Steering Wheel Noise

I have a 2002 LW 300 Saturn wagon with 76,000 miles. Every time I turn the steering wheel, either right or left, it groans and moans, like Ebenizer’s XMAS ghosts. What would cause this?

This could be from dry bushings in the steering column, or it could be a sign of worn or dry ball joints, or it could be a low level of fluid in the power steering system, or it could be from a failing power steering pump, or…

Where exactly is the noise coming from?

I THINK it’s coming from the steering wheel or probably just in front of the steering wheel.

The steering wheel itself cannot make noise.
If the noise is coming from “just in front of the steering wheel”, that sounds like a problem with the bushings in the steering column. If that is the case, it is merely annoying, but not dangerous.

I suggest that you have someone else listen from outside the car while you turn the wheel. Also, lift the hood and have them listen under the hood while you turn the wheel. This could help to localize it.

Have the tie rod ends checked. My wife’s 98 Windstar started to moan and groan at 56k miles when the steering wheel was turned at low speeds. My mechanic used a needle fitting on his grease gun to lube the tie rod ends (no grease fittings) and they were quiet at 99k miles when the van was sold.

Ed B.

Thanks Ed B.
I’ll print this out and take it to my mechanic.

The noise might be coming from the clock spring for the air bag.

The clock spring is what makes the electrical connections between the wiring harness in the steering column and the spinning steering wheel. The clock spring is located directly behind the steering wheel.


I had considered this possibility, but all of the defective clock springs that I have heard made more of a “rubbing” noise, rather than moaning & groaning. However, I suppose that the clock spring is a possibility. As I suggested, the OP needs to localize the sound with the help of a friend.

I’ve had 2 of these "groaners " and in both cases it was the power stering pump. Check the belt first; if tight enough, OK, then loosen the belt and see if the pump turns over easily. If it does not you have a failing power steering pump.