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Popping Noise - Front Wheel Area

Jtrader

Member
Nov 2, 2015
150
107
KY
When I back out of a parking space and turn the wheel sharply I hear and feel a loud popping noise coming from the left front wheel area. It only recently started. I have 30k miles on it. How concerned should I be? I live 100 miles from a SC; can a ranger fix?
 

The Duke

Member
Nov 17, 2016
516
440
I also get a pop when I back out of my driveway which is rough and has a curb into the street. I went to the SC and duplicated the maneuver to hear the sound. There was no pop. The ramp at the SC is smooth although at about the same angle as my driveway. I have tried a number of similar maneuvers and almost none give me the pop. I am starting to think it may be the tires coping with the turn, downhill angle and braking over the cracks in the driveway. It also might be the twist the body gets going over the curb at an angle.

I know this is not much help but may save embarrassment at the SC.
 
There are two common causes on the S that I know of that could make that sound in that location.

On earlier cars (particularly) the steering rack will click. This can usually be duplicated by rotating from lock-to-lock while stationary.

Another culprit can be the upper control arms. There's a bit of controversy as to whether or not they're beefy enough for the job. Anecdotally, I know of several other owners in my area who have had them replaced-- including my own car-- after normal use and what would generally be accepted as prematurely. Much harder to duplicate that problem if you're catching it early... but don't worry, it'll only get worse (and easier to repeat) if that is the issue.
 

The Duke

Member
Nov 17, 2016
516
440
21's are noisy, they have a drum effect going over sharp ridges or bumps. I have come to the conclusion my "pop" leaving the drive way is a combination of the rough transition to the pavement and turning. Once I noticed the sound on Nicki, I can duplicate it on Wifey's Camry, but to a much lesser degree.
 
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TaiwoEgun

Member
Aug 5, 2019
14
7
Atlanta
The popping noise eventually gets worse and you’ll need to get the steering rack replaced. I’m not sure what caused it but Tesla is telling me I hit something. I also have over 30k miles and the steering rack is about 2750+750 in labor. Not cheap. Just one day the steering wheel turned after I summoned it out of the parking spot with the popping sounds. Then the safety feature were disabled for a bit. Finally when I went into reverse later in the day I heard a loud pop. Drove for a bit and the wheel started whobbling. Had it towed, and I didn’t hit a thing. But it’s their word against yours. 3 days to fix since they don’t have the parts on hand.
 

Evbwcaer

Member
Jun 21, 2014
752
356
Minnesota
I just came on to post asking for help with probably the same issue. I have attached a video with that demonstrates my issue.

I just had Tesla mobile to my house and the technician told be to bring it in. I imagine they were "hoping" for the loose steering rack issue.

The technician drove the car with me and thought it was a steering related issue, as I did too. But he concluded it is likely a front suspension issue, more specifically the upper control arm ball joint. The upper control arm is non-serviceable, the ball joint is riveted to the control arm and is not grease-able, on my 2014 S with coils anyway.

Replacing the upper control arm seems pretty straightforward, but I am having trouble diagnosing if that is the real problem.

I jacked up the car, driver's side, and tried to 12 and 6 test, holding the wheel at 12 and 6 o'clock and basically heaving it, looking for play in the wheel, but sensed none, same for 9 and 3 o'clock. I pried up on the tire from underneath, seeing if the upper control arm ball-joint had vertical play...but there was none. All the boots/seals look good on the ball joints. I can tell that both steering links, where they attach to the knuckle, had grease coming out at some point, as they are slightly stained, but seem dry now.

Any thoughts or advice would be great. I'd really like to tackle this myself if possible. Thanks

IMG_0849.MOV
 
Saw your video Evbwcaer and that noise sounds like a slap from the video. I’m not sure if it’s because the door may be open, but when it’s closed it just sounds like a knocking sound. It happens when you’re driving slow and turning the wheel or (the worst) when it’s in reverse and turning the wheel. You don’t happen to have a PXD with Ludacris? I’m wondering if this is happening with those models. I know someone who heard that in his P100D S and said he just traded it in after that. I wouldn’t do that but I could see why someone would. I like the car too much honestly, it’s too much fun.
 
Also if they replaced the suspension and you’re still hearing the issue, it’s probably not it. I think the first thing that will happen when it starts to go bad is, your steering wheel will be offset by a certain angle. Like overnight. You’ll still drive as if it’s straight on. It’ll come across as an alignment issue, but it’s not. Then you may hear a pop one day. For me it was just going in reverse out of the driveway. Then it’ll straighten out. At that point I don’t recommend putting it on the road anymore until it’s fixed. Although the wheel will hold, I’m betting any pothole will cause the wheel to be off center and it can cause major damage to the vehicle. That’s just a guess. I’m not sure this situation would happen to you or if this is your issue but I’ve heard the knocking for a while and it disappeared almost completely after that last pop.
 

nerwork_guy

Member
Sep 19, 2021
20
15
MA
Is anyone else experiencing this with their Model S? When backing out of garage with a hard right turn, I hear a pop and a slight displacement on the driver front wheel as if it hit ice and slipped a few inches. Passengers in the back seat can feel it. I drive a plaid. Scheduled a SC appointment, but they are a month out.
 
Dec 26, 2018
759
665
TX
I had the noise from @Evbwcaer 's post, Tesla fixed that by replacing the entire steering rack (thankfully, under warranty - because it requires dropping the front subframe, which requires dropping the battery.

I still have an occasional single pop when doing a 3 point turn at low speed, but haven't been able to track it down, it's not very loud, and I can avoid it altogether if I just make sure i'm rolling a little bit when i turn the wheel quickly, so I'm just dealing with it.
 
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Dec 26, 2018
759
665
TX
It should be noted, my single pop sound only started occurring after Tesla replaced the steering rack. All of the mounting bolts are tight and have had the torques validated, so I'm not sure what it could be.

Since it only happens when I'm "turning the steering wheel faster than the car is moving," I feel like the 'pulling' force on a steering component may be the cause, and not something in the suspension. The first thought is the steering rack, but mine's supposed to be new and triple-checked, so I don't know.

I am replacing my front struts for something unrelated in a few days, and while that's out I will disconnect the sway bar end links and see if I can track it down (since there will be no load on the remaining suspension components.
 
I have the same exact pop but it's been since they replaced the gearbox assembly on my Plaid. The SC replicated the sound/feel and said they think it is because the tires are so large and any surface variant (such as an incline or white paint for parking) causes the tires to slip. They said this is the case with all high-performance cars. They told me to "think about it" for the next 3 days and take it back on Jan 3rd for another evaluation. This is my 5th trip to the SC for this Plaid. I'm irritated, frustrated and if this is going to be an ongoing issue, I don't want the car. Mileage is just over 2K
 
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Dknj23

Member
Aug 12, 2021
59
48
NJ
This popping noise is actually a combination of the camber of the front tires, the large width of the wheel and colder temperatures. I had a concern about this with my Porsche 991 a few years back and when checking on the Porsche forum everybody knew about this and this was common. It’s not specific to Plaid.
 
This popping noise is actually a combination of the camber of the front tires, the large width of the wheel and colder temperatures. I had a concern about this with my Porsche 991 a few years back and when checking on the Porsche forum everybody knew about this and this was common. It’s not specific to Plaid.
That actually makes me feel better. Thank you
 

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