Why Does My Car Squeak When I’m Turning?

Usually, there are quite easy-to-spot telltale signs of something being wrong with your car. For example, it can make loud, crackling noises when you accelerate. Alternatively, you can feel the scent of smoke when you turn the ignition or notice drips of oil when it’s parked. Squeaking is no different; if you happen to hear a car squeak or squeal when you make a turn, you know something’s amiss.

Squeaking noise when turning the steering wheel.

Naturally, the first instinct is to get the car to a shop and have a mechanic look at it. However, sometimes you can establish what the problem is yourself, at the very least. With that in mind, this article will help you find out why your car squeaks when you make a turn.

Different Types of Noises

Cars are noisy in general. Some sounds, like soft rumbles and buzzes, tend to be just the inner workings of a vehicle. However, there are other sounds that you need to be on the lookout for, so let’s list them.

  • Ringing and metallic grinding: usually, this sound is associated with worn or damaged brake components
  • Loud humming: more than likely, humming is an indicator of a damaged wheel bearing
  • Crunching after a sharp turn: a CV joint must be damaged and needs repairs
  • Screeching, whining, squealing: anything related to the power steering system will produce these sounds
  • Creaks, clunks, squeaks: these sounds can relate to a wide variety of issues, including worn shocks, struts, brakes, and suspensions, as well as dry rods, ball joints, and bushings

Common Reasons Behind Turning Car Squeaks

Power Steering System Failure

Power steering is possibly the loudest node in any car. You can probably hear its familiar buzz whenever and wherever you drive. Normally, it contains a pump, a steering box, and a series of hoses. The ins and outs of power steering can be seen in the video.

Lots of parts make up this system, so if any of them fails, it can cause noise when you try to steer. In addition, if you happen to own an old car, chances are that a hose or the pump might need to be replaced. Since it’s attached to the wheels, you can hear a creaking, whining sound every time you turn the steering wheel.

Low Power Steering Fluid

Power steering fluid is an important component of any car. It’s a hydraulic liquid that transmits power to your car’s steering system. When applied, the power steering fluid will create pressure on the sides of the rock-mounted piston inside of the car, lubricating the pump. As a result, the car will run more smoothly than before.

Before I move on, I should highlight that you can, technically, drive without this fluid. However, I personally wouldn’t recommend it. Despite most cars today using power-assisted steering, we still apply power steering fluid for a smooth, easy drive. If we don’t, we can expect lots of wear and tear on the steering system.

With the lack of lubricating power steering fluid, the steering system will start making lots of noise. The squeaking you hear while turning might be a sign that the system hasn’t received the necessary amount of lubrication. I stress the word “necessary” here because this problem can happen even if you have a tiny amount of fluid in the car. You have to apply the necessary amount in order for it to stop squeaking.

Of course, the problems don’t just stop at the noise. A car without power steering fluid will be difficult to control. The steering wheel will turn sluggishly and you’ll need to put forth lots of effort just to move into a different lane. In short, you run a risk of something far worse than one or two squeaking noises.

Car squeaking when turning: Power steering wheel fluid issues.

Contaminated Power Steering Fluid

Power steering fluid is important, but keep in mind that it can go bad. Generally, one of two things will happen to the fluid. It can either break down, i.e. some of its components will start to mess with the steering system, or it can get contaminated.

Using the power steering fluid for a while can wear out the steering system. Tiny particles can break off from bearings, seals, insides of gaskets and hoses; once they do, they will slowly accumulate inside of the fluid. You can notice this change by examining the color of the fluid; if it’s turned darker than usual, it’s contaminated.

Unclean fluid can clog up the steering system. As such, you will hear loud squeals and squeaks whenever you make a turn. That’s especially noticeable if you try to turn while accelerating.

Rubbing Against the Interior Trim

The squeaking issue can come from the steering wheel housing. For instance, during hot weather, the metal material that makes up the wheel can expand. Once it does, it closes the gap between itself and the interior trim. The two materials will collide and rub off each other during drives, making lots of noise in the meantime.

However, the noise isn’t the only issue. As you drive with an expanded steering wheel case, you slowly start to wear it down. Moreover, you’re also wearing down the interior trim itself.

In addition to the wear and tear described above, your car will also steer poorly with the interior trim suffering from constant friction. And if you need to react quickly and make a turn, it will be far from easy and might even end up costing you your life. 

Lost Suspension and Lubrication

As stated earlier, the power steering fluid is vital to the steering system as it lubricates the pump. However, that’s not the only section of your car’s interior that needs constant lubrication. For instance, you also have to lubricate the ball joints, seals, tie rods, and universal joints.

All the parts listed above move when your car makes a turn. If they aren’t properly lubricated, there’s lots of friction which, in turn, causes lots of wear and tear. Naturally, the danger of wearing down these parts is greater the more you drive and the more pressure you put on the system (i.e. if you turn at high speeds or at sharp angles).

More often than not, a joint that isn’t lubricated properly will let out a series of squeaks. However, there are other noises that you might need to look out for. For example, you might also hear crackling, grinding, or screeching sounds coming from the suspension elements. These sounds are usually a sign of strong pressure on the joints as well as excess friction due to lack of lubrication.

Bad Shocks and Struts

Shocks and struts are important for stabilizing your car as you drive. Whether you’re turning, accelerating, braking, or driving off-road, you can count on these shock absorbers to help you maintain control of your car.

There are many different ways to find out if you need to get new struts and shocks. Fortunately, both products can be found at most major online retailers. However, most lists tend to avoid mentioning the noise. Namely, if you hear the squeaking noise coming from them, it might be a good time to think about replacements.

One detail that separates shock and strut squeaks from other noises is that they tend to be frequent and continuous. They have a propensity to break down if you constantly drive on rough terrain or if you’re always driving full-speed. Needless to say, damaged or worn-out shocks can cause your car to lose balance, making it crash. 

Belt Issues

Squeaking noises can also come from two different belts in your car. The first is the steering wheel belt. Normally, during long periods of use, the steering wheel belt can come loose, which would cause it to make lots of noise. On the other hand, it can also be worn out due to years of driving; this issue is most common with used cars that have amassed a decent mileage.

The other belt that can cause squeaking is the fan belt. Fan belts usually connect important parts of the motor, such as the crankshaft pulley, the alternator, and the cooling fan. It might be one of the most important belts in your car, so if you hear it squeaking, act as quickly as possible. Just like the steering belt, this rubber section can either become loose or wear itself out due to frequent use.

Ball Joint and Bushing Problems

Ball joints and bushings are integral to the power steering system. As such, they need to be replaced as soon as you think they’re worn out or defective.

Spotting issues with bushings and ball joints isn’t easy, but once you figure it out, you’ll be able to spot it in the future in no time. Namely, defective ball joints won’t just cause lots of squeaking. In fact, they will also cause slight vibrations every time you turn your car (coupled with the noise, of course).

Driving on an Unusual Surface

As a driver, you won’t always get to drive along durable asphalt roads. Sometimes, you will find yourself driving against an overly rough or overly smooth surface. In addition, you might drive over an uneven road, which puts extra strain on the tires.

Speaking of tires, their depth and tread might have something to do with your car squeaking as you turn. Depending on their size and composition, the tires can make noise as they run over a particular surface.

The Car Is New

Sometimes, new cars tend to make loud noises when you drive them and decide to make a turn. More often than not, you just have to “break in” the car by giving it a few test runs.

If you were to purchase a new car in the summer, you might want to keep it somewhere cool. The heat can affect the metal sections and expand them to the point where they interfere with other parts. On the other hand, if the squeaks persist even in cool weather, it’s better to consult a mechanic or even the manufacturer directly.

Preventing the Squeaking Noise

Refill or Change the Power Steering Fluid

If there isn’t enough of the power steering fluid, get a canister and refill your car. You can find high-quality fluid on Amazon. In fact, the listed product is one of the best on the market today.

Before you refill the fluid, make sure that everything is in order. Check the past due date, see if the canister isn’t damaged or hasn’t been opened before. Finally, check the color of the oil. If it’s in any way darker than it should be, buy a new canister.

And speaking of “darker than usual”, it’s highly important that you check the power steering fluid that’s already inside. If it isn’t the same color as it was the day you bought it, it’s probably contaminated and you need to get it out of your car.  There are many ways you can flush the power steering fluid; once you do it properly, you can refill the car with the clean, uncontaminated stuff.

In addition to purging the contaminated oil, you should also clean up the fluid reservoir if there is any dirt in it. Make sure to go over it carefully, as even the smallest speck of dust can contaminate the new batch of fluid.

Lubricate Everything You Can

It takes a lot of moving parts to make a car run. After a few thousand miles, they tend to wear down and break. Therefore, proper lubrication is a must.

If and when you can, try to lubricate every part of your car that moves. Make sure you learn everything you can about lubricants and where you need to apply them. It’s also instructive to talk to an expert so that you don’t overdo it.

Tend to the Suspensions

There are a few things you can do to maintain suspensions and keep them from squeaking. The list is as follows:

  • Soak the suspension area with some spray-on lithium grease for added lubrication
  • If rubber suspension is the problem, use a silicone spray instead
  • For a permanent solution, replace the suspension entirely if it’s worn or damaged

Get a Mechanic and Service the Car Regularly

Squeaking can be easy to identify, as I explained earlier. But sometimes, you might simply not know how to pinpoint it properly. Alternatively, you could be wrong. At that point, it’s better to take the car to a professional mechanic.

Mechanics can identify squeaking problems quickly, considering how frequently they occur. Additionally, they’ll do more than just fix your car up, thus removing the squeaking noises. They will also provide you with useful maintenance tips on how to keep your suspensions and your steering system in check. 

Of course, don’t take your car to the shop only when you hear it squeak. Instead, try taking it to your mechanic so they can perform regular servicing and identify any potential problem. In addition, you can perform a bit of “servicing” yourself. Always refill or replace your power steering fluid, make sure to lubricate all moving parts, replace anything that breaks down, and take it to the shop the minute something seems off.

Has this article been helpful? If you can, share it with anyone who has similar car-related issues. And if you have your own suggestions, please feel free to post a comment down below.

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