Jeep Wrangler Clicking Noise When Turning – SOLVED

Have you recently noticed a clicking noise coming from the front of your vehicle? Is the clicking noise more noticeable when turning at a low speed, i.e. when maneuvering in a shopping mall parking lot? Does it sound like metal on metal contact? If you answered yes to any of these questions, we might have the solution in this article.

Clicking noises when turning can be caused by a loose Castle nut on your front lower ball joint. Ensure the Castle nut is torqued down to the proper specification. A worn out ball joint can cause similar symptoms.

In most reported cases, the vehicle behaved fine under normal straight line driving conditions, and no other symptoms were reported. There is no vibration or sensation feedback on the steering wheel. It’s just a troubling, annoying sounds heard when driving at low speeds, especially when your windows are down or the doors are off. Then it’s most audible.

Lets investigate a few reported symptoms

Jeep Wrangler Clicking Noise When Turning

As previously described the metallic noise was mainly heard at low speeds and when steering is almost at full lock. The clicks are most prominent when returning to center from a hard left or right turn. The noise can easily be replicated when stationary in order to demonstrate it to your mechanic or dealership. The clicking and popping will become more pronounced over time if left unattended to and possibly cause premature wear on other suspension components.

Clicking Symptoms

  • Metallic clicking
  • Low speeds
  • Only while turning

Possible Causes

  1. Crown/Castle Nuts
  2. Ball Joints
  3. Loose cotter pins

Loose Crown Nuts

Another cause of popping and metallic rattling is a worn out or damaged crown nuts. The function of a crown nut is to secure the ball joint bolt in place with the cotter pin fixed into one of its crown slots. Make sure the crown nut is torqued to spec since these can work themselves loose if you often drive on corrugated or dirt roads.

Bad Ball Joints

A bad ball joint will emit a metallic knocking sound as the suspension articulates over uneven surfaces. A worn out ball joint will cause excessive vibration and play in your suspension. The metallic clicking sound is caused by the shaft of the ball joint not being seated properly inside the knuckle housing. In most instances the joint itself is fine.

Dealerships will have you believe they will need to replace components such as wheel hubs, u-joints, or even your shocks absorbers. Insist on them first inspecting your ball joints and re-torqueing your castle nuts to spec, since this is a quick and inexpensive repair.

Loose Cotter Pins

The cotter pin is a simple component used to ensure the bolt remains secure and does not slip out completely. It consists of a thin piece of metal inserted through the hole and twisted to avoid it slipping out. Once this becomes too loose over time it will begin to rattle.  

Solution

Ensure all your ball joints are greased and seated correctly. The upper and lower ball joint nuts should be torqued to 70 ft-lbs (95 N-m). Ensure the Castle Nuts are torqued to factory specification. Also, ensure the cotter pins line up with the nut slots.  Inspect the condition of the cotter pins. If they are loose and bent badly, replace them. Loose cotter pins will rattle and pop which will drive you crazy.

Other Jeep Wrangler Clicking Noises While Driving

There are multiple components that can cause clicking noises on your Jeep Wrangler. If the noise is only evident when turning, you can narrow it down to a steering or suspension component. If the clicking noise is present while driving then it could be any of the below culprits. Sometimes something even as simple as a stone caught in-between your tire lugs can result in a clicking noise which will be in sync with driving speed.

Let’s investigate other possible causes of clicking noises.

Exhaust Manifold Blow

Your exhaust manifold can be another possible cause for the constant clicking/ticking noises. The noise is most audible on cold startup. The clicking sounds are synchronized with the engine RPM. The ticking noise is caused when the manifold bolts loose tension or sever completely. The causes exhaust fumes to escape at that area, resulting in a clicking or ticking noise.

Purge Solenoid

All Wrangler TJ models are fitted with a duty cycle EVAP canister purge solenoid.  The purpose of the solenoid is to regulate the rate of vapor flow from the EVAP (EVAPORATION CONTROL SYSTEM) canister to the intake manifold. The solenoid is attached with a bracket which is located in the engine compartment near the EVAP canister. The top of the solenoid has the word UP or TOP on it. The solenoid will not operate properly unless it is installed correctly.

In this instance, the ticking noise is perfectly normal and you can actually feel it clicking/ticking if you place your hand on the solenoid. The clicking solenoid shouldn’t be heard from inside the cabin though and if so, you will need to replace the Purge valve to rectify the problem

U-Joint

All Jeep Wranglers have SFA (Solid Front Axles) and 4x U-joints. They are located on each end of the front axle. The other 2x U-joints are located on the front and rear drive-shafts.

A bad U-joint emits an audible metallic clicking noise as it rotates. Once a U-joint lacks sufficient lubrication it wears out fairly quickly. There are tiny pin-shaped bearings inside the short cross-shaped joint that requires sufficient lubrication as it rotates at thousands of RPM’s under load.

It is not recommend driving your vehicle for extended periods with a bad U-joint since this may fail completely, causing possible damage to brake lines, the transmission line, or drive shaft.

Resources

Purchase replacement Jeep Wrangler U-joints here

Purchase replacement Jeep Wrangler Castle Nuts here

Purchase replacement Upper and Lower Jeep Wrangler Ball Joint kit here

Heavy-Duty Ball Joint Press and Removal toolkit here

High temperature Ball Joint grease here

Purchase a CV Joint replacement kit here

½ Inch Drive Click Torque Wrench

Conclusion

It’s hard to immediately identify which of the above components are responsible for the ticking sound since it’s usually only audible while driving and turning at low speeds. Your best option is to systematically work your way through each of the above mentioned components to inspect for obvious wear, looseness and lack of lubrication. The most common causes of clicking when turning on Wranglers are bad ball joints, loose cotter pins and cotter nuts not torqued to factory specification.

Jade C.

4-Wheel drives and off-road driving techniques has been my passion for over 20 years. Here we strive to provide the most accurate, up-to-date, information about the functionality, common faults and latest technology built into most 4 Wheel Drives.

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