Groaning noise when turning left in very cold temperatures

I have a 1993 Toyota pickup, V6, 4X4, with 226,000 miles on it. I bought it when I lived in Seattle, and it’s pristine. Apart from a few quirks it runs like a champ, though the bitter New England winters it now suffers through are slowly but surely chipping away at it.

One issue it has during the colder months is a tendency to make a very loud rubbing noise when I execute left turns on extremely cold mornings (when the temperature is below 15 degrees). The noise sounds something like ?errrrrrrrr, rer rer rer? and seems to come from the right hand side of the truck (though I could be wrong about that). When I’m going to work each morning, I make 3 left hand turns fairly soon after I start driving, the first two times the noise starts as soon as I turn the wheel and continues after I’m traveling in a straight line. In order to make it go away I have to bring the truck to a complete stop. By the third time I hear the noise it tends to end as soon as I straighten out the wheel. After that I don’t hear it again until the truck has been turned off for a few hours and the temperature has remained low.

This noise occurs regardless of how long I let the truck warm up, it only occurs on left turns and never on right ones. I never hear it when the temperature is above 15 degrees or so. I haven’t yet had conditions where I could see if the noise occurs while in 4 wheel drive because generally by the time I get someplace where I can put it in 4 high or low, it’s too warm to make the noise.

Any ideas?

- Chris

I could well be wrong but I suspect you have a worn steering pump. Is the fluid level up?

Has the fluid been changed since new?

One other culprit MAY be a worn wheel bearing.

The power steering pump, tank and belt were replaced about 2 years ago when I noticed they were leaking. Fluid was replaced then as well. I’ve checked the fluid level, and it seems correct when cold, but is low when hot, should I fill it in this case?

The worn wheel bearing is an interesting idea. I did notice today that if I just turn the wheel while the truck isn’t moving, I don’t hear any noise, and as I said before, when I stop, the noise stops and doesn’t start again till I turn, so it does seem like the wheels need to be turning…

Check the tie rod ends. When the tie rod ends on my wife’s 98 Windstar needed lubrication, during low speed turns (i.e. backing up or turning into a parking), the van would make a moaning noise.

Ed B.

If the steering fluid is up to the cold full mark on the reservoir dipstick it’s fine.

Fluid levels like coolant and engine oil should be at the cold mark when correctly filled. (Engine cold)

Unless there is some problem, the fluid level when hot does not HAVE to be at the hot mark.

If you find the hot levels to be OVER the hot mark, an inspection is in order.

One other subject which you likely know about is changing the front diff and transfercase fluids once a year whether used in 4WD or not.