2003 Chevy Cavalier making whining/groaning noise during turns

Hi there. I drive a 2003 Chevy Cavalier with approximately 75,000 miles on it, and it has always run exceptionally well. However, during the last couple of months it has developed what I would consider a lower-pitched “whine” or “groan” emanating from the front of the car when making a turn. Here are a few specifics:

-The noise is more pronounced on tighter turns and/or when moving at a faster speed. For example, doing a U-turn causes the noise to be very pronounced; turning into a parking space at a very low speed barely creates any noticeable noise at all.
-The noise seems to be worse when making a left turn than when making a right turn, however turning either direction can create the noise.
-The noise seems to have gotten slightly more pronounced over time–that is, it doesn’t seem to have been triggered by a single event such as running over a pothole.

I am not particularly well-versed in diagnosing car problems, particularly when it involves anything to do with the drive train (which is what I suspect here). Some rudimentary internet research seems to point towards a damaged or failing CV joint in one of the front wheels, although this has not been properly diagnosed. Thus, my questions are as follows:

-What is the likely source of the noise? Is a damaged CV joint the most likely explanation, or is this explainable in other ways?
-How serious of a problem is this? If indeed it is the CV joint, my understanding is that this is an issue that needs to be addressed promptly as it could quickly become a dangerous situation (some reports indicate that the wheel(s) might come off while driving).

I appreciate any help/responses anyone might be able to provide. Thank you!

What’s to say this isn’t a power steering issue? Check the power steering fluid.

The power steering issue was on my radar screen as well. However, I haven’t noticed any change in the way the car is handling (although my wife, who drives the car more than I do, claims she has). My understanding is that if the power steering fluid is gummed up or low, it will become increasingly difficult to turn the wheel–which isn’t what I’ve experienced.

Additionally, would a power steering problem explain the difference in the volume of the noise between making a left turn and a right turn?

FWIW, I had my car in for routine maintenance about a year ago, and they said at the time that the power steering fluid could stand to be flushed–however, I elected not to do it because I wasn’t seeing any performance indications that the fluid was not doing its job.

How about a power steering pump?!?

You can get under the car and look at the joints. If one is obviously exposed then go that route first.

P.s. I am not a mechanic.

The most likely source of the noise is the power steering pump.

If it makes the noise when you turn the wheel while parked, that’d tend to reduce the CV joints as suspects and point directly to the PS system…or possibly to a ball joint or tie rod end.

If it only makes the noise while rolling, that would tend to reduce the PS system as a suspect and point to the CV joint(s).

Pop the hood, have a friend turn the steering wheel, and see if you can locate the source of the noise. It’s amazing what you can determine by simply looking under the hood.

Post back with the results.

The PS pump is the only item that will Growl Groan or Whine in conjunction with turning. Check the fluid obviously…is it low? Is it foamy? If you see foam…you’ve got a leak…find it. Aside from foamy fluid, low fluid and or a leak…If you find the PS pump full and the fluid is not foamy…then its just the pump wearing out and telling you about it.


I have to agree that it sure sounds like a power steering pump issue. There will be no noticeable difference in the steering or handling with a noisy power steering pump. A good mechanic will more than likely diagnose the problem from about 100 yards out. It’s a very distinctive noise.