Single Clunk When Turning

Single Clunk When Turning

A car in good condition would not make any noise when you take a corner. However, if you hear clunking or whining, something mechanically isn't right. Although some of these issues can be quickly resolved, some issues necessitate a deeper diagnosis.

Before the commotion transmutes into a critical issue, it is imperative to identify its source.

Multiple malfunctioning components may trigger a clunking sound only discernible during turns. Unraveling the underlying cause of the predicament may take a lot of work.

Let’s look at the possible causes of the single clunk when turning your steering and what to do about it.

Major Causes of the Single Clunk Sound When Turning

The following will guide you in identifying the source of this unusual sound:

1. Faulty Sway Bar Links

The sway bar links are engineered to prevent all four wheels from disengaging from the ground while executing sharp turns.

These bars minimize the lateral tilting or roll of the vehicle during aggressive turns. If you perceive any rattle or clunk noises emanating from the front of the vehicle, a defective or impaired sway bar link might be responsible.

The other telltale signs of dysfunctional sway bar links or stabilizer bars encompass suboptimal steering response, imprecise steering or free play in the steering wheel, and substandard vehicle maneuverability.

2. Broken Ball Joints

The ball joints link the wheel hubs to the suspension mechanisms. Depending on the structure, these joints may serve as load-bearing constituents.

Regardless, fractured ball joints necessitate prompt intervention. There is an imminent peril of front suspension collapse when these joints have exhausted their breaking point.

The manifestations of damaged or broken ball joints encompass an assortment of eerie noises when accelerating and turning the vehicle.

Additionally, the steering may feel weighty while turning, or you may perceive clunking or grinding sounds emanating from the front of the vehicle. It may even lead to vibrations in the steering wheel.

3. Broken CV Joints

All front-wheel drive vehicles are equipped with constant velocity joints or CV joints. These joints are affixed to the front drive shaft's inner and outer extremities.

The inner CV joints interconnect the drive shaft with the transmission, while the outer CV joint links the drive shaft to the wheels. This highlights the crucial role played by CV joints in a vehicle.

CV joints are engineered to last for an extended period. In most cases, replacement may not be necessary, mainly if you acquire a new vehicle every four or five years.

However, the protective boot in the CV joint may incur damage, leading to predicaments when the steering wheel produces grinding or clunking noises (especially at low speeds or when parking), the CV joints should be the first port of call for an inspection.

4. Bad Tie Rods

Frayed tie rod ends will likely elicit a knocking sound upon turning the wheel. These ends facilitate the connection of the steering rack to the steering knuckle in the front wheels.

When the steering wheel is turned, the tie rods will either propel or tug the front wheels, permitting them to rotate in the appropriate direction.

Moreover, worn-out tie rods may cause the steering to feel imprecise or unresponsive, coupled with a creaking sound when the steering wheel is turned.

The tie rods are designed to endure as they need to be robust enough to withstand damage caused by road bumps, cracks, and potholes.

5. Damaged Suspension Bushings

The suspension system in your car incorporates a plethora of bushings that rest underneath it. Over time, the bushings can deteriorate or malfunction, primarily if you routinely drive on poorly maintained or unpaved roads.

Depending on the suspension system design, the bushings can range from small to large or a combination of both.

Broken suspension bushings are the result of usual wear and tear. When the steering wheel is turned, the bushings emit a metal-to-metal clunking sound, which becomes more pronounced when the wheel goes over bumps.

6. Old Shock Absorbers and Struts

Gas-type shock absorbers are commonly used in modern vehicles, while older cars or lower-end compacts may have hydraulic or fluid-type shocks.

If your vehicle experiences a rough ride quality and generates loud clunking noises from the front, this could indicate deteriorated struts or worn-out shock absorbers.

Also, checking the shock mountings on top for vehicles with MacPherson front struts is recommended. Defective or damaged shock mountings may also generate loud clunking noises.

To determine whether the shocks need replacement, a straightforward method is to lift the vehicle and visually inspect the shock body for broken casings or fluid leaks. If you observe oil seeping out of the shock body, they likely need to be replaced.

7. A Damaged Steering Rack

Turning the steering wheel is expected to be free of any harsh or jarring sounds. However, if you hear severe creaking or clunking sounds, it could result from a damaged steering rack. Additionally, the appearance of red fluid leaks indicates a power steering issue.

Examining the power steering fluid level is advisable since low levels can damage the entire system. In the case of electric power steering, inspect the steering rack for any unnecessary play or damage.

8. Or You Could Look Out for the Obvious

Before seeking assistance from a professional mechanic, conducting a preliminary investigation of your vehicle's interior would be advantageous.

This involves inspecting under the seats and throughout the cabin for objects moving around while in motion.

On numerous occasions, we have encountered instances where a vehicle has been brought in for an unidentified noise, only to uncover that the source of the disturbance was simply an empty water bottle or other unrelated item bumping around within the car.

While this might appear to be self-evident, it is frequently the case that individuals become overly preoccupied with potential issues, resulting in the most plausible cause being disregarded.

How the Steering Works

Your steering mechanism is a complex system of components working in tandem to turn your tires. The steering wheel is affixed to the steering column, which links up with the rack and pinion.

When maneuvering the steering wheel, the steering column rotates, propelling the rack and pinion in one direction. A tie rod end attaches to your vehicle's hub on either side of the rack and pinion.

There are rubber bushings at each point where two components meet to prevent any metal-to-metal contact that could damage these parts.

Yet, these bushings eventually wear out with constant use, leading to excessive movement and audible noises as the components shift around.

It's important to note that turning the wheel while driving exerts considerable force on your vehicle, which can cause various parts to move out of place, especially suspension components.

Is It Safe To Drive With a Clunking Sound When Turning?

If the clunking sound results from a faulty or broken shock absorber or steering system, it may compromise your ability to control the car under certain conditions.

Additionally, it's worth noting that vehicle makes and models may interpret clunking noises differently. For example, what may indicate a problem in a Honda may not be so in a Chevy or Toyota.

This is particularly true in older vehicles susceptible to various potential issues. For instance, automobiles equipped with double-wishbone suspension systems will produce a specific noise compared to those with MacPherson strut suspensions.

Taking the vehicle to the mechanic immediately is the best action to take in such situations.

Frequently Asked Questions

What causes a single clunk sound when turning?

The worn-out suspension or steering components, such as tie rod ends, ball joints, or control arm bushings, commonly cause a single clunk sound when turning.

Is a single clunk sound when turning dangerous?

A single clunk sound when turning can indicate a serious problem and lead to a loss of control over the vehicle, making it potentially dangerous.

Therefore, it is recommended to have the issue diagnosed and fixed by a mechanic as soon as possible.

Can a worn-out strut cause a single clunk sound when turning?

Yes, a worn-out strut can cause a single clunk sound when turning, as it can cause the suspension to shift and make noise when the vehicle is turning.

Can a single clunk sound when turning to be fixed by tightening bolts?

Tightening bolts can sometimes fix a single clunk sound when turning if loose bolts cause the noise. However, if the problem is due to worn-out components, there must be more than tightening bolts.

Can a single clunk sound when turning be caused by low-power steering fluid?

Low power steering fluid can cause unusual noises when turning the wheel, but a single clunk sound is not a common symptom of low power steering fluid levels.

How much will it cost to fix a single clunk sound when turning?

The cost of fixing a single clunk sound when turning depends on the issue's root cause and the vehicle's make and model. It is best to consult with a mechanic to receive an accurate estimate.