The steering wheel is a huge part of your steering and suspension system. If the steering wheel makes a rubbing noise while turning, there are various parts you need to look at to determine what needs to be done to diagnose the issue and fix the problem in your vehicle.
If you look at the main internal parts of your steering system, you can usually find the culprit before the rubbing noise gets any worse and progresses into a loud squealing noise that can prevent you from safely driving your car.
By determining how the steering system works, the main symptoms of why your steering wheel makes rubbing noise while turning, and the most common fixes of this issue can determine the steps you need to take to keep your steering and suspension system healthy for a long period of time.
How the steering system works
To figure out why the steering wheel makes a rubbing noise while turning, you first need to know how the steering system works in your car and the mechanism behind the importance of your vehicle’s control.
The steering wheel in any kind of car should operate efficiently, at a high-performance level, and quietly, only making noise to dedicate to the driver, there is a problem that immediately needs to be taken care of. If you notice that your steering wheel makes a rubbing noise or a louder sound while turning the wheel, this is a sign that something is wrong with the entire system.
The steering system functions to determine the car’s direction and contour in which direction your car will drive. The driver is allowed to steer the car and control the vehicle by applying a moderate force on the wheel to shift the entire car in the intended direction.
If you rotate the steering wheel, this can keep the car moving in the direction by utilizing the complicated steering system. Within the system, various components are crucial to the turning of the car. Pivoted joints work in tandem to enable the wheels to either move up or move down in the chosen direction.
There are two main types of steering systems that you will find in most modern cars on the market today. You will either come across a rack and pinion system or a steering box system in most vehicles that are utilized to determine your vehicle’s direction. However, if one of these systems is not working correctly, you will notice the steering wheel makes a rubbing noise while turning.
How a suspension system works
In addition to knowing how the steering system works, you also need to know your vehicle’s suspension system’s mechanisms and functions. This entire mechanism is a vital component of your steering system due to the safety it adds to you and the other passengers in your car.
The suspension system has various parts that work together to function optimally – the parts are the springs, shock absorber, and the wheels. All of these parts work as one to prevent the car from bouncing along the road and keep the wheel rolling smoothly along the ground.
In addition, the suspension system contains various parts so that the movement of one wheel does not influence – negatively or positively – one of the other wheels and change the intended direction. If the wheels all moved together, and the suspension did not alter one wheel at a time, this could cause the “steering wheel makes a rubbing noise while turning condition.”
Even if you keep up to date with your suspension system maintenance and repairs, the latest suspension system can still experience damage. If you notice that your steering wheel makes a rubbing noise while turning, then this could be a sign of excess wear and tear in your suspension system.
Causes of the rubbing noise
Faulty power steering rack
The power steering rack works to turn the steering wheel in your car and connect the fuel system and the electrical system to work together. The noises created by the steering wheel while turning the car at low speeds are usually the result of the power steering rack making the noises. In most situations, you won’t have to replace the entire rack – which can save you a lot of money in the long run.
Worn out Shocks
Shocks and struts are constructed to last a long period of time – however, if there are other faulty parts in your car or you have extreme wear and tear, then you may notice that the shocks and struts have worn down prematurely. If you hear the steering wheel make a rubbing noise while turning, this is a sign that these parts are going bad.
Steering Column Bearing Broke Down
If you hear the steering wheel make a rubbing noise while turning, you need first to analyze and determine the steering upper bearing’s health. During hot weather and humid conditions, the steering system’s heat can make the steering column expand and cause the plastic to rub against the other components.
Suppose the internal mechanisms rub too much against each other and generate excessive friction. In that case, this can lead to extremely high temperatures that can enhance and speed up the breakdown of parts that leads to the loud noises and the steering issues. Premature breakdown of the steering column can lead to the “steering wheel makes a rubbing noise while turning condition.”
Malfunctioning Tie Rod Ends
Although you may think as the driver that you control everything the steering wheel does, your car’s wheels only respond to the driver due to the tie rods. If the tie rods are not functioning correctly or have become damaged due to excessive use, this can be noticed by the steering wheel makes a rubbing noise while turning.
Once a tie rod is loose, damaged, or worn down, the steering wheel will make loud and noticeable creaking sounds that can be audible to the driver and the passengers. If you notice damaged tie rod ends, this can cause the “steering wheel makes a rubbing noise while turning condition.”
Dry Ball Joints
Ball joints are the mechanisms that function to allow the control arms and the steering knuckles to keep the car moving at the right speed, direction, and control. In order to work correctly, the ball joints need to be lubricated to slide along other parts without causing too much friction.
A dry ball joint can lead to the “steering wheel makes a rubbing noise while turning” situation. If the squeaking sound or the rubbing sound is very audible while turning the steering wheel in either direction, the problem may eventually get worse to the point where the steering wheel shakes during use.
Dry Bushings on Front Struts
The front struts contain jounce bushings at the top of the mechanisms. If the rubber parts on these struts that absorb excess socks, bumps, and friction become damaged over time, the vibrations will not be reduced, and the joints will move excessively.
Too much movement in the joints or on the front struts can cause the steering wheel to make a rubbing noise while turning. As the jounce bushings dry out over time or make creaking sounds, these problems will only increase until the parts are properly lubricated.
Power Steering Fluid Leakage
All car power steering systems contain a proper percentage and levels of formulated fluid for proper lubrication to prevent friction and transfer pressure to the smooth operation and turning of the driver’s steering wheel.
If you notice the steering wheel makes a rubbing noise while turning, then you may also experience a sudden drop in the power steering fluid and a power steering fluid leak. The low fluid level can cause the steering wheel to make noises and indicate a further issue in your vehicle.
Worn control arm bushings
Control arms function to connect the wheel hub and the steering system’s knuckle to the vehicle's frame. If the control arms are damaged, the wheel hub will be disconnected from the entire system and not be able to adapt to the various conditions on the road that a driver will experience.
Every vehicle has control arm bushings located at the joints between the vehicle’s frame’s upper and lower control arms. These control arm bushings and joints are in charge of connecting the parts and creating a mechanical connection for movement. Without the lower control arm bushings working correctly, you have to look into why they are not functioning at the right capacity and the overall lower control arm bushings replacement cost.
All the shocks and vibrations from the road that the bushings absorb can lead to premature wear over time and cause early damage in the parts. If you experience the “steering wheel makes a rubbing noise” while turning, then this can lead to a necessary inspection of the control arm bushings to ensure they are still working as they should.
Control Arm Bushings Replacement cost
The total price average for a lower control arm bushing replacement cost is usually between $105 and $400 for a replacement. However, usually, when you get a lower control arm bushing replaced, the mechanic will also have to check other mechanisms and components.
While he checks the other parts, he will usually notice something else that is damaged due to the lower control arm bushings damage. In this case, he will replace other suspension parts at the same time, increasing the total lower control arm bushing replacement cost.
Clogged Power Steering Fluid Reservoir
The power steering system needs to have fluid that is the right level, the right viscosity, and the right temperature. Suppose the fluid is not doing its job of lubricating the other internal parts. In that case, dirt, debris, contamination, and excess friction will build up inside the system and cause the steering wheel’s problem of making a rubbing noise while turning.
If the reservoir is clogged, uncleaned, or malfunctioning, then the steering wheel will make excessive noises while turning. If you notice that the power steering fluid reservoir is damaged or clogged with contaminated materials, this can lead to the “steering wheel makes a rubbing noise while turning” condition.
Damaged Steering Shaft Joint
The joint between the wheel and the steering rack is imperative to make the shaft straight and generate the proper connection and movement between the steering system. However, daily wear and tear can lead to premature breakdown and cause the joint to be replaced much sooner than expected.
If your heart finds the steering wheel makes a rubbing noise while turning, this can be a clear sign that the shaft joint has stopped moving properly, and the steering wheel is too stiff to operate as normal.
Steering Wheel Rubbing Noise Fixes
To remedy this problem in your vehicle before it gets any worse and harms any other internal components, you need to determine which parts of the steering system are at fault. Different noises in your car, like the steering wheel, make a rubbing noise while turning or a “steering wheel makes squeaking noise while turning” situation can affect what internal part is at fault.
Attempting to do this diagnostic fix on your own can take some skill and knowledge. You may find it is a better idea to bring your car to a local mechanic or auto body shop who knows where to look in the steering system or the suspension system to determine which parts need repair or replacement.
As you can see, diagnosing the root cause of the issue when it comes to finding out the reason for the steering wheel makes a rubbing noise while turning can quickly fix the issue before it gets any worse. You need to notice the signs and symptoms to prevent the rubbing noise from increasing noise and getting louder over time.
By looking at the power steering fluid reservoir, shaft joint, power steering fluid levels, control arm bushings, steering rack, shocks and struts, and other steering system and suspension system components, you can determine what part is at fault to diagnose and remedy the problem.