Car Makes Clicking Noise When Turning: What’s That Sound?

As a car owner, one of the most frustrating things is when you hear strange noises coming from your car. One such noise is a clicking sound when turning.

Not only is it annoying, but it can also be a sign that something is wrong with your vehicle. In this article, we will discuss the possible causes of the clicking noise when turning and the steps you can take to fix it. 

So, why car makes clicking noise when turning? Clicking noises while turning can result from a worn CV joint, damaged suspension components like ball joints, control arms, or tie rod ends. A clicking sound can also be caused by a damaged wheel bearing hub, connecting the wheel to the axle. This issue might be accompanied by vibrations or wobbling. Loose lug nuts can additionally create a slight metal clicking noise during driving.

Bonus Read: Car makes ticking noise when idle and acceleration

What Exactly Is Clicking Noise In Vehicles And How It Differs From Other Noises?

One key difference between a clicking noise and other types of noises is the frequency and consistency of the sound.

A clicking noise is typically more rhythmic and occurs at a regular interval, while a knocking or grinding noise may be more irregular and occur at different intervals or speeds.

Additionally, a clicking noise is usually more high-pitched and metallic-sounding, while other noises may be deeper or more resonant.

Here are some examples of noises that may sound similar to clicking noise but indicate different problems:

  1. Grinding Noise: Grinding noise is a harsh metallic sound that indicates metal-to-metal contact. It is usually heard when braking and can indicate worn brake pads or rotors.
  2. Squeaking Noise: Squeaking noise is a high-pitched sound that indicates a problem with the suspension or steering system. It is usually heard when turning or driving over bumps.
  3. Whining Noise: Whining noise is a high-pitched sound that indicates a problem with the gears or differential in the transmission or power steering system. It is usually heard when accelerating or turning.
  4. Rattling Noise: Rattling noise is a sound that indicates loose or broken components. It can occur in different parts of the vehicle, including the exhaust system and undercarriage.

Bonus Read: Groaning noise when reversing

Causes Of Car Making Clicking Noise When Turning

Here are the causes of car making clicking noise when turning:

1. Damaged CV Joint or CV Axle

Damaged CV Joint or CV Axle

If your car is a front wheel drive, the chances are that a bad CV joint is causing a clicking noise when turning.

A CV joint, or constant velocity joint, is a component of your vehicle’s drivetrain. It is located at the end of the axle and connects the axle to the wheel.

When the vehicle turns, the CV joints allow for movement in the suspension system, allowing the wheels to turn while also maintaining power to the wheels. 

The CV joint allows the axle to bend and flex while still transmitting power to the wheel. This is important because the wheels need to be able to turn while the suspension moves up and down.

On the other hand, a CV axle, or drive axle, is a shaft that connects the transmission to the wheel. It is comprised of a CV joint and a shaft.

There are two CV joints in a vehicle:

  • Inner CV joint: It is attached to the wheel
  • Outer CV Joint: It is attached to the transmission
CV joint working schematic

When an outer CV joint fails, it produces a clicking noise. When an inner CV joint fails, it produces a clunking or grinding sound. I have explained this in my guide on “can a bad CV joint damages transmission“. However, I would suggest you check both CV joints as we usually don’t know the exact nature of the sound.

How CV joint becomes bad?

There are several reasons why a CV joint may go bad, including:

  1. Lack of Lubrication: CV joints need to be lubricated to function properly. If there is a lack of lubrication or the grease inside the rubber boot dries out, it can cause the joint to go bad.
  2. Wear and Tear: Over time, the constant movement of the joint can cause wear and tear. This can lead to cracks in the boot or damage to the ball bearings.
  3. Dirt and Debris: Dirt and debris can enter the CV joint through a damaged boot. When this happens, it can cause the joint to wear out quickly.
  4. Physical damage: Rough driving or hitting a curb or pothole can cause physical damage to the CV joint, leading to a clicking noise during turns or acceleration.

When you remove CV joint rubber boot and bearing, you need to also inspect the splines on the CV shaft/axle. If the splines are worn, it can cause a play in the CV joint, which can result in clicking noises.

check spline of CV axle

To remove the CV axle, you can watch the following video:

2. Bad Strut Bearing

Bad Strut Bearing

A strut bearing, also known as a strut mount, is a component of a vehicle’s suspension system. It is located at the top of the strut assembly and serves as a connection point between the strut and the vehicle’s body. The strut bearing helps the strut turn smoothly when you turn the steering wheel.

The strut bearing allows the strut to pivot and rotate as the vehicle travels over bumps and uneven surfaces. This helps to absorb shocks and vibrations and provides a smooth ride for the driver and passengers.

The strut bearing consists of several parts, including a metal bearing, a rubber insulator, and a mounting plate. The metal bearing is designed to rotate smoothly, while the rubber insulator helps to reduce noise and vibrations. The mounting plate attaches the strut bearing to the vehicle’s body. 

strut tower components

Over time, the rubber or polyurethane cushion in the strut bearing can become worn or damaged. This can cause the metal strut mount and bearing plate to rub against each other, creating a clicking noise when turning.

The noise may be more noticeable at low speeds or when driving on uneven surfaces. In some cases, the strut assembly may also become misaligned, which can exacerbate the clicking noise. 

How strut bearing goes bad?

There are several reasons why strut bearings can become damaged or worn out. Some of the most common causes include:

  1. Normal Wear and Tear: Over time, the constant movement and vibration of the strut assembly can cause the strut bearings to wear out. This is a natural process that occurs as the vehicle is driven and can be exacerbated by harsh driving conditions or rough roads.
  2. Lack of Lubrication: Strut bearings rely on a thin layer of lubricant to reduce friction and prevent wear. If the bearings are not properly lubricated, they can become damaged and worn out more quickly. Moreover, with time, the grease inside the strut bearing starts losing its viscosity. The balls of bearings get degraded and rub against each other. As a result, the strut will not properly and produce popping/clicking noises when turning.
  3. Moisture and Corrosion: Moisture can accumulate inside the strut assembly, particularly in areas with high humidity or frequent rain. This moisture can cause the strut bearings to rust and corrode, leading to premature wear and failure.
  4. Improper Installation: If the strut bearings are not installed correctly, they can become misaligned or put under unnecessary stress. This can cause them to wear out more quickly or even fail entirely.

3. Loose Lug Nuts Of Wheels

Loose Lug Nuts Of Wheels

Lug nuts are the metal bolts that secure your wheels to the wheel hub, which is the part that connects the axle and the brake disc. Lug nuts are usually tightened with a torque wrench to a specific amount of force. This ensures that your wheels are firmly attached to your car and can rotate smoothly.

Loose lug nuts can cause clicking noises when turning because they allow the wheel’s rim to shift slightly or to move around on the hub, which creates a metallic banging, clunking, or clicking sound. The noise can be caused by the lug nuts rattling or air passing around them.

Loose lug nuts can also cause wheel vibration or wobble, which can affect the steering and handling of the vehicle. The noise is usually more noticeable when accelerating or making sharp turns.

How lug nuts become bad?

Lug nuts can become loose due to several reasons, such as:

  • Suspension work or tire swapping: If you have recently done some work on your car’s suspension or changed your tires, you might have disturbed the lug nuts and caused them to loosen. You should always check and retighten the lug nuts after any work that involves removing or replacing the wheels.
  • Driving conditions: If you drive over potholes, speed bumps, curbs, or rough terrain, you might put excessive stress on the lug nuts and cause them to loosen.

4. Bad Suspension Components

Bad Suspension Components

Suspension components are parts of a vehicle’s suspension system that connect the wheels to the vehicle’s frame. They are responsible for absorbing shocks and vibrations caused by bumps and uneven road surfaces, which helps to ensure a smooth and comfortable ride for the driver and passengers. 

Suspension components usually consist of:

suspension schematic

The main culprit behind the clicking noise when turning due to suspension components is their ball joints and bushings.

Ball joints connect the steering knuckles to the control arms and allow the wheels to move up and down. If the ball joints become worn out or damaged, they can produce clicking or popping noises when turning.

Bushings are small rubber or polyurethane components that help to absorb shock and reduce vibration in your vehicle’s suspension system. You can see those rubber bushings around ball joints of suspension components.

Over time, bushings develop cracks and become worn out or damaged, causing them to produce clicking or popping noises when you turn the steering wheel.

5. Gravel Stuck In Brake Caliper

Gravel Stuck In Brake Caliper

The brake caliper is a component of the brake system that houses the brake pads and applies pressure to the rotor to slow or stop the vehicle’s wheels.

When gravel gets stuck in the brake caliper, it can cause the brake pad to be pushed against the rotor unevenly. This can result in a clicking or ticking sound when turning, as the brake pad is rubbing against the rotor in an uneven manner.

This can also cause the brake pads to wear unevenly, which can lead to decreased braking performance and potentially unsafe driving conditions.

Gravel can get stuck in the brake caliper in a few different ways. One common way is when the vehicle is driven on gravel roads or unpaved surfaces.

The small rocks and debris picked up by the tires can get lodged in the caliper, causing it to make a clicking noise when turning. Another way is when the brake pads are worn down, and small pieces of debris get caught in the caliper.

Final Thoughts

In summary, clicking noises when turning commonly stem from worn CV joints, strut bearings, suspension components or loose lug nuts.

Gravel in brakes can also be problematic. Inspecting rubber boots, bushings, ball joints and wheel hardware can pinpoint issues.

Replacing damaged CV joints and strut mounts, tightening lugs, servicing suspension parts and clearing debris restores smooth turning. Maintaining lubrication and torque specs prevents premature wear.

Addressing clicking sounds promptly avoids further drivetrain damage or wheel detachment.

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