Click noise when driving

Tiny
NGB5548
  • MEMBER
  • 2002 PONTIAC GRAND AM
  • 6 CYL
  • FWD
  • AUTOMATIC
  • 150,000 MILES
I hear a random single click noise when driving coming from around the driver's side of the car. I am not sure what it is, but it happens sometimes when I accelerate, or when I brake, or when I am coasting, or even at a full stop. It kind of sounds like something engaging. I thought it may have been my transmission, but the normal click that you hear when you shift from Park to Reverse, and Reverse to Drive comes from somewhere totally different in my car. If it were gears changing, I would assume the noise would be coming from the same area. I can hear these clicks when my radio is off and the windows are rolled up. I can only hear the clicks from the transmission when the windows are rolled down and am switching between park and drive. Any ideas? I know I need new shocks/struts. And new brakes.
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Saturday, April 23rd, 2011 AT 4:28 AM

8 Replies

Tiny
NGB5548
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I meant to add that this just started recently.
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Saturday, April 23rd, 2011 AT 4:30 AM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
If it's shifting normally, you might be hearing some shift solenoids clicking rapidly to soften the engagement into different gears so the shifts aren't so harsh. That is normal, but if you haven't heard that before, you might look for a missing sound shield, usually made from foam rubber. The clue I'm going by is your observation that it's coming from the driver's side. An additional clue to look for is that it will occur for usually not more than one or two seconds at a time, and you'll hear it when you shift into drive or reverse.

If the noise doesn't seem to coincide with the transmission shifting into any one gear, figure out if you ever hear the noise while in park. That would allow you to stand under the hood and listen for the location.

There is a tool you might be able to borrow or rent from an auto parts store that borrows them called the "Chassis Ear". It is a set of six microphones, a switch box, and headphones. You clip the microphones to suspect points, then drive around while listening with the headphones. You can move the microphones around to zero in on the source of the noise. Be aware that many mechanics have never seen or even heard of this tool. Suspension and alignment mechanics use it to find rattles, squeaks, and other noises.
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Saturday, April 23rd, 2011 AT 5:54 AM
Tiny
NGB5548
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It doesn't seem to be coinciding with gear shifts. Sometimes it happens when I accelerate, sometimes when I brake, and sometimes when I turn slowly. It seems to be coming from begind the steering wheel beside the driver side tire.
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Saturday, April 23rd, 2011 AT 2:16 PM
Tiny
NGB5548
  • MEMBER
I have listened and determined the sound is coming from behind the steering wheel. It happens ransomly when I accelerate, turn, or brake. It seems louder after driving for a few miles versus right at the beginning of a trip. I got new tie rod ends for the passenger side recently.
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Saturday, April 23rd, 2011 AT 2:41 PM
Tiny
NGB5548
  • MEMBER
Also, the steering wheel is squeeking when I turn it.I just had my steering wheel fluid flushed, and I am wondering if the power steering pump is going out and that is the clicking I am hearing. The noise is inconsistent, and most noticeable in low speeds, especially driving through neighborhoods, etc.
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Saturday, April 23rd, 2011 AT 4:38 PM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
If you think the noise coming from outside, consider those Chassis Ears. If it is coming from inside, one thing you might look at is where the steering shaft goes through the firewall. There is a rubber seal around it that can get dry and cause a squeak. It doesn't quite sound like that's what you're describing but it's worth considering. Some older Chryslers had that problem and the fix was to simply use a hook to pull the seal back a little and spray some "Spray White Lube" in there. Almost any type of grease will work but that Spray White Lube stays where you put it.

GM does have a real big problem with their power steering pumps, but what you described doesn't really sound like that either. I'm more inclined to suspect a warped left front brake rotor that is making the caliper walk back and forth. That will make the pads catch on grooves that are worn into their mounting surface from rust. They will click when they snap free. That typically makes a louder clicking noise when braking but you will hear it too when not braking. To find that, jack the front wheels off the ground and run the car in gear, then listen next to each front wheel. If that is real bad, you will even SEE the caliper moving sideways a little.
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Saturday, April 23rd, 2011 AT 9:04 PM
Tiny
NGB5548
  • MEMBER
Thanks for the help. The only other thing I can think of is a bad cv joint. When I had my tie rod ends and tires replaced at Firestone, they commented on the fact that I will need new rotors and brake pads for the front. Also, they suggested new shocks/struts, but those are my last priority on this car. I will take it in to Meineke-the shop I usually take it to (not the one that suggested new brakes and struts), and let you know what they say. Probably won't be until a week or two out.
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Saturday, April 23rd, 2011 AT 9:18 PM
Tiny
NGB5548
  • MEMBER
I looked at the front left rotor when I got home today, and there is a groove in it. I think the pad is getting caught in the groove and causing the caliper to move. The noise does sound like something is engaging and disengaging, so this would make sense. It is also why I thought it was the transmission at first, until I determined that the noise is coming from the front left wheel/behind steering wheel area. Thanks again.
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Saturday, April 23rd, 2011 AT 11:58 PM

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