My Car Makes a Grinding Noise When Turning

By September 16, 2017Repair
car makes grinding noise while turning

We all know the feeling. You’re driving your car on the way to work or running errands, and all of a sudden you hear a noise you’ve never heard before. At first, you can’t tell where it came from. You might not even be sure it was from your vehicle. But then, as you continue to drive, you hear a distinct, strange sound that only happens when you do certain things with your car.

One of the common sounds drivers report hearing is a grinding noise that happens when the car is turning. Understandably, this is often disconcerting to car owners who want to make sure their car is in good working order and safe to drive before taking it back out on the road. Read on as we cover some of the possible culprits for this mysterious noise and lay out a few possible solutions that will ensure your car’s properly functioning and that annoying grinding noise is banished once and for all.

What are some of the potential causes of a grinding noise when turning?

car makes a grinding noise when turning

Car making a grinding noise when turning? There are several potential causes, each with different symptoms.

Before we go any further, we want to know what’s responsible for these sounds. Well, it turns out there are a few usual suspects that could be creating the grinding noise you’re hearing when you’re behind the wheel. They typically include the following:

  • A worn CV axle
  • Worn brake components
  • A power steering fluid leak  

Why do these problems cause a grinding noise when turning, and are they always a cause for concern?

Any kind of abnormal noise that a car makes is cause for concern. If the car did not make the noise to start with, then you should have it inspected.

A worn CV axle can cause what some people describe as a grinding noise. This noise is commonly heard on tight turns at slow speeds. When an axle wears, the joint no longer smoothly articulates. This in turn causes a grinding noise when it catches at a stiff spot.

Worn out brake pads will make noise when applying the brakes, but can also make noise when going through a turn. This is because the geometry of the suspension changes, which can also cause the brake pads to make contact with the brake rotor. The grinding noise happens when there is no brake pad material remaining and the metal backing plate contacts the metal brake rotor.

When the power steering fluid is low there is a moaning/grinding noise that is heard when turning the steering wheel. This noise comes from air bubbles in the power steering fluid. As the fluid moves through the system, the bubbles move and cause a noise.

Are there any signs to look out for that would suggest a specific issue might be causing the grinding noise while driving?

The easiest symptom to look for that will point to the cause is the direction from which the noise is coming.

  • A worn CV axle may also spray grease around the axle. In this case, there would be globs of grease just inside of the wheel. The noise from a worn CV axle can be similar to a brake grinding noise as far as position goes, but a worn CV axle will not likely make noise when applying the brakes.
  • With the CV axle and the brake noise, the noise will sound like it is coming from just one wheel.
  • With low power steering fluid, the noise will seem to come from under the hood and can also seem to come from the steering wheel.

How can we fix problems like worn CV axles, worn brake pads, and low power steering fluid?

The first step in fixing any noise is identifying where the problem is. All wheel drive cars have 4 CV axles, so after identifying which axle is making noise the axle is then replaced.

Nearly all modern cars have four brake rotors, eight brake pads and four brake calipers. After pinpointing the cause of the noise, the brakes are replaced as an axle set, which means front brakes or rear brakes. Once brakes make noise, the brake rotor must also be replaced.

Once a noise is found to be coming from the power steering system, the leak must then be located. The power steering fluid system consists of the power steering pump, power steering reservoir, power steering rack, power steering cooler, and multiple hoses. Any of these parts can leak and cause a problem. Once the leak is found, you’ll want to schedule an appointment for repair.

Are there any steps drivers can take to prevent these from happening in the first place?

The biggest step that can be taken to prevent these failures is to have regular inspections. At Alexander’s Import, we look out for signs of leakage and brake wear on every oil change.

The brakes, CV axles, and usually power steering fluid leaks do not happen overnight. They will show signs of wear or leakage before they get to the point of making noise. If cars are brought in for scheduled maintenance and issues are repaired at the recommended time, you may never hear noise from any of these parts to begin with!

36 Comments

  • Jerry Bernhardt says:

    Hearing a small noise near my front tire when I turn. Just started happening and doesn’t do it but very seldom. What could be the cause of the problem?

    • William Lender says:

      Hi Jerry, My first thought would be from a backing plate. There is a metal plate behind the rotor that can deteriorate and cause noise, such as you’re describing.

  • Jerry Bernhardt says:

    Just curious have a Hyundai Elantra grey four door 2008 with over 155000 miles on it. Getting old. Thanks for any info you can provide me.

  • Thanks for mentioning that a worn CV axle will cause a grinding sound when you make a tight turn at a slow speed. My brother’s Honda makes a similar sound, but only when he’s driving through the city at about 20 miles per hour. I’ll tell him to take it to an auto repair service so the axle can be replaced.

  • Emilson Phanor says:

    Hello. I just change my front rotors n brake pads all of a sudden I have a noise when I turned the steering wheel. it makes a noise like dirt is hitting a metal plate. Bmw 528I 2012

    • William Lender says:

      Hi Emilson, my first guess would be the backing plate. Many times they can get tweaked when replacing the brake rotors. The backing plate would need to be adjusted away from the brake rotor to stop the noise. If it is something you take a look at, make sure the vehicle is cold because the brakes get very hot under normal braking.

  • Nachi says:

    Hi William,
    As Jerry said, even I am hearing the same sound when I am turning from my right wheel and I felt like my car brake is quiet soft and I have to give more pressure to stop the car. These all changes I felt after changing winter tires for my car.
    Do have any suggestions in this regards, thanks.

    • William Lender says:

      Hi Nachi, The brake pedal feeling soft can be dangerous. Sometimes the soft brake pedal is the beginning stage of a failure in the brake system which could end with having no brakes at all! The noise you hear could be related to whatever is causing the brake pedal to feel soft such as stuck brake pads, or it could be that something got moved while installing the winter tires, such as the backing plate or another part in the brakes.

  • Emilson Phanor says:

    Thank you William, I appriciate your insight and respond. I will have the person who change the rotors and pads look at it for me.

  • Janice Carla says:

    Sometimes the drivers hear grinding noise while turning the car. A worn CV axle, worn brake components, a power steering fluid leak are the major causes of producing a grinding noise. When the car makes any type of abnormal sound,it is a matter of concern. It must be inspected. A worn out CV axle creates a sound on tight turnings. A worn brake pad also creates a grinding noise while applying brakes. To fix this problem we have to first find out for what reasons we are hearing the grinding noise & then only we will be able to solve the problem. If the brakes are making noise we must replace the brake rotors.

  • Phillip M Barone says:

    I am hearing a grinding noise when I make tight turns, but it seems to only happen when it’s very cold outside. When the weather warms up, the grinding noise goes away. Do you think this is a fluid related issue?

    • William Lender says:

      Hi Phillip, it is possibly a fluid issue, but I would expect if the fluid was bad that you would also experience a noise when the car is running, not just when turning. When the car is cold everything contracts and is closer together. You may have an issue somewhere in the brakes or suspension system that is causing this noise.

  • Jacquetta Wade says:

    I just got an oil change on my 2015 Hyundai Electra and now my car is making a knocking noise when I turn and it seems to be running hard. What do you think it could be.

    • William Lender says:

      Hi Jacquetta the first thing I would check would be your oil level. Modern cars are very sensitive to having enough oil in them and this could cause both of your concerns.

  • Rebecca Smith says:

    Hello William
    My car is making a grinding noise in the front when I turn my wheel. It started just when I turned my wheel but is now a lot louder and does it now even when I turn a little bit . it seem to have started making little noises here and there after I had winter tires put on .now its all the time could it be my brakes or a. cv axle and is that pricey

    • William Lender says:

      Hi Rebecca, there are a few reasons why that might happen. Do you notice any other symptoms? Such as hard steering effort or the noise any other time? It may be something wrong with the brakes, or just a backing plate. Depending on what is needed will depend on the cost, some brake repairs can get expensive.

      • michelle says:

        It seems everyone specifies a grinding noise when they turn their steering wheel to the right. Mine happens when I turn my steering wheel to the left. Like most people we are low on funds so I’d like to prevent another setback. There does not seem to be any other sounds.

        • William Lender says:

          Hello, direction of the turn doesn’t change the possibilities of where the noise is coming from. It may still be any of the things above. Without hearing the noise it is difficult for me to guess exactly what you have going on.

  • Virginia Burns says:

    I have a 2005 Honda SUV, with less than 45,000 miles. I am hearing a grinding noise when turning.

  • Rams says:

    Hello William,

    My BMW 3 series car is making grinding noise when I slightly turn steering wheel to the right and it happens to come when I am more than 30MPH and after driving some time. Do you think this is related to CV axle issue? Recently the car front panel been replaced since then I am hearing this noise. Thank you for your valuable suggestion.

    • William Lender says:

      Hi Rams, If you have only been hearing the noise after the front panel was replaced I would suspect that is related to the noise. If one of the fender liners are not secured or another plastic piece is not secured it would give you that noise. Usually a CV axle will make noise even at slower speeds like when making a tight turn in a parking lot.

  • Theresa gamino says:

    When this happens the car seems to hesitate and my traction light comes on

    • William Lender says:

      Hi Theresa, I would suspect there is something wrong with the traction control system. When the traction control system activated there is a noise and often a hesitation. You should have the codes checked for the traction control system. This will give you an idea of what is causing the traction control to activate when it isn’t supposed to.

  • Kelsey Richards says:

    On my car, it sounds like the grinding noise is coming from my right front tire, or back right tire. It also does this with slow, small, sharp turns. My steering wheel also seems to shake more than normal at higher speeds. Would this mean an alignment is in order? Or should I check to brakes first?

    • William Lender says:

      Hi Kelsey, It sounds like you may have more than one problem. I would recommend checking the brakes, but also checking the tire balance. Usually the tire balance is what will cause the shaking and the brakes or backing plate may be causing your grinding noise.

  • Raj Sharma says:

    Thanks for sharing this article. Recently when I was driving the car, the unusual sound came when I pressed the brakes.Can you guide me what can be the problem?

    • William Lender says:

      Hello, if your noise persisted as you were braking the noise is likely from the brakes being worn out. You will likely need to replace the brake pads and rotors.

  • Nathan Asquith says:

    Hi I took a corner rather fast the other day and noticed a grinding noise that I thought was a flat tyre and the rim hitting the floor so I stopped and checked thought everything was fine so I carried on my journey and noticed if I take a right turn aggressively theres a grinding noise from the left wheel but not when I turn left? Anyone help me out with this?

  • Rui Carmo says:

    Hello,

    I have an Audi A4 Avant B8 2013, and i’m feeling in the steering when doing a sharp parking maneuver a clanking noise that i can actually feel in the pedals. It’s very worrisome. Good to mention that i only feel this when i first start the car and coming out of the parking, after this first time it seems it doesn’t happen again, but it does happen every time i start it. Any ideas?

    Thank you in advance!

    • William Lender says:

      Hi Rui, My guess would be that something is binding after the car sits. It could be in one of the axles like the clicking noise I talked about, it could be in another part of the drivetrain such as the differential, or it could be in the brakes. Any of these parts could bind when they first start moving and not after they get warmed up.

  • Natasha says:

    I have a 2005 expedition the noise I hear only comes when I make a right turn then it disappear. It stopped then came back both times after it rained. What could it be out of these

    • William Lender says:

      Hi Natasha, the fact that you only hear the noise after it has rained makes my first thought something related to the brakes. The type of noise it is would be important in diagnosing the problem, if it is a rubbing or grinding noise it is probably related to the brakes, if it is a clicking noise it is likely related to the axle shaft.

  • coral says:

    Hi there,

    I just bought a Ford Fusion and all of a sudden i began making this weird noise when i turn to the right. The funny thing is that i feel it on my pedals when it happens. I haven’t been able to figure out what it is and when i took it in to service they told me they had fixed it and that it was caused by mud flaps.. what else could this be?

    • William Lender says:

      Hi Coral, there are a number of different things that could cause a noise like that. If the noise is metallic it is not related to the mudflaps, it could be related to the brakes, exhaust, or drivetrain such as an axle. If the noise is not metallic it could be the mudflaps or related plastic covers under the car and around the wheels. It could also be related to the steering if it is a groan, moan or clicking noise. It would be best to have it looked at again.

      • coral says:

        i see! well i took into the show and they fixed the mudflats because they were very bent, but unfortunately it did not fix the problem and now its making it even louder. It’s really not a clicking noise or squeak. It is like a grinding noise. When the mechanic drove it last week the car did not make the noise at all! (go figure). I will be taking it in again to see if i can finally get it fixed.

Leave a Reply