Sometimes when you turn the steering wheel, you will hear a thumping noise and possibly feel a jerking action through the steering wheel. Several problems could cause this thumping noise.
One problem could be your “constant velocity joints” (or CV joints). A CV joint is pictured above. Your axle has a constant velocity joint built into it that maintains quickness of motion to the wheels when you turn your steering wheel. When CV joints wear out, they cause a thumping or knocking noise when you turn. The only good repair option is to replace the CV joint or axle assembly.
Another thumping noise involves the brakes. Usually occurring at highway speeds, you will hear this when you apply the brakes. It could be something you hear or something you feel. Many times, you see the steering wheel shake.
That usually means the rotors, which are a brake component, are warped. The rotors turn with the wheel as you drive. When you apply the brakes, the brake pads rub against the rotor to create the friction that causes your vehicle to slow down. If the surface of the rotor is not smooth or straight, it produces a thumping noise or a vibration.
While it is not a situation that is unsafe because the brakes could suddenly fail, it can be unnerving, particularly to a person who is not used to driving that vehicle and could cause that person to let off the brake when they shouldn’t which could cause an unsafe situation. The primary reason you should have that repaired as soon as possible is that it creates excessive wear on other suspension components which are very costly to replace.
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