a cheap fix or a much more expensive repair like if the problem is with the CV joint.