Car Repair and Maintenance

Why Are Wheels Squeaking When Turning?

Your wheels squeaking when turning is not normal. As such, you want to have this fixed ASAP. In many cases, the causes are not DIY, so a professional is usually advised, especially if you’re not handy with tools.

If your car is making a squeaking noise when you turn, the general causes are lubrication issues with the suspension, low power-steering fluid, or friction between the steering wheel housing and the interior trim.

These are fixable issues addressed in this guide.

wheels squeaking when turning

Power steering

The power steering is designed in a car to help you steer by reducing the steering effort you require to turn the steering wheel, making it more convenient to maneuver or turn at lower speeds.

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This simple system in a car comprises 3 parts, including:

Pump. This component is driven by the belt you find on the front of the motor.

Steering gear. The steering gear and knuckles (where the wheels are attached) are connected by the tie rods.

Hoses. This component connects to the pump and gear.

Like any vehicle component, the power steering can stop working correctly, such as playing a role in the annoying squeaks you hear when turning at a corner. The seals, which contain the power steering fluid can wear and leak, causing low-level fluid, the interior trim can run against the wheels, etc. These problems will cause squeaks and needs fixing immediately.

Wheels squeaking when turning

If your vehicle wheels are squeaking, consider the following causes and fixes:

  1. Low power steering fluid

Power steering fluid is the hydraulic fluid in your steering system responsible for creating a hydraulic link between the steering wheel and the front wheels. It helps to reduce the effort needed to rotate the wheels and also lubricates other moving parts in the steering system.

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If the power steering fluid runs to a low level, your car will make squeaking or squealing noises since the steering wheel is no longer centralized.

How to fix

To fix this problem, you want to check the fluid levels and add more if necessary. If your power steering fluid is dirty or contaminated, you need a replacement to stop your car squeaks when you turn.

According to Lincoln, if the dipstick or reservoir level is between MIN and MAX, it’s not necessary to add fluid. However, if the steering fluid is below the MIN line, you need to add a power steering fluid. Ensure to check the level after each filling and make sure it stays below the MAX line.

  1. Suspension and steering lubrication problem

The suspension and steering systems in your car allow the wheels to move independently while making sure they remain suspended and stable.

Moreover, your vehicle alignment also depends on the condition of the suspension and steering systems. As such, if the suspension and steering system loses their lubrication, your vehicle wheels will squeal and squeak noisily while driving.

How to fix

Check if the tie-rod ends, seals, ball joints, and universal joints are still lubricated, otherwise, drying out stops them from functioning smoothly.

  1. Bad driving surface

Certain surfaces are one of the reasons for your wheels squeaking when turning. Your car simply reacts to the surface type, and you may not be able to help the situation, except to exit the surface.

As the tires rub on the road pavement, they squeal due to friction. However, something may not be right if this continues in an unexpected way. Squealing tires on specific surfaces will drag or slide across the surface, making noise. Some causes of this drag and squeak when you turn could be hard braking and type of tire.

How to fix

First, consider if your tires are the recommended fits. If everything seems okay with the tires, try switching your driving surface. If the wheels do not squeak on a different surface, you may just increase your radio volume the next time you’re on such a surface to cancel the noise.

  1. Wheels rubbing against interior trim

Your car’s interior trims are the parts that are more decorative than functional. They are designed to make the vehicle interior comfortable and warm environment.

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If you just bought a new car, you may get squeaking and squealing when the steering wheel housing rubs against the interior trim. The interior trim material tends to expand in hotter temperatures.

How to fix

Have a professional body repair shop determine the best approach to prevent the steering wheels from rubbing against the interior trim.

Other common noises

If you can’t tell if the noise is a squeak, hum, squeal, clunk, or others, consider the following:

a. Creaks, clunks and squeaks

If you get a creak, clunk, or squeaks, your car has wear and tear somewhere. It could be worn shocks and suspensions. Dry ball joints, bushings, and tie rods are also a possibility.

b. Grinding and ringing

Metallic grinding or ringing noises typically indicate rubbing components.

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c. Squealing, whining or screeching

These are common noises you’d get from the power steering system when turning. It could be a loose belt or a bad pump problem. Low power steering fluid, tire types, and driving surface are also common causes of squeals, whining, and screeching.

d. Hum

If you get a humming sound, you need to inspect and, perhaps, replace the bearing.

What a professional mechanic will do

An experienced mechanic may begin by attempting to turn your car to know the exact noise you heard. Next, they may open the hood and inspect the engine bay for signs of a bad power steering pump or belt.

Some mechanics will start by checking the power steering fluid levels. If low, an obvious replacement follows.

A common follow-up is usually to check for leaks to ensure consistent pressure throughout the power steering system. A worn or broken belt needs to be replaced and suitable for the existing power steering pump.

If the pump is bad, a replacement is also necessary. After the repairs, a mechanic will test drive and make maneuvers or turns to determine if the problem is resolved.

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Bernard Juchli

Bernard Juchli is an experienced racer, mechanic and team owner who trusts Avon Tyres. Bernard is the lead driver and force behind his Big Dog Garage Race Team. He is the General Manager and Chief Mechanic of Jay Leno’s Garage. Bernard and his crew of seven are responsible for all repairs, restoration and fabrication of Jay’s incredible automobile and motorcycle collection.

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