So you were driving along minding your own business, and you suddenly observed that your car is squeaking when turning left or right?
There are a couple of possible causes for this.
We’ll talk about the possible reasons for your car to produce a squeaking noise when tuning as well as common scenarios and questions people ask when this happens.
What makes my car squeak when turning?
Let’s go through the reasons why your car might squeak when turning left or right.
1. Low power steering fluid
Maybe you haven’t checked it in a while. Or you have a leak somewhere. Either way, check the power steering fluid level and top it up if needed. It’s that easy.
And if you’re disgusted by how the fluid looks when you’re checking the levels, you can actually DIY this and change the power steering fluid yourself. It’s dead easy – here’s an amazing guide from ChrisFix on YouTube.
2. Contaminated power steering fluid
Presuming you regulary service your car, the fluid shouldn’t get this dirty as to cause squeaks. But hey, it can happen! Or maybe you just brought home a new car and this just started happening.
Anyway, you can just change the power steering fluid and be done with it. Check the above link.
3. Driving on certain surfaces
As weird as it may sound, on some surfaces, tires just squeak. On some tires, depending on tread type and composition, you might hear weird noises or squeaks when turning in some underground parking pavements and such. This is perfectly normal, and all you have to do is… turn up the radio I guess? Or just leave the area.
4. A loose or worn belt
Depending on your car make and model, a certain belt might be responsible for the turning of the wheels or the functioning of the power steering system. We’re usually talking about the serpentine belt and/or it’s tensioner.
I don’t have to tell you how dangerous driving with a loose or worn belt is. Check it, and replace it! They are usually quite cheap, and on some models, you can even DIY this task.
5. Rubbing against interior trim
This usually happens on new cars. As temperature changes, stuff might expand, and your steering wheel might actually rub on other interior trim. This is dumb and annoying, but it can be a cause and can be fixed.
6. Suspension or steering problems
Believe it or not, there are a lot of components that actually need lubrication for a silent and proper operation. This applies both to the suspension but to the steering system too!
I’m talking about things like: tie rods, seals, bushings and ball-joints. All of these need to be lubricated. So if your car has developed a squeak and none of the above points apply to you, this might be it.
Do note that squeaks or unwanted vibrations in your steering wheel might signal failing ball joints and/or bushings. Inspect them with your mechanic and get them replaced.
And, of course, it may as well be the case that your shocks and struts are done for. But this usually sounds more like grinding, not a squeak.
7. Tire rub
I did not notice until I actually got out of the car and checked, but one of my springs had once snapped. And that caused a creepy squeaky-like tire rub. So that can also be a cause of the squeak if none of the above points have
8. Brakes need some love
If none of the above has turned out to be the source of the squeak, check your braking system. It might be the case that something is wrong here. Even if they are not part of the steering system, you do have parts of the brake system that sit in the wheel, that is turning. So things might go wrong.
Common questions about squeaking when turning
Your power steering fluid might be low. Top it up! And keep an eye on it’s level in case you have a leak.
An often culprit is the CV joint (constant-velocity joint). It might need replacing, as CV joints have a protective boot filled with grease and sealed. When they get damaged or cracked, the CV joint can run dry, and some squealing, crunching, or clicking noise might appear.
In cold climates, your car’s serpentine belt may squeal on unusually cold days. The belt is stiff and brittle because of the cold. And this usually stops after the belt has had time to warm up.
It may very well be any symptom of the power steering squeak (like low fluid), but often, you might find that your lower ball joints are in need of replacement. But please do inspect the braking system to make sure everything is ok – it might just be the brake pad wear indicators. Don’t play with brakes.
As you can see, squeaking when turning might have a lot of causes.
It’s best you take it one step at a time and properly diagnose this issue as you wouldn’t want to lose power steering on the highway or leave other suspension or even brake problems unattended. It’s your safety!