Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Clinking/Grinding Sound Coming From Steering Column

I’ve got an 06 Nissan Frontier and whenever the weather is cold (40s and under) I hear a clinking noise that appears to be coming from the steering column or the dashboard. It usually gets better after I drive it awhile. It doesn’t seem to be affecting my truck, but it does have me curious. Any idea as to what this may be.

Do you feel the noise in your steering wheel? Is it more pronounced when turning and does it go away when going straight?

No, no vibrations and it doesn’t seem to make a difference how I drive. At first I thought it was my keys hitting the dash, because that is the type of sound it makes, but that wasn’t the case. This has been an ongoing thing for the past couple of years and I haven’t noticed any difference in how it drives. It’s just this weird clinking noice that happens in the winter.

It does seem to get better as the engine gets warmer though.

Pop the hood and see if it’s coming from the engine. Post back.

It only happens when I drive, so a little bit hard to check under the hood. My wife described it at sounding like two washers clinking together.

Can Somebody Help Me ?
2006 Nissan Frontier ?

There are no Nissans or Nissan dealers around here and I seldom see any, but I’m trying to help find an answer.

Frontier is not one of my choices i my helpful search location for 2006 Nissans.
Is Frontier a version of a certain model, like a Pathfinder or a Murano or a Titan ?


A Frontier is like a smaller Titan. It is Nissan’s mid-size truck.

Perhaps your intermediate steering shaft is worn.
If you pop the hood, can you grab it and check if it has a lot of slop?
I’ve worked on several GM trucks (small, full-size and even some class 7 commercial trucks) with sloppy intermediate steering shafts). You could heard and feel the clunking. New parts made a dramatic difference.
For what it’s worth . . .

I took it to the mechanic and was told that it is either the U-Joint or the Intermediate Shaft. If I’m stopped and turn the steering wheel a bit, it makes more of a grinding sount. But why would it only make the noise when it’s COLD? I can only hear it when it is below freezing.

That U-joint is most likely suffering from lube that has dried up or leaked out.
The remaining lube is okay once the car heats up a bit, but in sub-freezing temps, it is too stiff to provide enough lubrication. At least, that is my theory…

Sounds as good as anything I’ve heard so far. Is this something that I should get fixed immediately? I’ve been noticing this for a couple of years now, but haven’t been too worried about it until recently.

If that U-joint suddenly seizes-up, you will be unable to steer the truck, so in view of the fact that this problem has existed for a couple of years, I would advise having it fixed a.s.a.p., before the inevitable happens.

Most people seem to envision catastrophic component failure taking place in their driveway or another convenient place, but this is just as likely to happen on the highway, and surely you don’t want to be in the position of having a frozen steering mechanism while on the highway.

Thanks. I’ll try and get that looked at.