CarTalk.com Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Saturn front end groan when turning left

Recently on car talk (July 10, 2010?) a Saturn owner called in and reported a groan in the front end when turning left (but not right). That’s exactly my problem, so I was really interested in their answer - but the one they gave sounded completely wrong. They blamed the groan on a CV joint. CV joint failures have always sounded like a mechanical rattle, or series of knocks to me, not groans. I only hear the groan if I turn left at speed - and the groan gets louder the faster I take the turn. Any ideas? (For my sake, I think these guys ought to be taken to stump the chumps on that answer so I can figure out what my problem is!)

Well, yeah, the usual CV joint fail is a loud clicking noise. But there are other possible failure modes. If it’s a CV joint, you’re fine. The worst that is likely to happen is a loud noise and the car no longer have a way to get power to the wheels.

But what if it is a wheel bearing where the worst that can happen is that the wheel will come off while you are cruising down the road?

I’d get it checked out.

The problem might caused from a dry lower ball joint.

When cornering, a load is imposed on the ball joint. When corning faster, the greater the load on the ball joint so it groans louder. A dry ball joint can make noise when turning in one direction but make no noise when turning in the other direction.

Tester

Thanks, guys - but the groan isn’t so severe that I’m worried about the possibility of catastrophic failure. And turns out after I topped off the power steering fluid (only a couple ounces, but it did belatedly discover it was below the Add mark), I took a hard turn today and didn’t even hear the noise. Hard for me to imagine that 2 or 3 ounces of fluid in the reservoir would make a dramatic difference - but my fingers are crossed. I’ll repost if the problem recurs…