Identify the Popping and Clicking Sound in Your Car SIA Cambridge

Imagine driving down a deserted highway, and you start to hear popping and clicking in your car. For some of us, this is worse than things that go BUMP in the night! And why do these strange sounds start when we are far from home or driving at night or in a secluded area? Murphy’s law applies to cars too.

NOTE: You will always find experienced and trustworthy licensed mechanics in our auto repair services shop in Cambridge to guide you.

There are some sounds that emanate from your vehicle that you simply cannot ignore. Here are seven car noises that may foreshadow serious problems:

  1. A sound similar to a coin in your clothes dryer.
  2. Brakes that are squealing, grinding or growling
  3. A finger-snapping, popping or clicking sound when you turn
  4. A rhythmic squeak that speeds up as you do
  5. Howling or whining
  6. A rhythmic clunking, tapping, or banging sound emanating from under the hood.
  7. Squealing under the hood when you start up or accelerate.

Strange noises from your wheels can be very worrying. It only takes one serious wheel problem to make your car dangerous and even undrivable. The truth is that clicking and popping noises coming from the wheel should compel you to have your vehicle inspected immediately.

Even though the clicking or popping noise may sound as if it is coming from your wheels, the problem hardly ever originates in the wheels. The highly complex steering system in your car has many moving parts; any of these components could cause strange noises when things go wrong.

Common Causes

Many problems could result in clicking or popping sounds coming from your wheels. Here are some of the more common ones:

A popping sound in your car could come from the engine is “running rich.” If this happens, it means that your engine has too much fuel and too little air, slowing down the combustion process. When combustion isn’t happening with the right timing, the exhaust valve opens while the air-fuel mixture is still in the process of igniting. The explosion then causes a “spill” out of the cylinder, resulting in a loud popping noise.

If your car makes a popping noise when you turn, it could be your CV joints. (CV joints – or constant-velocity joints – are flexible couplings that connect the drive shafts to the transmission and the wheels.) To explain this further, each CV axle has an inner and outer CV joint. These joints allow the CV axle shaft to move up and down as your car drives over bumps. The outer joints pivot, allowing the front wheels to turn. When outer CV joints become worn, they can make a clicking, popping, or snapping sound, especially when the vehicle is cornering and accelerating.

Another reason a car can make a popping noise when turning is because of a damaged tie rod. Beware, as a damaged tie rod can be dangerous if you don’t find it in time and have the problem fixed post-haste. Lift the corner of your vehicle while holding the wheel at 3 and 9 o’clock positions, and push and pull it. If doing so produces the popping noise in the car, the problem is definitely with the tie rod.

A far less problematic reason your vehicle makes a popping noise when you turn is loose hubcaps. Your steering system’s lug nuts have a plastic or metal cover known as a hubcap. When the nuts become loose, your hubcaps will wobble, creating popping noises. These noises will be there whenever you’re driving and not just when turning.

The car’s struts help your suspension system cushion the impacts of driving. This vital part of your suspension system protects the structure and cabin of the vehicle from impact. If your struts are defective, your whole suspension system is in danger, and you will hear that dreaded popping noise when you turn. 

When turning, something as seemingly innocuous as incorrectly inflated tires could cause that pesky popping noise. Fixing incorrectly inflated tires is quick, easy, and cheap so you’re in luck if this is the cause, but you simply cannot take chances with your safety and that of your family or other passengers.  Ensure that all your tires have similar specs and design and the air pressure in them is similar and correct.

What to Expect

Replacing your CV joints could be expensive. Replacing it yourself will save you a fair bit of money, but it requires some serious mechanical expertise and time. It is a complicated job and is best left to a qualified technician.

A bad CV joint will vibrate. When the vibrations become excessive, the vehicle will be difficult to control, and your driving experience will be impacted negatively. Aside from comfort, the car becomes less safe. The only solution is to replace the CV joint.

Trouble Shooting the Noise

When you hear that clicking sound or popping sound, it’s likely you have a broken or worn CV joint. Test this by doing the following:

  • Shift into reverse
  • Turn the wheel as far as possible to one side
  • Step on the accelerator

As you are moving backwards in a circle, those popping sounds should get louder if you have a bad CV joint.

The bad news is that you will either have to replace the joint or the whole shaft assembly. The good news is that you found the problem before any serious damage was done.

When there are signs of damage to a CV joint, it should be replaced as soon as possible with a new or reconditioned part. Manufacturers recommend replacing the CV joints around 80,000km – considered to be normal wear and tear.

If you have heard these clicking and popping noises when you are driving, bring your car in to have it checked before it gets worse. These noises never really go away on their own.

Special Interest Automobiles is an auto service workshop in Cambridge, ON, and we provide a complete range of car services, from tire services and suspension services to detailing services and A/C repair services. We have been proudly, reliably serving Cambridge automobile owners since 1985. If you think you are concerned about popping and clicking in your car, contact us now to take a look at your vehicle.