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2016 Honda Civic has loose steering and makes knocking noises when hitting bumps

I recently leased a 2016 Honda Civic LX sedan, and I read at least a couple of reviews of it on MotorTrend, Car and Driver, etc., and these automotive magazines describe it has having a “sporty” steering feel. Unfortunately, that has not at all been my experience with this car. Right from the get-go, the steering felt extremely loose, vague, numb, etc. Especially when I drive on the highway, it is very difficult to keep it going straight, as if I hold the steering wheel in the center, the car will slowly drift leftward, and I keep on having to correct it toward the right to keep it going straight. In other words, there is absolutely no on-center feel, so the car essentially drives like an old, beat up clunker. There is also a loud knocking noise coming from the front right wheel whenever I hit a bigger bump, and no dealership seems to be able to figure out which component is responsible for the noise. I have taken it to 3 dealerships multiple times, and no mechanic seems to be able to find the problem, which is downright frustrating, especially since I don’t feel safe driving this car on the highway.

Your vehicle has electronic power steering. (drive-by-wire)

This system is so new, I can’t look up anything else about it.

You’re at the mercy of the dealer.


If you’ve gone to three dealerships for the clunking issue with no luck, then you need to contact Honda directly using the contact information in your owner’s manual. You also need to start looking up the details of the lemon law in your state, as you very well might need to use it here.

Concur w/the advice to give this problem to the dealer as a warranty job. See if you can find a spot with a bump big enough near the dealership where you can get that noise to happen reliably. Then insist on someone from the shop there come along with your for a ride, so you can show them exactly what you are hearing. BTW, a noise like that could be coming from other places and just sounds like it is coming from the right wheel. Make sure there aren’t any golf balls or coca cola cans rolling around anywhere inside the car or the truck. If equipped, take a look at the spare tire and jack too to make sure they aren’t moving around & making the noise.

Two common things that make a car fail to track straight down the road correctly

  • Tire problem – try rotating the tires to different positions, see if that has any effect
  • Wheels out of alignment – have the shop check the alignment

When my 1999 Civic was new I had similar problems with it. One thing I found on my own was that the steering rack had a threaded adjusting bolt with a lock nut around it, approximately halfway along the length (width) of the rack. Looser made the knocking sound worse; too tight made the steering notchy, with no on-center feel. I just experimented and got it set right. The service writers at the dealers appeared to not know what I was talking about.

At least two trips to two dealers were required. One found the front end alignment was out of spec and adjusted it. The problem persisted. The second dealer also found the alignment off, adjusted it, and its never had another alignment in over 170,000 miles now.

Yes, next step is to contact Honda - not a Honda dealer - in the manner suggested in your owners manual.

Ur civic has electric boost steering. Not hydraulic. And not fly by wire. There is still a steering shaft and knuckle joint. Rack bushings can be bad. Knuckle can be bad. Rack could be loose.

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The only thing I would add in addition to the electric steering which is like the old one finger power steering, is that the noise may just be a characteristic of the car. I have had three Acuras and every one had front strut noise from new. It can sound like a strut is loose but its just the way the suspension is built. It can be a little irritating for those of us that want no front end noise but that’s just the way it is. You’d have to have a mechanic listen to the noise though to determine for sure if its just a characteristic or something wrong though.

One of the folks here was a suspension adviser for Honda/Acura and from past discussions claimed they always get their suspensions wrong, so that may be all it is.