Clunking Noise When Turning – How To Fix This Annoyance?

by Conner Mckay

You are driving down the road and at the point to turn home and park your car, you start hearing clunking noise when turning? This is bad news, to be honest. But luckily for you is that you are at the right place because there is a lot to cover on this topic.

Hearing sounds or any symptoms from your car is a red alert for you as an owner. Why is this the case? This is the case because noises that are not normal can often indicate a problem. Sometimes these problems are big. While sometimes these problems are only to annoy you. Like the clunking sound when turning. You cannot know why does it appears until you investigate.

That’s why here, troubleshooting comes into play. But what is troubleshooting? Troubleshooting is mastery by itself. To troubleshoot, you need to understand how components work and communicate between them. By knowing this you will be able to tell the problem. That’s why you have to learn how to troubleshoot and learn how to solve your problems without paying big money to mechanics. But more on that in a bit.

What is important is that in this article, we are going to cover what is a clunking noise when turning. Then we will cover the reasons why clunking noise when turning appears in the first place. After we will learn how to diagnose the issue and the cost to fix the clunking noise when turning. So, if you are interested in learning more, follow along.

What Is Clunking Noise When Turning?

Clunking noise when turning is audible information that tells you that there is something wrong with your vehicle. It tells you that there is a problem with your car. This noise can be subtle but it also can be extremely irritating and frustrating to deal with. Why I’m saying this?

Imagine that until you reach your workplace you need to take 10 corners. 10 times during the drive, you will be afraid that the car could fall into pieces. And trust me, it can. Especially if there is something loose down under and in worst cases, you can be left without a wheel. The wheel can even overtake you if it pops off, and your car ends up on the ground with some serious damage done to it.

And you don’t want that. You don’t want to get your car all damaged and mangled up. This can result in thousands of dollars spent on repairs and fixes for this damage. And the main root of this problem was a ball joint. It’s a relatively cheap $5 part. So, beware of clunking noise when turning and don’t ignore this issue soon as it starts appearing.

That’s why you need to learn how to troubleshoot. Troubleshooting is mastery and requires some good input in mechanics and how things work. You need to learn how the components work between them and how to know if some components are under-performing. Then based on this symptom clunking noise when turning to learn which of these components could possibly have failed.

But you shouldn’t worry because we are going to teach you that in the following chapters, where we will cover the possible reasons why the clunking noise when turning appears.

Reasons Why Clunking Noise When Turning Appears?

As we mentioned above before you can troubleshoot these issues. You need to learn first the possible causes for this problem. You cannot build a house without a foundation. That’s not the way things go. First, you learn the reasons and causes for the clunking noise when turning problem. Then you move on to diagnosing the issue.

Now, let’s see the reasons why this problem of clunking noise when turning occurs. Then, we are going to see what are the ways to diagnose the issue and perform a repair if you can do so. So, if you want to learn, follow along.

1. Worn Out Ball Joints

Worn-out ball joints are one of the root causes of any type of noise when it comes to turning. When they are not in check, the tires squeal when you catch a corner with a high speed. Similarly to the old Hollywood movies from the ’70s and ’80s.

Problems with these ball joints are most pronounced on vehicles with huge body roll. Namely, SUVs, trucks, etc. You get my point. But what is the role of the ball joints?

The role of the ball joints is to connect the control arm and the wheels. Big trucks and SUVs have two control arms while cars have only one control arm which is the lower control arm. The control arms have ball joints at the end where they are connecting with the wheel hub assembly.

The ball joints have lube on them and a rubber cover, this rubber cover becomes brittle over time and breaks. Dust gets inside and causes mayhem. Which is increased wear and tear of the ball joint and replacement is necessary. So, when you hear a clunking noise when turning, check out these ball joints.

2. Damaged Tie Rods

Tie rods also get damaged and have to be replaced. These tie rods are mounted on each end of the steering rack. This means that there are two of them on each side.

There is an inner tie rod and an outer tie rod. These components are screwed together and then connected with the steering rack and the wheel knuckle respectively and help you when turning the car on a corner. What is worse is that these components know to wear and cause noises like the clunking noise when turning to appear.

They similarly have lube and when this lube wears off, they also start to wear prematurely and cause symptoms and problems.

What is good is that they are relatively inexpensive and don’t cost much to replace. They are also easy to inspect and check if they are shot and need replacing. But more on that a bit later.

3. Damaged Sway Bar Link

Older design vehicles that implement a body on frame design have sway bars installed. These sway bars have a role to reduce the body roll of the vehicle. Every vehicle has body roll while cornering. So, these sway bars are connecting both of the sides of the vehicle and make sure that it doesn’t go everywhere and make you lose control.

These sway bars are pretty much ditched on modern vehicles since they are using independent suspension. But, there are still some vehicles like pickup trucks and SUVs that are using them. What is worse is that these sway bars, at both ends, have sway bar links that connect the knuckle with the sway bar.

Similar to other suspension components. These links are lubed and with the time and miles. These links start to fail and develop issues. Most notably the clunking noise when turning. If you have a problem like this, then you need to jump into diagnosing the issue. But more on that in a bit after we cover all the possible components that can cause this problem to appear.

4. Worn Control Arm Bushings

The control arms are holding the wheel to the chassis of the vehicle. Without a control arm, your wheels will fall off and your car’s undercarriage get destroyed.

Control arms are extremely rugged and made out of high-strength steel in older applications. While on modern cars they are made out of high-strength aluminum. It is also worth noting that modern cars now have only one control arm which is the lower control arm.

Examples with two control arms can be still found in classic cars as well trucks and SUVs. But what is important here are the bushings. The control arms don’t wear as much, but the bushings on the other hand do.

There are usually three bushings per control arm in total, these are made out of high-strength plastic and are installed on each hole. Then there are big screws that go into place and make sure that the control arms are nice and sturdy.

What is bad though is that these bushings get dry rotted over time. Especially if the car is more than 20 years old. Thus, causing the clunking noise when turning to appear. You can change them, or change the whole control arm altogether. The control arms are quite inexpensive and it’s better to replace them than pay someone to remove and install new bushings.

5. Damaged CV Joint

Modern vehicles are using something known as a CV joint. Unlike previous designs that were using solid axles. The CV joint offers greater versatility and allows the motion of the wheel to be better when it comes to absorbing hits from potholes.

These CV joints are rods connected with bearings that implement a rather ingenious design. Even though this design was quite known from past millennia, it saw its first common application in the CV joint.

Nevertheless, these CV joints have rubber boots around them. And as time goes, they start to crack and let dust and other impurities enter inside. Making the bearings wear off prematurely and cause clunking noise when turning to appear. Also, other noises like squeaking are very common with this problem.

The solution for this problem would be to get a new CV shaft and replace the old one altogether. They come quite cheap as well. Costing from $150 to $250 each. The best is to replace them both if you are looking to refresh your suspension.

6. Worn Wheel Bearing

Wheel bearings also tend to fail and develop noises like whining or clunking noise when turning. But what is a wheel bearing? A wheel bearing is a component that lets your car roll freely.

Wheel bearings are installed onto the knuckle. These bearings are composed of a ton of steel balls that are lubed with special lube. It might be a good time to find wheel bearing repair shops near me.

If the vehicle has a ton of miles, then these bearings start to fail and develop issues. Whining noise will be present first when you speed up the car. But if the bearing fails completely, clunking will be there as well. It is worth noting that the wheel bearing is rarely a reason for the clunking noise when turning. But if nothing solves your problem. This is your last resort and checks if the bearing is any good.

You can do this by doing a wiggle maneuver on your wheel while the wheel is in the air. If there is play. Then replacing it would be your best bet.

7. Blown Struts Or Bad Strut Mounts

The struts can also fail and cause mayhem. This is why you need to worry about replacing struts. Why I’m saying this? This is the case because the strut in car is holding your whole suspension. If the strut fails and you’re experiencing bad struts, first you will start to hear some clunking noise when turning.

Struts blow the vehicle keeps moving, but what is worse is their mounts can fail. The mount is connecting the strut with the strut tower. These mounts get a lot of beating during their lifetime. And as they age, they develop a play that can result in a number of symptoms like clunking noise when turning, grinding noise. Depending much on the vehicle.

When you notice this sound, it is often advised to check the struts if they are blown. This is your first task. If they are then you need to replace them. If they are not check the mounts and if the mounts are bad, replace only the mounts. And you will be good to go. Why pay a ton of money when you don’t have to. This will guarantee that you will get rid of that clunking noise when turning.

8. Bad Power Steering Rack

The power steering rack is also one of the components that can fail and make your car develop clunking noise when turning. This can also happen if the power steering pump has gone bad as well.

The power steering rack works in a way that it pushes the hydraulic fluid when you turn the wheel which results in the wheels changing direction.

What is worse is that these steering racks know to fail and make some problems appear. Sounds like wining, clunking noise when turning. These sounds are pretty much a dead giveaway on a broken steering rack.

Also, when the steering rack fails, there are oil leaks onto the rack. These power steering fluid leaks are caused by the broken seal of the power steering. What is unfortunate is that these power steering racks are rather expensive to purchase. You can expect to pay up to $500 or even more in some instances for a steering rack only. Plus the installation cost which is also expensive.

9. Broken Spring

The spring can also break and cause clunking noise when turning to appear. This rarely happens tho. One in a million cases, but still this is a possibility to happen and cause you to face this problem.

If you are a truck driver, you can experience this stuff. Let’s say you overload the truck and big weight is transferred onto the springs. In this case, noises can be heard. Specifically clunking noise when turning. But enough on the reasons why this clunking noise when turning appears. Let’s discuss how you can diagnose the problem.

How To Diagnose Clunking Noise When Turning DIY?

Now let’s get to work and start diagnosing suspension problems and clunking noise when turning on your car. For this work, you will need some jack stands to lift the front end and secure it. This is only if you want to perform a full inspection. If not, enough will be to lift the wheel that you want to inspect.

What is important is to lift the car and see the condition of the wheel. Give the wheel a little wiggle left and right. This will tell you quite a lot about the wheel bearing that is inside of the wheel assembly. If it has a lot of play. Then you need to replace the wheel bearing.

Clunking Noise When Turning

Another thing to inspect is the ball joints. Check their condition. If the rubber is destroyed and greasy, it means that they are due to be replaced. Same with the CV axle. Check the boots and see if they are good. If they have developed leaks and the rubber boot is out of place then it’s highly likely that the CV axle is bad. If it’s nice and dry then it is ok.

The next thing to do is the control arm. For this to inspect you need to check if there are leaks on the bushings. If they are leaking then the probability to replace them is high. Also, some vehicles have an older style of bushings that do not have oil in them. So, to inspect these is to see their condition and see if they are dry rotted.

Also, not to forget on the steering rack. Make sure that is all nice and dry underneath. If everything is dry and don’t have play, then you are good. If not, replace the damaged pieces.

Cost To Fix Clunking Noise When Turning?

The cost to fix these issues is relatively low if you don’t have a broken steering rack. The bushings and ball joints usually cost a couple of dollars. A new CV axle will cost you about $250. A control arm probably will cost you about $150, wheel bearings are dirt cheap for about $50 to $100. What is expensive is the steering rack. These racks are quite costly and could cost you more than $500 to replace.

But all these prices that we mentioned are if you are doing this work by yourself. If you decide to do this at a workshop and try to fix the clunking noise when turning there. You can expect to pay $100 minimum and up to $1,500 max.

This is the case because not all work is cheap and some jobs require quite a bit of labor to be involved to get these things sorted out. That’s why search for the shop that will do this work on the cheap but will still deliver a quality result.

Do I Need Alignment After This Job?

This is a good question that is important to know. The answer is yes, you will definitely need an alignment after you do some work to your suspension. Why is this the case?

This is the case because when you do a part swap, you are ruining the alignment. The car will not be happy with the new component. So, an alignment has to be performed on the vehicle if you want to make your wheels run perfectly straight and without hiccups.

Clunking Noise When Turning

If you drive with bad alignment. You can expect problems like uneven tread wear on the tires and the wheel to pull on one side to be one of the primary symptoms. That’s why when you fix the clunking noise when turning, make sure that you make an alignment to make the driving experience perfect.

Can I Continue Driving As Is?

If you want to drive a clunker, you can. That’s your call, but if your wheel falls off in the middle of the highway, you cannot blame others that they didn’t warn you.

When you notice problems like this clunking noise when turning, it is important to react and try to solve the issue as soon as possible. You are putting your life and your passenger’s lives in jeopardy.

Clunking Noise When Turning Steering Wheel? – Facts:

  1. A clunking noise when turning your steering wheel should not be ignored as it could lead to a serious issue.
  2. The most common cause of the clunking noise is the steering shaft and U-joints, and other possible causes include suspension, power steering system, and sway bar.
  3. The first step to solving the issue is to look under the hood while someone turns the steering wheel from side to side.
  4. The steering shaft is made of metal and it connects the steering column to the rack and pinion or steering gear.
  5. There are universal joints (U-joints) on either end of the shaft that moves when your vehicle goes over a bump.
  6. If the U-joints are rubbing against the steering shaft, lubrication may solve the problem.
  7. If the steering shaft is damaged, it needs to be replaced before it separates and falls off while driving.
  8. A clunking noise at slow speed could indicate a suspension problem.
  9. A clunking sound at a normal speed could indicate a problem with the power steering system.
  10. A broken sway bar can make a clunking noise while turning and can be extremely dangerous as it will make you lose control of your vehicle.

Conclusion To Clunking Noise When Turning

In this article, we have covered quite a bit when it comes to the problem of clunking noise when turning. First, we learned what this problem is and what does it represents. As we noted, this means that there is something wrong with the suspension of the vehicle.

Then we have covered the reasons why this problem happens in the first place. Knowing this will be an extra helper in diagnosing the issue. What is important though is to pay attention to the bushings and ball joints. These are the most common reasons why clunking noise when turning appears.

Lastly, we focused on diagnosing the issues and we learned the ways that you can inspect these components to determine which ones are bad and needs replacing. After that, we covered the costs involved in this process. As we noted, these can vary and greatly depend on the component that is involved. For last, don’t forget to do an alignment after your repair.

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