7 Causes of Car Making Clicking or Popping Noise When Turning, Braking, Driving, Accelerating

When you’ve had your car for a while, wear and tear will take its toll. That means new noises will start to show up. If you’re dealing with a clicking or popping noise when driving, turning, braking, and accelerating, there are many possible reasons for that. 

Today, we are going to explore the possible causes for this clicking or popping sound when turning. This way, you can understand what’s going on, We will also teach you how to diagnose the clicking or popping noise so you can take proper action. 

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What Causes Clicking or Popping Noise When Turning 

If your car is making a popping noise when turning and driving, it can be worrisome. It can also be difficult to tell what’s going on. Here are some of the most common reasons for clicking or popping noises when turning. This way, you’ll know what to look for. 

The CV Joints Are Damaged

If your car makes a popping noise when turning and accelerating, it could mean a CV joint is damaged. The Constant Velocity joints work as the vehicle’s steering system. The joints are right at the end of the front axle and they allow it to be flexible so it can run the wheels and suspensions. 

When one of these joints breaks, it affects the flexibility of the axle, it causes grease to get behind the wheels and makes a popping noise each time the wheels turn. If that’s the issue, it’s important to fix it right away. Here’s a guide that will help you do that!

The Tie Rod Is Worn Out

If there’s a popping sound when turning, it could be due to a worn-out tie rod that’s close to breaking. If it breaks, it could be dangerous for you on the road. 

That’s why it’s a good idea to check whenever your car is making a new noise so you can address the issue right away. You can check out the tie rod for signs of damage by lifting the corner of your car. 

Hold the wheel at 3 and 9 o’clock positions while pushing and pulling it. When you do that, you shouldn’t hear anything. So, if you hear a popping noise, the tie rod is the culprit. 

The Struts Are Defective

Struts are essential to your vehicle’s suspension system. They work as shock absorbers thanks to their spring coils, and they support the suspension system in cushioning the impact from bumps, shocks, and jerks. That way, the structure of the vehicle and the cabin doesn’t have to absorb the shock. 

The struts rely on a cylinder that’s filled with gas or liquid and a piston. The gas or liquid provides resistance against the piston and absorbs a great deal of shock. So do the spring coils. 

When your struts become damaged, stuck, or are defective in any way, they won’t do the job they’re supposed to. That means that your suspension system will become ineffective at absorbing impact from the road. This will lead to a popping noise coming from your tires. Not to mention, it can lead to damage to your vehicle. 

The Hubcaps Are Loose

If you hear a popping noise when turning, it can also be because the hubcaps are loose. The hubcaps are the plastic or metal cover on the lug nuts in the steering system. If they are loose, they are constantly wobbling and fluttering, which is why you hear a popping sound. 

Loose hubcaps will also cause a popping noise when driving in general, not just when turning. The sound will come from the inside of the vehicle’s cabin. A popping noise when accelerating may also be caused by loose hubcaps.

So, if that’s what you’re dealing with, make sure to check them. Here’s a video guide on how you can fix loose hubcaps. If you think you can do this on your own, it’s not a difficult fix. 

The Drive Belt or Its Tensioner Is Loose

The drive belt has an important job because it connects the alternator, air conditioning, and power steering to the crankshaft. It provides all these parts with power so they can function. 

The tensioners on the drive belt are what keep it tight so it can do its job effectively and efficiently. If the drive belt or its tensioners loosen up, it will tap against the vehicle. 

So, if you hear a popping noise when driving or turning coming from the wheels, this could be the reason. Make sure to check so you can tighten it up. If you want to learn how to tighten your drive belt, this video will help!

Your Tires Were Not Inflated Correctly

If your car is making a popping sound when turning, it could be because your tires have different levels of inflation. When your tires are not inflated correctly, the wheels will make a popping noise when driving and turning. That’s because they are irregular. 

However, this is an easy and inexpensive issue to fix. All you have to do is make sure all your tires have similar designs and specifications. Additionally, make sure the air pressure in all the tires is similar enough for them to be regular. 

A big part of car maintenance is making sure your tires are always in good shape. That means you have to keep an eye on them and replace them if they develop bulges or any signs of wear and tear. Here’s an easy guide on how to check your tires properly. 

What Causes Clicking or Popping Noise When Braking?

If your car is making a clicking or popping noise when braking, there are a few things you can check. Whenever your car starts making any kind of noise, it’s important to determine where it’s coming from. That way, you can take action and solve the issue quickly to avoid greater issues. 

Your Brake Pads Are Loose

Brake pads are designed to stay secured to the brake caliper seat. If the brake pads loosen up, they will jump up and down whenever you break. That means you’ll hear a clicking noise when braking, particularly at slow speeds. 

So, if you’re dealing with that, make sure to check the brake pads. If your brake pads need changing, this guide will help you do that. It’s detailed and it will help you determine if the brake pads need to be changed in the first place. 

The Brake Calipers Are Loose

The brake calipers are secured to their seat with guide pins and bolts that fit tightly through the bushings. This design is effective at keeping the calipers in proper suspension. That is key for the brake pads to make contact with the rotor so the car can stop when you brake. 

If the brake calipers loosen up, they will flop around leading to a clicking or popping sound when driving. To fix that, you’ll have to tighten the brake caliper bolts that are loose. This guide will help you do that if you want to DIY or you can take the car to a mechanic. 

The Brake Backing Plates Are Bent

Each of the brakes on your car features a backing plate that’s attached to the back of the brake. The brake backing plates are designed to protect the brake from dirt and damage. If the place is bent inward, it will rub against the caliper or rotor. 

So, if you’re hearing a clicking sound when braking, it could be because one of the brake backing plates is bent. This video on how to replace a brake backing plate will give you an idea of the process. 

What Causes Clicking or Popping Noise When Driving

There are several reasons why your car may be making a clicking or popping sound when driving. Here’s what you should pay attention to if you notice this new noise:

The Hubcaps

The hubcaps cover the lug nuts in your steering system. If they become loose, they will constantly flutter and wobble. So, if you hear a clicking or popping noise when driving, this could be the reason. 

The Drive Belt

The drive belt is an important part of your car because it provides power to the AC, alternator, power steering, and crankshaft. It features tensioners, which keep the drive belt tight. However, if they become loose, they may lead to a popping noise when driving. 

The Tires

If your tires are unevenly inflated, it’s not uncommon to hear a popping or clicking noise when driving. That’s why it’s important to make sure your tires are always properly inflated. 

The Brake Calipers

The brake calipers sit tightly in their seat thanks with the help of bolts and pins. However, if they become loose, the brake calipers will flop continuously. That will lead to a popping sound when driving. 

What Causes Popping Noise When Accelerating?

We already mentioned that popping noise when accelerating can be caused by damaged CV joints or loose hubcaps. So, please refer back to the section on what causes popping noise when turning. However, there’s another reason why your car may be making a popping sound when accelerating. 

If your vehicle is making a popping noise when accelerating, it may be due to unused fuel leaving the engine. When it does, the unused fuel will get ignited by the exhaust system and it will lead to sounds. That often happens when you accelerate hard. 

Because this unused fuel is escaping through the exhaust route, the popping sound when accelerating will sound like it’s coming from the center of the car. It can even sound like a backfire. So, you should get your car checked out by a professional. 

In case you’re experiencing lifter tick noisealternator noisebad wheel bearing sounddifferential whine noisecatalytic converter noise, car clunking noise we have got that covered too.

How to Diagnose Car Clicking or Popping Noise

Though we just discussed the most common reasons for a popping noise when driving, you must learn to diagnose. It’s not always easy to determine where the sound is coming from. Sometimes it may seem like the sound is coming from one part of the car, while it’s coming from another. 

Overall, clicking or popping noise when driving can be caused by:

  • Damaged CV joints.
  • Damaged or worn-out struts.
  • Damaged or loose hubcaps.
  • Loose or worn out drive belt or drive belt tensioner. 
  • Tires are inflated unevenly or are the wrong size.
  • Loose suspension.

Usually, when the popping sound is coming from the wheels, you’ll need to perform a road test. That way, you’ll see where the sound is coming from. But before you do that, make sure to check the vehicle to see if nothing is falling off. 

Look under the car to see if anything is broken. If you do find something, you have to fix that before doing the road test. You also must check tire pressure because that may affect the road test results. Now, let’s discuss how you can diagnose a clicking or popping noise. 

How to Diagnose a Damaged CV Joint

  • Push down on both the front and rear of your car to check if the joints are locked vertically. 
  • Start the car and turn the tires from lock to lock, from right to left. This will help you check if the joints are locked horizontally. 
  • Take a spin around the block and take turns to check if the steering wheel can go all the way. Listen for a clicking or popping noise.
  • Make sure to drive over potholes or bumps to see if the joints make a sound.

After the road test is done, prepare the car to check the CV shafts to see if you need to replace them. Park on a flat surface and put the transmission on park or 1st gear. 

Then, place wheel chocks around the rear tires and engage the parking brake so they won’t move. Raise the car with a floor jack. Take a flashlight and check the boots of the joints. 

If they are torn or the band clamps are missing, they need replacement. Grab the CV shaft to push it up and pull it down to see if there’s excessive movement. If there is, you should have your car checked by a mechanic. 

How to Diagnose Damaged Struts

  • Once again, you want to push down on the front and rear of your car. This will help you determine if the strut shocks are working properly. If the strut housing is dented, the shock will pop in and out of the tube.
  • Start the car and turn the wheels from lock to lock, right to left. Listen for a clicking or popping noise while the car is not moving. 
  • Take the car out for a spin and take turns to see if the steering wheel can go all the way in whatever direction. Listen for a clicking or popping sound. Pay attention to the steering wheel to determine if the wheels are moving in and out of alignment. 
  • Drive over potholes and bumps to check the condition of the strut shaft. 

After the road test, you should take a look at the struts. Once again, park on a flat surface and make sure the transmission is in part or first gear. Put wheel chocks around the rear tires and engage the parking brake. 

Raise the car with a floor jack and check the struts with your flashlight. If their housing is dented or leaking oil, it means the struts need to be replaced. Check to see if the bearing plate is separating and the mounting bolts to make sure they’re tight. If they’re loose, use a wrench to tighten them up. 

The next thing you should do is use a long pry bar to pry up the wheels and check for motion. If there is movement, it means the ball joint is worn out, the mounting hub bolts need to be tightened, or the hub bearing is damaged or loose. 

Lastly, you want to open the hood and check the mounting studs and nuts to the bearing plate to see if they’re loose. Put the car back down safely and get your struts replaced if you’ve encountered damage. 

How to Diagnose Broken or Loose Hubcaps

Take the car out for a spin around the block and make sure you take turns in all directions. Also, drive over potholes and bumps. While you do, listen for a clicking or popping noise. Additionally, you need to accelerate to 40 or 45 miles per hour. If your hubcaps are damaged, you will hear a clicking or popping noise. 

After the road test, you need to check the hubcaps. So, park the vehicle, put the transmission in park or first gear, place wheel chocks on the rear tires, and activate the parking brake. 

Take your flashlight and check the hubcaps for damage of any kind. Also, make sure they are properly installed. When they’re not, they will vibrate and it will lead to damage. You should also remove the hubcap and check the mounting tabs and inner ring for damage. 

After that, put the hubcap back. Make sure you do it properly. Then, remove the wheel chocks and take your car out for another test. If it’s still making a clicking or popping noises, there could be a crack in the hubcap. That means you should get it replaced. 

How to Diagnose Loose or Worn Out Drive Belt or Drive Belt Tensioners

For this one, you need to start the car and allow the engine to run for a moment before you throttle quickly. As the RPM goes up and down, listen for a popping or clicking noise. 

Next, you want to check the drive belt and its tensioners for signs of wear and tear. So, park the car, set the transmission in park or first gear, put wheel chocks on the rear tires, and activate the parking brake. 

Open your hood and use a flashlight to check the condition of the drive belt and its tensioners. Take the drive belt and pull on it while the engine is off. It shouldn’t move easily or beyond its width. 

You’ll need a partner to turn on the engine and step on the gas quickly. As the RPM goes up and down, watch the drive belt and its tensioner to see what they’re doing. If you determine they are indeed worn out, they should be replaced immediately. 

How to Diagnose Tires

The first thing you need to do is check the tires for abnormal wear. Then, drive around the block and make turns while listening for clicking or popping noises. The tires are meant to connect with the road because they provide cushioning when you drive. 

If the tires wear differently or are cupped, they may not connect with the road, leading to clicking or popping sounds. While you’re driving, check if the steering wheel is moving as if the tires are going in and out of alignment.

Also, go over potholes and bumps. If the tires are cupping, they will feel bumpy, as if there’s an issue with the shock absorber. Once the road test is done, park the car and raise it to check the tires with a flashlight. 

Put the car in neutral when working on the front tires, and take off the parking brake when working on the rear ones. You may also need to put it in neutral when working on rear tires, but it will depend on whether the car is automatic or manual. 

Rotate the tires and check for cupping. Also, look at the tread for wear patterns that would indicate an issue with alignment. If the tread is cupping, it means the shock absorbers are worn out. So, you’d have to replace them and the tires as well. 

How to Diagnose Loose Suspension

The parts on your car’s suspension system tend to wear out, especially if you constantly drive on rough roads. You want to make a visual check of the suspension, so grab your flashlight and check for damage or broken parts. If you do find damage or broken parts, you need to fix that before the test drive. 

For the road test, drive around the block and pay attention to any clicking or popping sounds. Make sure to drive over irregularities to check the condition of the suspension. 

Step hard on the brakes and accelerate hard after that to check for horizontal movement. If the suspension bushing is loose, it may not make noise, but it will move around on a hard stop and quick acceleration. 

Then, you have to check the suspension. So, park the car, put wheel chocks around the rear tires, and raise the car with a floor jack. Check the suspension system for damaged, bent, or loose parts. Also, check that the mounting bolts are tight. 

Next, you should take a long pry bar and pry up on the tires to see if there’s movement. If there is, make sure you determine where it comes from. If the wheels can move, it means the ball joint is worn out, the mounting knuckle bolts need to be tightened, or the hub bearing is loose or worn out. 

Then, open the hood and locate the mounting bolts to see if they are loose. If they are, tighten them up with a wrench. Lower the vehicle and talk to a mechanic to fix or replace whatever’s necessary. 

Conclusion

A clicking or popping noise when driving, turning, braking, or accelerating can be due to many different reasons. We hope today’s guide has cleared things up so you can fix the issue. There’s nothing better than a quiet car, so take action as soon as you hear a new noise. 

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