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I have a Toyota Corolla Verso bought in 2005. Recently it has started to make a noise somewhere in the steering column. Whilst it is only as loud as a clanking keyring, the odd thing is that the noise is made at irregular moments, nothing to do with speed or turning.

Most odd of all, the car can be motionless (engine running, handbrake on) and the noise will start and stop of its own accord, without anything moving. Yes, with my hands off the wheel!

If forced to guess, I would say the sound is coming from that part of the steering column nearest to the driver's knees. It reminds me of a motorised kids toy that is held so that the parts cannot move, and the internal mechanism slips and jerks. (For the purposes of this test, all children and toys were removed from the vehicle).

If you know what it is - can I safely ignore it, or do I really have to get it fixed?!

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    Does this happen even when you are not turning the steering wheel, or is it happening while moving the wheel? (I know you said without anything moving, but I'm wanting to confirm about motion of the steering wheel itself.) – Bill N Nov 4 '15 at 21:25
  • This power steering motor may possibly be causing the noise. It is located in the steering column- ebay.co.uk/itm/… – HandyHowie Nov 4 '15 at 21:40
  • @BillN yes I am not touching the wheel. The steering (when driving along) feels the same as always, so the power steering hasn't completely failed. – Magnus Smith Nov 4 '15 at 22:49
  • Do you hear an actual motor running? If so then HandyHowie may be right, except that according to this article Corolla didn't switch to EPS until 2009 in which case it would not have a motor... – Tom Nov 5 '15 at 17:50
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    ...If there's no motor, just a clicking type noise it could be the clockspring, although those are usually either inside the wheel itself or right under it. The reason I suspect that is because the clockspring is a stiff flat electrical cable that is coiled up like the spring in a wind-up toy. If you turn the wheel a long way then back it puts tension on the spring then release it. Later on it could just be shifting to realign itself. – Tom Nov 5 '15 at 17:50
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I would venture to guess that it is a completely random, and in no way threatening plastic trim piece/wiring harness/adjustment lever under the steering column that is rubbing or vibrating against it's fasteners or another trim piece. It is completely intermittent because sometimes it catches itself in such a way that it doesn't vibrate, or it could be activated by a certain frequency of the engine, which can occur at several different speeds depending on the gear you're in.

In my car, I finally felt around enough to track an annoying rattle to the electric mirror adjustment knob which was located on my steering column. I ended up putting a piece foam tape under the edge, which put just enough force against the knob to keep it from rocking due to engine vibrations.

Your rattle may be that easy to find, or it may be buried under a trim piece. If you have a Chilton/Haynes manual (or some google/forum searching skills), it will tell you what panels can be easily removed, and may also have diagrams to give you a better idea of what could be causing the pesky noise.

  • Nice old question answer. If you get +5 it's a silver. +2 is bronze. I was going to try and knock out some old ones tonight. – DucatiKiller Mar 31 '16 at 0:12

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