Steering Wheel Rubbing Noise

5 Surprising Causes of Steering Wheel Rubbing Noise When Turning (Learn More)

A steering wheel may make a rubbing noise when turning due to worn-out bushings, low power steering fluid, loose or damaged components, misaligned wheels, or a faulty power steering pump. This noise can be concerning as it may indicate potential steering issues that need to be addressed promptly.

If your steering wheel is making a rubbing noise when turning, it is crucial to have it inspected and repaired by a qualified mechanic to ensure safe and efficient operation of your vehicle. Taking proactive measures to resolve this problem can help prevent further damage and ensure a smooth driving experience.

Issue 1: Worn Out Wheel Bearings

How Wheel Bearings Contribute To Rubbing Noise

Wheel bearings play a crucial role in the smooth functioning of your vehicle’s steering system. However, when they become worn out or damaged, they can cause a rubbing noise when you turn the steering wheel. Here are some key points to understand how wheel bearings contribute to this frustrating issue:

  • The wheel bearings are responsible for reducing friction between the wheel hub and the axle, allowing the wheels to rotate smoothly.
  • Over time, the constant pressure and heat can lead to wear and tear on the bearings, causing them to become loose or damaged.
  • When the bearings are compromised, they can create a rubbing noise that becomes more pronounced when you turn the steering wheel.
  • This noise is typically caused by the misalignment or grinding of the damaged bearings against the wheel hub or axle.

Signs Of Worn Out Wheel Bearings

Identifying worn out wheel bearings can help you address the issue promptly and prevent further damage. Here are some signs to look out for:

  • A persistent rubbing or grinding noise that intensifies when you turn the steering wheel is a clear indicator of worn out wheel bearings.
  • Excessive play in the wheel, where it feels loose or wobbles, is another sign of deteriorating wheel bearings.
  • Uneven tire wear, such as bald spots or edges wearing out quicker than the center, can suggest an issue with the bearings.
  • If you notice the steering wheel vibrating or shaking while driving, it could indicate worn out wheel bearings, affecting the stability of your vehicle.

Diy Replacement Tips For Wheel Bearings

Replacing worn out wheel bearings can help restore safe and smooth steering. However, it’s important to exercise caution and seek professional assistance if needed. Here are some diy replacement tips to consider:

  • Start by consulting your vehicle’s manual to understand the specific steps and requirements for your make and model.
  • Gather the necessary tools, such as a jack, lug wrench, socket set, and a new set of wheel bearings.
  • Safely jack up the vehicle and remove the wheel assembly carefully, ensuring you follow proper safety procedures.
  • Thoroughly clean the wheel hub area to remove any dirt, debris, or old grease before installing the new wheel bearings.
  • Follow the manual’s instructions to securely mount the new bearings, making sure they are properly aligned and tightened to the manufacturer’s specifications.
  • Once the new bearings are installed, reassemble the wheel assembly and lower the vehicle, ensuring the lug nuts are tightened to the recommended torque.
  • Test the steering system to ensure the rubbing noise is eliminated and that the wheels rotate smoothly without any wobbling or vibrations.

Remember, if you’re not confident in your diy skills or lack the necessary tools, it’s always best to seek professional assistance when replacing wheel bearings. Your safety and the proper functioning of your vehicle should be the top priority.

Issue 2: Misaligned Suspension Components

Connection Between Suspension And Rubbing Noise

Misaligned suspension components can be one of the key reasons behind a rubbing noise when turning your steering wheel. The suspension system is responsible for providing stability and control to your vehicle, helping it to absorb shocks and maintain proper contact with the road.

When these components are misaligned, it can lead to various issues, including rubbing noises when turning. Let’s take a closer look at the connection between suspension and rubbing noise.

Indications Of Misaligned Suspension Components

Several signs can indicate misaligned suspension components, which may be causing the rubbing noise when turning. Here are the key indications to look out for:

  • Uneven tire wear: Misalignment can cause your tires to wear unevenly. If you notice that the tread on your tires is wearing more on one side compared to the other, it could be a sign of misaligned suspension components.
  • Vehicle pulling to one side: When your suspension components are misaligned, your vehicle may pull toward one side while driving straight. This can also lead to steering wheel vibrations.
  • Steering wheel off-center: If you find that your steering wheel is not centered when driving straight, it might be an indication of misaligned suspension components.
  • Poor handling and stability: Misaligned suspension components can affect the overall handling and stability of your vehicle, making it feel less responsive and causing it to handle poorly.

Steps To Realign Suspension For Noise Reduction

To reduce the rubbing noise caused by misaligned suspension components, it is crucial to realign them properly. Here are the steps you can take to realign your suspension:

  • Consult a professional: It is recommended to take your vehicle to a trusted mechanic or a specialist who can diagnose the misalignment issue accurately and provide appropriate solutions.
  • Alignment inspection: The technician will inspect the suspension components, including the control arms, tie rods, and bushings, to identify any misalignment.
  • Adjustment and replacement: Depending on the severity of the misalignment, the technician may need to adjust or replace certain components. This may involve adjusting the camber, caster, and toe angles, or replacing worn-out parts.
  • Test drive: After the realignment process, it is important to test drive your vehicle to ensure that the rubbing noise is eliminated and the handling and stability have improved.

By addressing the misalignment of suspension components, you can not only reduce the rubbing noise when turning your steering wheel but also improve your vehicle’s overall performance and safety. It is advisable to address this issue promptly to prevent further damage to your suspension system and enhance your driving experience.

Issue 3: Low Power Steering Fluid

Impact Of Low Power Steering Fluid On Rubbing Noise

When it comes to the causes of a rubbing noise when turning the steering wheel, low power steering fluid is one of the most common culprits. Insufficient fluid levels can have a significant impact on the performance of your power steering system, leading to a rubbing or squeaking sound.

Let’s take a closer look at how low power steering fluid affects the rubbing noise and what indications you should look out for.

Indications Of Low Power Steering Fluid

Before we dive into the impact of low power steering fluid, let’s discuss some signs that indicate your vehicle may be running low on fluid. Pay attention to the following indicators:

  • Difficulty turning the steering wheel: If you notice that the steering wheel is harder to turn than usual, it could mean that the power steering fluid levels are low.
  • Whining or squealing noise: Low power steering fluid can cause the power steering pump to work harder, resulting in an irritating whining or squealing sound when turning the wheel.
  • Steering wheel stiffness: When power steering fluid is lacking, you may experience increased resistance or stiffness when attempting to turn the steering wheel.
  • Leaking power steering fluid: Keep an eye out for any signs of fluid leakage in the power steering system. Puddles or drips under your vehicle are clear indications that fluid levels are dropping.

Proper Procedure For Checking And Refilling Power Steering Fluid

To ensure that your power steering system is properly lubricated and functioning optimally, it is crucial to check and refill the power steering fluid regularly. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to do it:

  • Locate the power steering fluid reservoir in your vehicle. It is typically located near the firewall on the driver’s side, labeled with a steering wheel symbol.
  • Park your car on a flat surface and turn off the engine.
  • Open the hood and locate the power steering fluid reservoir cap.
  • Clean the area around the cap to prevent any contaminants from entering the system.
  • Remove the cap and check the fluid level against the markings on the reservoir. Ensure that the fluid level falls within the recommended range.
  • If the level is low, carefully pour the appropriate type of power steering fluid into the reservoir until it reaches the correct level. Consult your vehicle’s manual or manufacturer for the specific fluid type.
  • Recap the reservoir tightly and ensure that it is securely closed.
  • Start your engine and turn the steering wheel from lock to lock a few times to circulate the fluid.
  • Recheck the fluid level and add more if necessary, ensuring it is within the recommended range.

By following these simple steps, you can maintain the proper power steering fluid level and minimize the risk of rubbing noises while turning your steering wheel.

Now that you understand the impact of low power steering fluid and how to check and refill it, you can ensure your vehicle runs smoothly and quietly. Stay tuned for the next section on another common cause of rubbing noises when turning the steering wheel.

Issue 4: Damaged Cv Joints

Understanding The Role Of Cv Joints In Rubbing Noise

Cv joints, or constant velocity joints, play a crucial role in the smooth functioning of a vehicle’s steering system. These joints are responsible for transmitting torque from the transmission to the wheels, allowing them to rotate at different angles while maintaining a constant speed.

When the cv joints become damaged, a rubbing noise can occur when turning the steering wheel. Understanding the reasons behind this issue can help you diagnose and resolve it effectively.

Warning Signs Of Damaged Cv Joints

Identifying the warning signs of damaged cv joints is essential for early detection and prevention of any further damage. Here are some signs to look out for:

  • Clicking or popping sound: When turning the steering wheel, you may hear a clicking or popping sound, especially when making sharp turns. This is a clear indication that your cv joints are damaged and need attention.
  • Vibration while driving: Another warning sign of damaged cv joints is a noticeable vibration or shaking felt through the steering wheel while driving. This can occur at various speeds and may worsen when making turns.
  • Grease on the wheel: Inspect your wheels and tires regularly for the presence of greasy or oily residue. A damaged cv joint can result in leaking grease, which may accumulate on the inside of your wheels.
  • Excessive wear on tires: Uneven or excessive tire wear is often a result of damaged cv joints. If you notice one side of your tires wearing down more quickly than the other, it could be an indication of cv joint issues.
  • Difficulty maneuvering: Damaged cv joints can make it harder to control your vehicle, especially when turning. You may experience steering stiffness or a grinding sensation while maneuvering the steering wheel.

Steps For Replacing Damaged Cv Joints

Now that you’ve identified the issue of damaged cv joints, it’s essential to address the problem promptly to avoid further damage and ensure your vehicle’s safety. Here are the steps involved in replacing damaged cv joints:

  • Raise the vehicle: Use a jack to lift the vehicle off the ground and secure it using jack stands. Make sure to follow proper safety procedures.
  • Remove the wheel: Take off the wheel connected to the damaged cv joint, using appropriate tools. This will provide access to the joint and allow for inspection and replacement.
  • Inspect the joint: Carefully examine the cv joint for any visible signs of damage or excessive wear. Look for cracks, torn boots, or loose components. If the joint is severely damaged, it will need to be replaced.
  • Remove the old joint: Disconnect the cv joint from the axle shaft and remove it from the vehicle. Take note of its position and orientation for proper installation of the new joint.
  • Install the new joint: Install the new cv joint, ensuring it is securely attached to the axle shaft. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and use the appropriate tools for a proper fit.
  • Reassemble and test: Put the wheel back on and reassemble any components that were removed during the process. Lower the vehicle and take it for a test drive to ensure the steering is smooth and the rubbing noise is no longer present.

Remember, if you’re not comfortable performing these steps yourself, it is always recommended to seek assistance from a qualified mechanic or technician to ensure the job is done correctly.

Issue 5: Faulty Steering Belt Tension

How Steering Belt Tension Affects Rubbing Noise

The steering belt is an essential component in the steering system of your vehicle. It helps transfer power from the engine to the steering mechanism, allowing you to maneuver the vehicle with ease. However, a faulty steering belt tension can lead to a rubbing noise when turning.

Let’s explore how steering belt tension impacts this issue.

Signs of faulty steering belt tension:

  • Squealing or chirping noise: A loose steering belt can produce a high-pitched noise, resembling a squeal or chirp. This noise is more noticeable during sharp turns or when the engine is running at low speeds.
  • Steering difficulty: Insufficient tension in the steering belt can result in reduced power steering assist. As a result, you may find it harder to turn the steering wheel, especially at lower speeds.
  • Belt slippage: When the steering belt lacks proper tension, it may slip on the pulleys, causing a rubbing noise. This can occur when turning the steering wheel, making the noise more pronounced during maneuvering.

Adjusting steering belt tension for noise reduction:

To address a rubbing noise caused by faulty steering belt tension, it is essential to adjust the tension properly. Here’s how you can reduce the noise:

  • Inspect the belt: Begin by checking the condition of the steering belt. Look for signs of wear, cracks, or fraying. If the belt is damaged, it may need immediate replacement.
  • Check belt tension: Next, examine the tension of the steering belt. A properly tensioned belt should have minimal deflection when pressed down. If you notice excessive slack, it’s a clear indication of a loose belt.
  • Adjust tension: Using the appropriate tools, adjust the tension bolt located within the belt tensioner. Ensure that the tension is within the manufacturer’s recommended specifications. Be cautious not to overtighten, as it can strain the belt and other components.
  • Test for noise reduction: After adjusting the steering belt tension, start the engine and test the steering wheel for any rubbing noise. If the noise persists, it’s advisable to seek professional assistance to diagnose and resolve the issue.

By addressing faulty steering belt tension, you can significantly reduce the rubbing noise when turning the steering wheel. Regular inspection and maintenance of the steering belt will help maintain proper tension, ensuring optimal performance and noise-free steering. Remember, a well-maintained steering system not only enhances your driving experience but also contributes to your vehicle’s overall safety.


A steering wheel that makes a rubbing noise when turning can indicate several underlying issues. First and foremost, worn-out wheel bearings can cause friction and result in this noise. It’s important to promptly address this problem to avoid further damage to the steering system.

Another possible cause is a worn-out power steering pump, which needs to be evaluated by a professional. Loose or damaged belts can also contribute to the rubbing noise, and replacing them as needed can resolve the issue. Additionally, the steering column itself may be worn or damaged, leading to the noise when turning.

Lastly, low power steering fluid levels can cause the steering wheel to rub, highlighting the importance of regularly checking and maintaining the fluid levels. By understanding and addressing these potential causes, vehicle owners can ensure safe and smooth handling for their vehicles.


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