If you have ever turned your car’s steering wheel while the car is stationary, and you hear a strange clicking or popping noise, this may be an indication that something is gravely wrong!
The problem could be due to a number of reasons such as a faulty power steering rack, worn-out struts, fluid leaks, and others.
This article will provide you with all the necessary information on the reasons why your car may be making a strange noise when turning steering wheel while parked and what you should do!
Normal Steering Wheel Noises
If your steering wheel starts to make strange noises, determining the cause can require multiple steps. However, not all the noises that your steering wheel makes will indicate a definite issue.
A wheel can get stiff when a car does not receive use for an extended period of time, like in the winter. If this is the case, when you eventually try to use it, the car wheel may make a creaking or groaning sound due to the cold stiffness. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean your car steering wheel is doomed.
To understand whether your steering wheel is making noises because of damage, you will first need to understand how to differentiate between the normal sounds steering wheels make and the ones that occur happen there is damage.
Let’s first take a look at the normal noises steering wheels make when you turn them:
- Locking steering wheel
- The indicator on while steering
Locking Steering Wheel
If your steering wheel clicks, it is not always a bad thing. The steering wheel may lock and this is typically different from one vehicle to the next.
However, in most cases, the noise you hear is likely to be coming from a plate cover hitting the steering wheel as it turns or something else that relates to that specific area.
The Indicator on While Steering
When you have your indicator on and you turn your steering wheel, you are likely to hear a clicking sound as the steering wheel rotates back to its original central position.
The clicking sound you will hear comes from a cam in the turn signal that clicks every time it goes past the turn signal’s spring arm and you shouldn’t be alarmed.
Reasons Your Car Is Making Noise When Turning Steering Wheel While Stationary
Now, let’s take a look at the reasons your steering wheel makes noise when turning while parked. Here are the 9 main reasons, with more detailed information to follow:
- Worn out power steering belt
- Faulty steering rack
- Malfunctioning steering pump
- Insufficient power steering fluid
- Poor fluid quality
- Fluid leakages
- Impurities in the power steering fluid
- Faulty struts
- Low tyre pressure
Worn Out Power Steering Belt
When you have a worn-out, or even broken, power steering belt, your car is going to produce a sharp squeaking noise when you turn the steering wheel left or right during very low speeds or when in a stationary position.
The belt is the connection between the engine and the power steering pump. And, therefore, will require adequate lubrication from the power steering fluid to prevent it from wear and tear during your vehicle’s operation.
Faulty Steering Rack
Sometimes you may hear a clunking noise when turning the steering wheel while stationary, and this may mean you have a more severe problem at hand than just low steering fluid or a leaking steering system (which we’ll touch on shortly).
If you have not had your vehicle serviced for a long time, or you get into an accident, you may have a faulty steering rack.
The clunking noise from a faulty rack usually knocks in pauses when you turn the tires from one direction to the other. Repeated clunks typically indicate faulty struts.
Whenever your car has issues with its suspension, it will become very difficult to steer, especially when stationary or at very low speeds. The steering system relies heavily on the vehicle suspension to turn its wheels.
Therefore, faulty struts and improper suspension can cause strain to the steering system which could cause detrimental damage to its mechanics, and result in noise when turning steering wheel while stationary.
If your car is making noise when turning right but not left, this indicates that you probably have failing ball joints and the tie rod end has worn out. The clunking noise when turning steering wheel while stationary will be due to sudden weight shifts of the car as its tires turn.
Steering Pump Malfunctioning
As you will already know, the steering pump is responsible for creating sufficient pressure to support the power steering system. Therefore, if the pump has any sort of malfunction, there will be a problem with the steering system.
Although it is likely to not hinder the steering movement completely, damaged pumps can result in further mechanical issues such as torn steering belts. If this occurred, damage to the whole power steering system would also.
You may be able to notice the malfunctioning of the steering pumps when the wheel becomes difficult to steer and makes a clicking noise when turning steering wheel while stationary.
Insufficient Power Steering Fluid
Insufficient power steering fluid is one of the top reasons you may hear a whining noise when turning steering wheels when stationary. The majority of cars use a rack and pinion steering system, which comprises the circular steering that is connected to the gearbox through a metal rack.
This rack also has a tie rod to help convert the circular motion of the steering into linear motion and reduce the gear impact for the wheels to turn smoothly.
For the system to work without any issues, it needs high-pressure fluid lubrication through two ports on the piston’s sides. Not only does the fluid provide the necessary lubrication for the gears and column, but it also provides enough power for the piston to move.
Poor Fluid Quality
In addition to whining, you may a sharp grinding noise when turning steering wheel while parked. If you’re sure it’s not a grinding noise when braking, this symptom indicates that you use the wrong lubrication fluid.
In most modern-day cars, the manufacturers design them to use only specific lubrication according to the unique minerals that are ideal for lubricating the parts’ chemical compositions.
If you were to use the wrong power steering lubrication or one of poorer quality than required, you may cause damage to the entire power steering system, which will ultimately lead to the steering wheel makes noise when turning while parked.
Leaking steering pumps are another very common cause of noise when turning steering wheel while parked. The magnitude of the power steering fluid leak will, of course, determine the extent of the clunking noise when turning steering wheel while stationary.
As already described, low lubrication will wear the power steering belt, bringing about critical difficulties in turning the steering column, metal rack, and gears. You will be able to identify power steering leaks from the stains underneath your parked car.
However, it’s important to note that the fluid stains could also be from engine oil or brake fluids, therefore, check the steering fluid reservoir levels to rule out other automotive fluid leaks before taking any action.
Impurities in the Power Steering Fluid
The presence of any impurities, or even water bubbles and air, in the power steering fluid will typically reduce its ability to lubricate the power steering system as optimally as it should.
Therefore, the mechanical parts of the system will be subjected to tension, friction, and impact from pressure which will likely cause noise when turning the steering wheel while stationary.
The best way to identify impurities is by monitoring and noticing a difference in the power steering fluid colour.
Low Tyre Pressure
Finally, ow tire pressure can be the culprit of a clicking noise when turning the steering wheel while stationary. Low tire pressure generally causes a car weight distribution imbalance.
Therefore, the steering system will begin to experience discomfort when you attempt to shift the tyre direction, causing extreme tension that will result in noises.
In addition to the tyre pressure itself, using worn-out tires or mixing different tire types can certainly affect and cause power steering problems.
How to Fix Power Steering Issues That Lead to Noises
The first step to fixing noise when turning steering wheel while stationary, is of course diagnosing it. You should be able to diagnose your problem in virtually any location. A professional mechanic is able to easily check your suspension system and steering system to see what may be causing the noises.
Then, based on their diagnosis, they will recommend what needs to be fixed or replaced. You may be able to diagnose and fix the problem yourself, especially if it is due to a mix-matching of different tyres, or the use of severely worn-out tyres.
For the fixing of noise coming out of your car when you turn your steering wheel while stationary, you should be ready to repair any component or capable of visiting your local car garage.
The steering wheel will make noises based on a number of complications arising from different parts of the vehicle, as has been discussed above. You can follow the following procedure if it is the power steering fluid that has depreciated:
- First, check the power steering fluid; the noise might be because it has run dry or it has leaked and is below the specific level it should be at.
- If the power steering fluid is low, check for leaks in all of the parts, vigorously, from top to bottom. You should get all the exact locations of where the leak is coming from to be able to avoid any leaks in the future.
- If any parts are oily, then the chances are that they are covered with the power steering fluid.
- Get a wrench and take out the old switch without damaging any other components.
- Replace with a new switch, fixing it up with a wrench from the bottom. This should hopefully be enough to stop the leaking effectively.
- Finally, you can refill the power steering fluid with the best brand you can get, or the power steering fluid recommended by your manufacturer’s manual.
If you have power steering noise issues and you find that your fluid is at a suitable level, it may be that you’ve either used the wrong power steering fluid or the fluid has impurities.
Below is an example of some power steering fluid readily available on Amazon. This Honda fluid power steering fluid is a best seller!
Either way, you’ll need to flush the power steering system before being able to fill it with fresh fluid as recommended by the manufacturer’s manual.
Unfortunately, the cause for these loud and irritable noises is not always identifiable on your own. Therefore, you may need a professional inspection from a qualified mechanic to know exactly which part to fix or replace.
However, for now, you can reduce the noise yourself by lubricating the mechanical parts of your car until you get to a car garage. It could be that any of the following parts need fixing or replacing by a mechanic:
- Power steering pump
- Ball joints
- Suspension joints
- CV joints
- Tie rods
- Sway bar link
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
Your car is making noise when you turn the wheel while parked for a number of reasons. Less serious, it could be just because the steering is stiff due to the colder winter months. However, on a more serious note, it could be worn out power steering belt, a faulty steering rack, malfunctioning steering pump, insufficient power steering fluid, poor fluid quality, fluid leakages, impurities in the power steering fluid, faulty struts, or low tyre pressure.
If you steering wheel is making noise as you turn it, you may have insufficient power steering fluid due to a leak, or poor fluid quality. If the power steering fluid isn’t the problem, it could be a malfunctioning steering pump, worn-out power steering belt, a faulty steering rack, or as simple as low tyre pressure.
Turning your steering wheel while the car is stationary is known as dry steering. When the tires move over tarmac while the vehicle is stationary, they are likely to suffer damage. In order to keep your vehicle in good shape, you will want to avoid doing this.
Please leave a comment below if you have a question about the noises when turning steering wheel while stationary!