Dear Tom,

My 2003 Chevy Cavalier makes a clicking sound in the front when I make a right turn. It doesn't do it when I turn left. Should I be concerned? What could cause this noise?

Larry from Detroit

Larry,

My first thought ... your car probably has a bad front CV joint. Get the vehicle into a shop and have them check the CV joint on the side of the car where the clicking occurs.

Tom

After I responded to Larry, I thought a little deeper about his problem and sent him a follow up e-mail. There are many possible conditions that would cause a clicking sound.

Besides a bad CV joint, what else could cause clicking in the front end when turning?

  • Loose Brake Pads
  • Loose Brake Calipers
  • Bent Brake Backing Plates
  • A Loose or Cracked Wheel
  • A Rock Stuck in Between the Wheel and Brake Caliper
  • Loose Hub Caps

Loose Brake Pads

The design of the brake pads assures that they are secured to the brake caliper seat. If they come loose then the pad is allowed to jump up and down when the brake is applied. This action produces a clicking sound when driving slowly or when braking while driving at a slow speed.

Loose Brake Calipers

Brake calipers are secured to their seat with bolts and guide pins that fit firmly through bushings. This design keeps the caliper suspended properly so that the brake pads make contact with the rotor, and the vehicle stops when they are applied. A loose caliper will flop around and make a clicking sound that emanates from that wheel.

Bent Brake Backing Plates

Each brake has a backing plate attached to the back of it. This plate protects the brake from road dirt and prevents damage from projectiles. If the plate is bent inward, it will rub against the rotor or caliper and cause a clicking sound.

A Loose or Cracked Wheel

A wheel with loose lug nuts will click and rub or grind. A wheel with a crack in it will click. This is more common with steel wheels.

A Rock Stuck in Between the Wheel and Brake Caliper

If a rock gets stuck in the tight area between the wheel and brake caliper, it can click or grind.

Loose Hub Caps

A loose hubcap will click at slow speeds when the wheel flexes as it turns.

Read More Stories from Tom Torbjornsen:

- How Long Can You Drive On A "Donut" Tire?
- Oil Changes: Where Should I Get Them Done?
- ABS 101