What Can Cause Noises from Under a Car

Power Steering Pump

When driving, the sound of straight roads, curves, and corners are different. When you turn, you may hear whining, squealing, clunking, creaking, or popping.

Driving a curve or corner demands the excellent coordination of dozens of moving and static elements. It’s difficult to pinpoint the source of loud noise, let alone correct it. This article includes common noisemakers, turning sounds, and possible repairs. Distinct sections of your vehicle can make different sounds when turning. You’ll also hear varying speeds of noise. Here is a road map to assist your diagnosis.

Low-speed noise usually indicates suspension or power steering pump issues.

Creaking, Clunking and Popping Low-speed noises indicate worn or cracked suspension joints. You hear metal on metal.

Whining. If the engine is whining, check the power steering first. It’s easy to hear with the hood open and the wheel turning.

Screeching, and whining noises during normal turning are symptoms of power steering system damage. Loose belts and low power steering fluid are easy solutions. If the belt is tight and the fluid is full, check the steering system. Ball joints, tie rod ends, rack and pinion, plus hoses and hose connections. A power steering pump that is low on fluid sounds like a combination between a sigh and screech. It also makes turning, especially at low speeds, a challenge. Low fluid indicates a system leak that must be repaired quickly. Usually a hose or fitting leaks, but sometimes the pump casing cracks. The longer you wait, the harder it is to discover the leak and the more damage the pump suffers. Sometimes the serpentine belt tensioner breaks, leaving it too loose to turn the power steering pump. A loose belt affects more than just the power steering pump. Replacing the tensioner and/or belt will fix the issue.

Power steering pumps do ultimately wear down, especially if they are frequently depleted. They are usually easy to replace. Before ordering, check the pulley because most new pumps don’t come with one. If yours is broken, you must order a new one.

Crunching or clicking sounds nearly always indicate CV Joint issues. In high-speed turns, crunching or clicking noises may indicate a differential issue, especially if the noise is coming from the back. High-speed humming is generally a wheel bearing issue. If wheel bearings are broken. They must be replaced to prevent noise, damage, and vehicle safety.




2) Engage 4WD

Slow tight corners with 4-wheel drive engaged can make you worry the front end will come off. Red light or stop sign especially. Your car groans, scrapes, skips, and crunches. It’s not harmful to the car, only frustrating that you forgot to turn it off.


The vehicle’s front end is agitated because around 60% of power is sent to the rear wheels and 40% to the front. The rear is pushing harder than the front.


The solution is straightforward. Disengage 4WD (difficult in older vehicles that must be moving) or straighten the wheels.




3 worn shocks and struts

Front struts are part of the steering system. Worn or loose strut mounts can cause moaning and creaking. Driving or turning may seem bouncy or loose.


Struts and shocks help stabilize and smooth the ride. Replacing the struts and/or mounts improves ride quality and safety. The ordinary backyard mechanic should be able to replace struts. Replace both front struts. If in doubt, hire a good mechanic.


See our post How to Quiet Noisy Strut Mounts for more information.




Worn ball joints



Wikipedia: Ball Joints


Ball joints, like hip joints, allow simultaneous movement in numerous directions. They are in almost every car. Ball joints easily connect steering, suspension, and wheels.


Worn ball joints squeak when the wheels revolve and get louder as they wear. You’ll sense steering wheel tremors and looseness.


Most factory-installed ball joints are sealed, which limits their lubrication.


Replace worn ball joints. If the ball comes out of the housing, the vehicle loses control.




5) Damaged or worn tie rod ends/boots

Knocking or clunking tie rods are heard during turning. Tie rods help to stabilize the front suspension. Torn rubber boots and wear and tear can cause loose steering and vehicle shakiness. This might happen at speeds as low as 20 mph.


Delaying tie rod end replacement will reduce tire life and cause front end alignment issues. It’s difficult to stay between the lines if the wear is allowed to advance too far.


Replace them as soon as you discover damage. Tie rod ends and ball joints are commonly replaced together. The decision to save money by leaving a partially worn part will end up costing more in the long term.




Front wheel bearing failure

Worn or broken wheel bearings make a rumbling noise that appears at one speed, then disappears. It could also generate whirring and grinding sounds when spinning.


You may also experience vibrations at high speeds, turning and braking.


Wheel bearings matter. After diagnosing the problem, replace them. A 60-mph wheel bearing failure might be disastrous.


Our articles have more details. Why is my car knocking? Why do my brakes grind?




7) Rack-and-pinion steering

They last a long time. The bad news is that they are costly to repair. Unless you’re sure it’s rack and pinion, rule out other causes.


The power steering rack and pinion turns steering wheel input into side-to-side movement to turn the front wheels. When it wears out, it whines when turned. Lower speeds and tighter turns. It may also boom following the turn.


The rack and pinion is lubricated by the power steering pump. The rack will likely leak as it ages, necessitating frequent power steering fluid top-offs. Power steering fluid may burn.


Before attempting to change your own rack and pinion, watch this YouTube video to learn what you’re up against.






8) Stabilizer Bar Issues

The steering column connects the steering wheel to the rest of the turning mechanism, allowing the driver to regulate the vehicle’s direction. It’s more sophisticated than the old ones, and it’s collapsible for safety.


If you hear a squealing noise from the steering wheel, you may have a worn steering column bearing or the steering column has extended or moved sufficiently to rub against the plastic cover under the steering wheel.


Using spray lithium oil on the upper bearing may help briefly. You’ll have to pull the wheel and replace the bearing.




Other Faults

Here are a couple more potential noise-makers.


Ice, snow, mud Build-Up. When turning, a rumbling sound could be ice or mud buildup. It’s worth letting go of any accumulated slop.

Turnbuckle. A knocking noise and difficult turning are signs of a worn sway bar.

CVC Joints Front-wheel-drive automobiles have CV joints. These are the likely causes of a crunching sound when steering at high speeds.

Wikipedia’s Animated CV




Repair it

Nobody wants to fix something with vice grips, a hammer, and a bent screw driver. Take your car to a reputable mechanic and have it fixed quickly. Before work begins, request a price and a warranty.


Even if you plan to conduct the repairs yourself, a business can help you with the diagnosis. This should help you avoid buying and replacing the wrong part.


The shop may not like telling you what to do, but they know you’ll mess it up and come back.




Waiting too long

The longer you put off fixing the turning noise, the more it will cost. Obviously, worn parts don’t self-repair, yet the wear seems to increase. Because lubrication is less effective, it is more abrasive.


And you will be driving in potentially unsafe situations for a longer time. Moving parts breaking is annoying. Some, like seizing bearings or ball joints, can be catastrophic.