Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

What is this sound?

Hi Car Talk,

I’m driving a 2000 Chevy S-10 pickup, 5 spd manual, with about 133k miles on. Truck has been great for the 11 years I’ve owned it.

I’ve had this problem for a while, and for some reason am only getting around to it now, as I’ve never directly asked a mechanic to fix it or diagnose it. I think because it didn’t seem urgent, and out of fear I’ll get the runaround on what it actually is.

But now, what was once just a sort of “groaning sound” when I turned the wheel, has now actually turned into some tightness in the wheel itself – especially if the car is cold or hasn’t moved in a while. Here’s a video clip of the sound: (link is safe, I promise)

I suspect it’s a problem with the power steering fluid system. I’ve been parallel parking for years, and don’t know if that’s what’s had an impact.

Before I go to a mechanic, does anyone have an idea of what something like this might be and also what I might need to expect to pay?

Thanks very much for any insight.

Sounds very much like a power steering problem. Have you checked the fluid level? A failing power steering pump will emit a groaning sound. Or the rack could be failing.

Any good mechanic can tell quickly what ails your steering. Go see him.

When was the last time the chassis was lubed? This S10 has grease fittings, at least my 2000 S10 Blazer still had them.

Ed B.

I agree with with @Docknick It sounds like a noisy power steering pump. First off, check the fluid level. Then, with the hood open, have somebody turn the steering wheel like you did in the video and put your ear next to the pump. It’s definitely a hydraulic type of noise. I think you can rule out a suspension component unless it’s binding so badly that it’s putting undue stress on the PS system.

Check the PS fluid to see if it’s low. You are probably running it dry. Refill to the cold level indicator and take it out for a drive with a lot of turning.

If that doesn’t clear it up…then the PS pump is going. Had you checked the fluid long ago when you said this started the pump may yet be good today.

Live and learn.


Yip, as stated above, power steering

My money is on the pump.
But, as everyone has pointed out, start by checking the fluid level.
If that doesn’t pan out, pop the hood, stick your head under there, and have a buddy turn the wheel. That should eliminate all doubt.

I’ve heard pumps groan in pain before, but this one has a character all its own.