Car Squeaks When Turning: 7 Reasons + Fixes

by Jennifer Porterfield | Last Updated: December 26, 2023
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Us car owners know that familiar feeling we get when a vehicle starts to misbehave. You hear a rattle or a squeak, and our first thought is, how much is this going to cost me to have fixed? One common problem with cars is the car squealing when turning.

If you’re wondering why does my car squeak when I turn? Well, this article will provide you with the 7 most common reasons why, along with advice on how to fix them.

Table of Contents

7 Main Reasons Why Your Car Squeaks When Turning

Squeaking noise from front wheel when turning appears to be a very popular problem with car owners. Here’s a list of the 7 most common reasons why your car squeaks when turning:

  1. Insufficient power steering fluid
  2. Contaminated power steering fluid
  3. Suspension or Steering Component lacks lubrication
  4. Steering wheel housing rubbing against interior trim
  5. Power steering and fan belt issues
  6. Bad shocks and struts
  7. Driving on a poor road surface

Now, let’s take a look at each in more detail!

1. Power Steering Fluid Low

The first, and maybe obvious, thing to check if your car starts to make a squeaky noise when turning the steering wheel is the level of the power steering fluid inside the system. Power steering is based on hydraulic pressure, and if the system springs a leak or the fluid otherwise drops too low, the steering will begin to feel less responsive and may start making a squeaking noise from front wheel when turning.

If this is the reason, the squeaking noise you hear will probably be coming from the steering column itself. Another good indication that insufficient power steering fluid is the problem is if you only hear the noise when the steering wheel is not turned, and when it returns to the center, the squeaking noise disappears.

If you’re lucky, the solution will be easy and inexpensive; simply open up the hood, check the power steering fluid level, and top it up as necessary. Once you’ve topped it up, try the steering again, and hopefully, all is good. However, if you top it up and the squeaking noise when turning continues, you might be better off taking your car in to have it looked at by a professional.

2. Contaminated Power Steering Fluid

If the power steering fluid in your power steering system becomes contaminated with dirt or anything other particulates, you could face issues like clogs. Tiny particles can break off bearings, seals, gaskets, and other components and slowly accumulate in the fluid. This can lead to the now unclean fluid clogging up the power steering system.

If the fluid was low and you topped it up but the noise continued, contaminated fluid could be the problem. You can generally tell if the fluid is contaminated by its color, it will appear darker than usual. In this case, you will probably need to take your car to the garage to have the fluid drained and refilled by a professional.

3. Suspension or Steering Component Lacks Lubricating

The moving parts within a power steering system also need sufficient lubrication, and if they are not properly lubricated, they will rub against each other when they move which may cause a squeaking noise when turning.

Some of the parts that require lubrication include tie-rod ends, seals, ball joints, and universal joints. Dirt and grit can also cause these parts to start making noises. The danger of wearing down parts is greater the more you drive and put pressure on the system. Therefore, you should keep an ear out for squeaking, crackling, grinding, and screeching noises coming from the suspension.

For most car owners without specialist mechanical skills, it will be difficult to resolve these issues without professional help, so, a trip to the garage is recommended.

4. Steering Wheel Housing Rubbing Against Interior Trim

Another culprit is if the steering wheel housing is rubbing against the interior trim. This is more of a common problem in newer cars, and the less expensive models which use inferior materials in their construction.

If you notice the problem more during hot weather, this is another indication that the rubbing is to blame. This is because, during this increased heat, the metal material will expand slightly and close the gap between itself and the interior trim, ultimately making them rub against each other when you turn the steering wheel.

If your car is brand new and you are able to put up with it for a short period, this problem will probably disappear on its own as your new car becomes “worn in”. You can also try adjusting the position of the steering wheel to see if this helps at all.

If the noise doesn’t disappear so quickly, or you are particularly worried about the noise, a quick trip to the garage will solve the problem. It is recommended to see a mechanic as the noise could be due to something else, and you need to diagnose any problems early to prevent them from becoming worse. The mechanic will be able to eliminate the sound and it shouldn’t cost you too much, either.

It’s important to understand that this issue will not only lead to wear and tear, but the constant friction can result in poor steering control which can ultimately put you and other people’s lives at risk.

5. Power Steering and Fan Belt Issues

Another problem related to the power steering system that can cause your car’s squeaking noise when turning is an issue with the power steering belt. This component’s role is to transfer power from the wheel to the steering system.

If this steering wheel belt develops a problem and becomes loose, not only will it make a lot of noise but steering may become difficult or even impossible, especially in the kind of situations when you need your power steering most. Therefore, you will need to get it fixed as soon as you can.

Along with the squeaking noise when turning steering wheel left or right, another clue is intermittent steering power or a kind of “slipping” sensation as you drive. If you experience this, it is strongly recommended to get your car to a garage at the first opportunity because a steering failure is potentially fatal.

There’s another belt that can cause squealing when turning, and this is the fan belt. These are designed to connect important parts of the car’s motor, like the crankshaft pulley, alternator, and cooling fan. This is a very important component of your car, therefore, you should act immediately if you suspect the fan belt has become loose or worn down causing the squeaking when turning.

6. Bad Shocks and Struts

Shocks and struts are important components for stabilizing your car as you drive. It doesn’t matter whether you’re accelerating, braking, turning, or driving off-road, sock absorbers will help you to maintain the control of your car.

One detail that typically separates shock and strut squeaks from other component noises is that you will frequently or continuously hear these squeaks. They have the propensity to break down if you constantly drive on rough terrain or if you’re always driving full-speed. Damaged or worn-out shocks can cause your car to lose balance and potentially crash.

If you need new struts and shocks, you can easily find replacements.

7. Driving on a Poor Road Surface

If your car is squeaking when turning, another possibility is nothing to do with the steering system at all but rather is due to your car tires squeaking on a poor road surface. If you find the noise only occurs when you are driving in certain areas or on certain surfaces, then you likely have nothing to worry about!

As drivers, we don’t always get to drive along durable asphalt roads. Sometimes, we will find ourselves driving against an overly rough or overly smooth surface. We may drive over uneven roads, putting strain on our tires, and causing them to squeak. Even the depth and tread of your car tires can play a big factor in your car squealing when turning.

If you hear squeaky noise when turning on smooth concrete, or similar, then this is a great example. It’s best to eliminate this as a possibility before you take your car to the garage – or you could be going home embarrassed when the mechanic tells you that the only problem is with the road surface.

How to Fix Car Squeaking When Turning

If you’re wondering why is my car squeaking when I turn and how do I fix it? Look no further! Fixing a car that squeaks when turning may be as simple as refilling the power steering fluid or applying lubrication to parts.

Otherwise, you may need to take your car to a mechanic for professional help. Here are some tips on how to fix car squeaking when turning.

Refilling or Changing the Power Steering Fluid

If there is insufficient power steering fluid in the car, you can simply purchase some suitable power steering fluid and refill it. It’s important to first check the power steering fluid inside your car and compare the color with the new fluid. Here’s an example of some suitable power steering fluid readily available on Amazon:

It may be that you need to flush the old power steering fluid out if it’s contaminated. When checking the old power steering fluid, if it’s darker than usual, then this is a great indication that it should be flushed. Here’s a great YouTube demonstration on how to flush and change your power steering fluid.

Applying Lubrication

Cars rely on a significant amount of moving parts in order to work. As they’re used more and more, these parts will begin to wear down and potentially break. This is where lubrication comes into play. Sufficient lubrication can help your key parts last a lot longer, by limiting the ability for the parts to wear down from friction.

If you can, try to add lubrication to every part of your car that moves. However, it may be best to seek professional help here, to ensure you know where to apply lubrication and don’t over-lubricate any parts.

Suspension Maintenance

If you’ve managed to diagnose that it’s the suspension causing your car’s squealing noise when turning there are a few steps you can take to reduce this and better maintain them. You should first try soaking the suspension area with some spray-on lithium grease for added lubrication. If rubber suspension is the problem, then use silicone spray instead.

If the suspension looks to be worn or significantly damaged, it is probably time to seek professional help and get the suspension replaced at your local car mechanic shop.

Seeking Professional Help

You may be able to hear the squeaking noise, but it can often be difficult to diagnose where the noise is coming from. Therefore, it’s best to take your car to a professional mechanic for a full diagnosis. Mechanics will be able to identify the issue at hand quickly and fix it.

With that being said, if you don’t already, you should have your car checked/serviced regularly so you’re able to prevent the squeaky noise when turning occurring in the future. This preventative maintenance can go a long way in prolonging your car’s life.

It’s advised to refill or replace your power steering fluid regularly, keep on top of lubricating moving parts, conduct regular inspections on parts, and replace them if necessary.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Why does my car squeak when turning?

If you notice your car has started making a squeaking sound when turning, there are many reasons. It could be due to a lack of lubrication in the suspension, insufficient or contaminated power-steering fluid, friction between the steering wheel housing and the interior trim, faulty shocks and struts, or simple due to the road surface.

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