You know that something is wrong when your car starts to make a rubbing noise when turning at low speeds.
When turning, rubbing noises coming from the steering wheel indicate a faulty component in the steering system. It could also indicate a part in the suspension system that is worn out or damaged.
Knowing the speed at which the rubbing sounds occur can help you identify which part of your car has a problem.
Usually, if the rubbing noise occurs when steering at a slow speed, there are likely faulty components in the suspension system. This article helps you know what causes the rubbing noise and how to solve it.
Causes Of Rubbing Noise When Turning At Slow Speeds
Failing Steering Rack
The power steering rack works by transferring the rotation of the steering wheel to the wheels. It, in turn, allows you to turn right or left effectively.
Your car could have a mechanical, hydraulic, or electric steering rack. And if it gets damaged, the steering rack will compromise your ability to turn your car smoothly.
You will also hear rubbing noises, especially when you turn at low speeds.
Below are symptoms that can help you know whether the rubbing noise is coming from a bad steering rack:
- Burning oil smell
- Steering fluid leak
- The steering wheel feels tight
- Car wandering- from left to right
- Steering wheel shakes
Contaminated fluid is one of the reasons why the steering rack fails. Over time, the steering fluid accumulates dirt, affecting the steering system’s performance.
Contaminated fluid increases friction acting on the steering rack leading to its failure. It also damages your steering pump.
However, contaminated steering fluid can also indicate that the steering rack is worn out, and you should replace it.
If the steering rack is worn out from friction or corrosion, it will deposit contaminants on the steering fluid.
The steering pump can wear out over time. One way to know that the steering pump is worn out is when you start to hear rubbing noises turning your steering wheel.
Fluid leakages also damage the steering rack. A leak can occur anywhere in your steering system, such as tie rods.
The seal that holds the steering fluid at this connection point can break, leading to leakages.
Regularly check the state of the power steering fluid to ensure it is in good condition. While at it, check the steering fluid levels and fill it up if necessary.
In most cases, if the steering fluid is contaminated, a skilled mechanic will also check the steering pump condition and replace it when need be.
Seals need to be repaired to prevent further damage to other components. Have a professional repair major leaks since they could require replacing the entire steering rack.
Damaged Control Arm Bushings
It’s not unusual for control arm bushings to wear out with continued use.
Control arm bushing works by reducing vibration between your car’s frame and the wheels, enhancing comfort and handling when driving.
Therefore, if the bushings are faulty, you may experience discomfort while driving. You may also encounter rubbing noises underneath your car, especially when turning at low speeds.
Other symptoms include:
- Uneven tread wear
- Vibrating steering wheel
- Steering pull either to the left or right
- Banging or clunking noises coming from underneath your car
Loose lower control arm bushing. For the lower control arm bushing to work correctly, they must be tightly fastened.
Otherwise, it will knock into other parts, making rubbing and clunking sounds underneath your car.
Normal Wear. Sometimes the control arm bushing creates the rubbing sounds when turning because it is worn out.
Since the lower arm bushing is under stress, it gets damaged easily. And replacing it becomes necessary when your car emits rubbing noise.
Also, driving in uneven terrain takes a toll on the arm bushing, and it’s worse if they are not securely tightened.
The Rubbing or clunking sounds become louder while driving on uneven terrain.
Whether you seek professional help or DIY, ensure that you replace the worn-out bushings using quality ones.
However, professional help may be way better since they can also inspect the condition of the surrounding components and fix them if damaged.
Worn Out Struts And Shocks
If you’re turning at low speeds and you start hearing rubbing noises, it could be that the struts and shocks are worn.
Besides providing comfort when driving, struts and shocks also stabilize your car’s movement, crucial for your safety.
Driving with damaged struts and shocks can cause you to lose control and handling. Therefore, worn-out struts and shocks cause concern and should be replaced urgently.
That being said, here are other symptoms that show that your car’s shocks and struts are worn out:
- Abnormal tire wear
- Rough ride when you hit bumps
- Vibrations at the steering wheel
- Increased braking distances
- The vehicle sways when turning
- Leaking fluid
- Knocking sounds when riding over a bump
Struts and shocks are bound to wear out over time. Hearing rubbing noises when you’re turning your car indicates that you need to replace them.
While certain driving habits damage your struts and shocks, they are also heavily affected by the terrain you drive on. Riding on rough terrain can cause the struts and shocks to wear out quickly.
If you notice the symptoms mentioned above, you may need to replace your struts and shocks. And you don’t need a mechanic’s help to replace worn shocks and struts.
But it can be a dangerous phenomenon if you don’t know to go about it.
Power Steering Fluid Leakage
If the power steering fluid is leaking, there will be low fluid levels in the steering system. There won’t be enough fluid for proper lubrication, which enables your steering wheel to operate smoothly and quietly.
Therefore, if you are steering at low speeds and your car makes rubbing noises, the steering fluid is leaking. The main symptom of a steering fluid leak you can identify with is a trail of red fluid under your car.
A faulty steering pump can cause steering fluid leaks. Such a leak is often caused by broken-out seals, which can get damaged due to normal wear or contaminated fluid.
Bad steering hoses can also cause steering fluid leaks. Since they are exposed to a lot of pressure, they easily crack, causing the fluid to seep out.
Identifying leaks and fixing them earlier prevents further damage to other components of your car. If you notice that the steering fluid is seeping out, you can seal it using a stop leak agent.
However, it works better if the leaks are minor. For significant leaks, especially those caused by worn-out seals, it is recommended to replace them to prevent future leaks.
After replacing broken seals, ensure that you are refilling using the recommended fluid for your car.
Fluid Reservoir Issues
For the steering wheel to operate smoothly, all parts of the power steering system need to be well lubricated. If not, you end up hearing rubbing noises whenever you turn your car.
The noise may become worse at lower speeds. The steering system may fail to be adequately lubricated if the fluid reservoir is clogged, leaking or empty.
Here are some symptoms of a failing fluid reservoir:
- Difficulty steering the wheel
- Steering fluid leak
- Noises while turning a corner
The fluid reservoir can fail if it gets clogged, is empty, or has a leak. The best way to avoid such issues is to ensure that the fluid reservoir is serviced to identify problems earlier and have them fixed.
The steering wheel should turn quietly no matter how heavy a vehicle is. You also do not have to apply a lot of force to steer it.
Therefore, if you hear a rubbing noise when you turn your car at any speed, you should have your car checked and potentially serviced by a professional.
With comprehensive experience in writing exceptional quality articles and blogs about cars and related stuff, Daniel is one of the finest bloggers and a hardcore car lover we have. He is an ASE certified technician with an across-the-board experience of 10 years in the industry. He could not help tinkering with anything he got his hands on from a young age, which led to his remarkable career in the automotive repair industry.
When he is not under any hood, you can find him on the water or in the woods to pursue his passion for hunting and fishing. He has been writing for multiple sectors and is a regular contributor to several publications.
He currently owns a Nissan 300ZX TT and a Pearl Yellow but plans to upgrade it to 550 HP. His favorites include the Koenigsegg CCX and Lamborghini Diablo 6.0 VT, but for him, the Ferrari 360 Spider is one of the sexiest cars that exists to date.
Being an avid world traveler, he has spent most of his time analyzing the automotive markets, latest technology, and local favorites to enhance his knowledge base. He is currently living in North Caroline, where it’s all about food and coffee and, of course, cars.