One of the most common questions I get is what causes popping noises when turning your front-end wheel. This is a pretty common issue for most people and in fact, it can occur with just about any car model. It’s not just limited to OEM (original equipment manufacturer) wheels either, which is why we need to dial in the cause and find the solution! and this article addresses that.
Front end Popping Noise when Turning Causes
The most common causes of popping noises when turning your front-end wheel are worn and bad cv joints, bad wheel bearings, loose tie rods, and ball joints, loose or bad strut mounts, worn control arms, and even a bent wheel itself. And you can be sure that if your popping noise is coming from the front end of your car then it’s probably the front-end components that are the culprit.
I would say that 99% of popping noises coming from turning your front wheels are due to bad CV joints. So my number one suggestion would be to replace them first. CV joints are responsible for taking the power from your driveshaft and transmitting it to the wheel of your car.
In other words, your driveshaft is pushing power out of itself and into the wheel of your car, and this is all being done by the CV joint.
What are CV Joints?
Constant Velocity Joints (known as CV Joints) are used in most front-wheel drive vehicles and are responsible for transmitting power from the driveshaft to your front wheels. A CV joint connects two rotating shafts, one of which turns at an angle (the driveshaft) and one of which does not turn (the control arm).
CV joints are different from other types of joints in that they allow the rotating shaft (usually a driveshaft, though sometimes a propeller shaft or output shaft on a rear-wheel-drive vehicle) to transmit torque through a variable angle, rather than having to turn at an angle.
Symptoms of bad Cv Joints
The most common symptom of a bad CV joint is a popping noise when you turn your wheels. A popping noise will be heard anytime you turn your wheel from any angle. The popping can range from a quick snap to a soft “crack”.
Wheel will not turn in one direction:
If your wheel does not turn properly, then it could mean the CV joint is damaged or worn out and needs to be replaced. If you hear the popping noise when turning your wheel, but it doesn’t turn, then your wheel bearing could be bad as well.
Can a CV Joint be Repaired?
In short, no, they can’t be repaired and need replacing. A CV joint is actually a ball and socket joint, so replacement joints can only be used if they are the correct part.
So if your CV joints are bad, I recommend taking your vehicle to the nearest auto repair shop and having them do the job to make sure you get quality parts. No matter where you go, make sure the person who does your repair is experienced, as a bad CV joint replacement can cause further damage to your vehicle.
If you are not confident in your DIY abilities and don’t want to risk damaging your car even more than it already is, we recommend finding a local repair shop that specializes in front-wheel drive vehicles and has experience replacing CV joint assemblies.
Can You Drive a Car with Bad CV Joints?
Well of course you can. But that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea! The reason why you shouldn’t drive with bad CV joints is that it can destroy your car and make your ride extremely uncomfortable. You should never drive with bad CV joints. it is also not safe to drive with bad CV joints.
What other things can cause the front end of your car to make a popping noise when turning?
- Worn control arms
- Worn strut mounts
- Worn strut boots
- Worn or loose tie rods or ball joints
- Bent wheel due to impact from hitting another object
So if you are hearing any popping noises when turning your wheels, then I would recommend taking your vehicle to a local repair shop and having them do the job. It will at least be safer than attempting to replace it yourself, and with so many other parts being subject to wear and tear on our vehicles today, doing so may actually save you money in the long run.
Robert Anderson is a world class motorhead who rebuilt his first carb at age 10, his first engine at age 15, and completed his first full hotrod build when he was just 18! Previously, he has ran a part warehouse, delivered pizzas, and managed the service department for a $20 million/year revenue dealership. Robert knows cars like few others and he is passionate about sharing his knowledge.