While I was driving recently, I began to notice a loud rubbing noise when turning at low speeds. This got me wondering what the cause of this issue was and how serious it was. What I learned helped me address my issue and figure out the best course of action to remedy it.
Rubbing noises when turning at slow speeds are commonly caused by worn struts and shocks, failing steering racks, and power steering fluid leakage. They can also be caused by damaged control arm bushing, worn brake pads or rotors, and bad CV joints. All of these issues can evolve into more serious issues and should be addressed as soon as possible.
This guide will provide you with more information on how to diagnose and remedy these issues to stop the rubbing noise while turning at slow speeds.
8 Reasons Behind A Rubbing Noise When Turning At Slow Speeds
Worn Out Struts And Shocks
Worn-out struts and shocks are common causes of rubbing and clicking noises when turning. The struts and shocks of your vehicle are vital to controlling the movement of your vehicle. When these components begin to wear out, you will often begin to hear a rubbing sound when turning left or right.
Worn-out struts and shocks can eventually cause dangerous driving conditions and should be addressed as soon as possible. Worn struts and shocks could potentially cause you to lose control of your vehicle while driving.
Other symptoms of worn-out struts and shocks include:
- Uneven tire wear
- Car not riding smoothly
- Constant vibrations in the steering wheel
- Leaking fluid
- Brakes not working effectively
The most common cause of worn struts and shocks is simply degradation over time. Depending on the terrain and your driving style, you may find yourself needing to replace your struts and shocks much earlier than usual.
If you begin to notice a rubbing noise when turning, inspect your struts and shocks and replace them if you notice significant wear or damage.
Failing Steering Rack
A failing power steering rack is another common cause of rubbing noises when turning. The power steering rack is responsible for transferring the rotation of the steering wheel to match the wheels of your vehicle. This will allow your wheels to turn left and right effectively.
No matter what type of steering rack you have, once it gets damaged, the steering rack could cause issues when turning. This includes a rubbing noise among other more serious issues. There are several symptoms of a failing steering rack which include:
- The smell of burning oil
- Steering fluid leakage
- Tight steering wheel
- Car not responding to turning
- Steering wheel vibrations
The most common cause of a failing steering rack is contaminated fluid. Once the steering fluid has accumulated too much dirt and grime, it will begin to affect the entire steering rack. The increased friction on the steering rack from the contaminated fluid will eventually lead to its failure.
Operating your vehicle while it is in this state can eventually cause major damage to your steering rack that could spread to other parts of your vehicle. Another thing to consider is that your steering rack could simply have reached the end of its lifespan.
You should regularly check your power steering fluid to ensure that it is clean and at the proper level. If the steering fluid needs to be changed or refilled, you should have a mechanic examine it and address the issue. You may also need to replace the seals, steering pump, or the whole steering rack.
Power Steering Fluid Leakage
Power steering fluid leakage is another major cause of rubbing noises while driving. When the power steering fluid begins to leak, the steering system will not be able to receive the proper fluid levels to operate properly.
Your steering system depends on proper lubrication to ensure smooth and quiet steering. If you notice that your car is making rubbing noises at low speeds, it is very likely that the steering fluid is leaking. The main identifying symptom of power steering fluid leakage is a trail of red fluid underneath your vehicle when parked.
Power steering fluid leakage is often caused by broken seals inside the steering pump. These seals can be damaged over time due to normal wear and tear as well as contaminated fluid. Leakages can also be caused by worn steering hoses and exposure to pressure.
You should inspect your vehicle for any leaks as soon as possible if you notice a rubbing noise while driving. A sealing agent can be used to temporarily stop leaks until you can get your vehicle to a mechanic.
For more significant seal breakages and leaks, you will need to have the seals repaired or replaced. Once you have had your seals repaired, you will need to ensure that you are using the recommended fluid for your vehicle to avoid issues in the future.
Fluid Reservoir Issues
Fluid reservoir issues are another common cause of rubbing noises while turning. Your steering wheel system depends on proper lubrication to ensure that it operates as intended. If there are fluid reservoir issues, you will notice significantly more noise while turning.
This noise is often much more noticeable at lower speeds and indicates that there is a lubrication issue somewhere in your steering system. The most common symptoms of a failing fluid reservoir include:
- Unresponsive steering
- Fluid leakage
- Noises while turning
If your fluid reservoir is clogged, empty, or leaking, you should have it serviced by a mechanic. They will be able to determine whether you can repair it or if you will need to replace it completely.
Damaged Control Arm Bushings
A damaged control arm bushing can also cause rubbing noises while turning. Control arm bushings are prone to wear out after extended use. The control arm bushing is responsible for reducing vibrations between the frame of your vehicle and the wheels. This makes the driving experience smoother.
Once the bushings begin to wear down, you will begin to experience a rougher driving experience. This includes rubbing noises while turning at slow speeds. Common symptoms of a damaged control arm bushing include:
- Inconsistent tread wear
- Steering wheel vibration
- Steering wheel pulling hard to the left or right
- Loud noises from under the car while driving
The most common cause of a damaged control arm bushing is a tightening issue. To operate correctly, the control arm bushing must be tightened properly. If it is not, you will begin to notice significant rubbing and knocking sounds underneath your vehicle.
Normal wear can also cause your control arm bushing to become damaged. This will be especially apparent if the lower arm bushing is under extra stress. If you frequently drive on rough terrain, you can expect the control arm bushings to wear much faster than normal.
To resolve this, you will need to replace your worn bushings with new ones. A mechanic can provide you with more information on the best course of action to address your issue.
Cracked Or Worn Brake Pad/Rotor
A cracked or worn brake pad and rotor can also cause significant rubbing noises while turning. A cracked brake pad can become uneven and rub against the rotor. This can happen even when the brakes are not currently being used.
The noise is more prevalent when turning because movements in the brake area will begin to press the pad to the rotor. Another common cause of brake pad rubbing is foreign objects like rocks finding their way between the brake pad and the rotor.
Any foreign objects will need to be removed as soon as possible to avoid scratches and further damage to the brake pad. You should inspect your brake pads for damage and foreign objects to resolve the rubbing issue.
If you need to replace your brake pads, you should do so in pairs. This will help ensure even wear and lower the chances of encountering issues in the future. You can take your vehicle to a mechanic or replace the brake pads yourself if you have the tools and know-how.
Bad Bearing In The Steering Wheel Column
Bad bearings in the steering wheel column can also cause significant rubbing noises while turning. The plastic on the back of the steering wheel can begin to rub against the cowling on the steering column, causing a significant rubbing noise while turning.
This is most noticeable while driving in hot weather due to the parts expanding. Bad bearings in the steering wheel column are commonly caused by normal wear and tear but can be accelerated by aggressive driving habits.
To resolve this issue, you should replace the bearing in the steering wheel column as soon as possible. This will ensure that the damage does not spread to other parts of the steering wheel column.
Bad CV Joints
Bad CV joints are another common cause of rubbing noises while turning. The CV joints are responsible for holding the drive shaft in place and transferring the power from the transmission to the wheels. When the CV joints become worn, you will begin to notice significant rubbing noises while turning.
Bad CV joints are caused by normal wear and tear as well as aggressive driving habits. Symptoms of bad CV joints include:
- Rubbing noises while turning
- Grinding noise while driving
- Unresponsive steering
You will need to replace the CV joints in your vehicle if you notice that they are worn or damaged. A mechanic will be able to determine the best course of action for addressing your CV joint issues.
Is It Dangerous To Keep Driving The Car While It’s Making A Rubbing Noise?
It can be dangerous to drive your car while it is making a rubbing noise. Depending on the cause of the rubbing noise, you could wind up in a situation where you lose control of your vehicle or the ability to turn properly.
This will cause unsafe driving conditions for you and other drivers on the road. That being said, if you have only recently begun to hear rubbing noises while turning, you may have some time before the issue becomes more serious.
It is highly advised that you have your vehicle inspected by a mechanic if you notice significant rubbing noises while turning. There are many different serious issues you could encounter while driving your vehicle while it is making rubbing noises while turning.
For example, brake failure is a possibility if the rubbing noise is caused by faulty brake pads or rotors. Steering failure is common when dealing with fluid issues, which will cause dangerous driving conditions. Damaged CV joints can cause a complete breakdown of the vehicle’s axle, causing dangerous driving conditions and costly repair costs.
Permanent damage to the steering column can be caused by bad bearings and unresponsive vehicle control can be caused by worn struts and shocks. Because of the possibility of these issues, it is important to address the cause of your rubbing noises as soon as possible.
Rubbing noises while turning can be caused by several different issues, including faulty brake pads or rotors, fluid issues, and damaged bearings or cv joints. All of these problems can eventually lead to unsafe driving conditions and should be addressed as soon as possible.
It is important to have your vehicle inspected by a mechanic whenever you begin to notice significant rubbing noises while turning. A mechanic will be able to offer you the best course of action for addressing your issue.