Clunking Noise

Discuss performance modifications for your Saturn Ion that aren't engine specific.

Clunking Noise

Postby bigbluegoldfish » Thu Dec 03, 2009 9:22 am

Hi all,

I have a clunking noise coming from my front suspension anytime I hit a bump in my 2003 Saturn ION. From reading these forums and from having friends listen in my car, I see it being one of these components being bad: sway bar bushing, sway bar end link, ball joint, strut, control arm bushing. I'm trying to figure out how to narrow down my hunt to figure out what it is.

I replaced the sway bar bushings this weekend after a friend thinking that's what it was. No change, so that wasn't it. What are good ways to test the others (end link, ball joint, strut). I looked at the control arm bushing (where the control arm connects to the frame behind the wheel) and it looks fine (I included photos). I've thought about disconnecting the top bolt of the sway bar link and securing it somewhere with a zip tie (to take it out of the suspension) and drive the car for a block -- If the noise is still there, that should rule out the end links. What are good ways to narrow down the other two?

Thanks for any help you have!

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Re: Clunking Noise

Postby froggy81500 » Thu Dec 03, 2009 9:45 am

those control arm bushings are sitting right where they are supposed to, they look fine.

the zip ties might not eliminate any slop in the end links, if that is the problem. Reach in the fender well and grab hold of the end link while having somebody pushing up and down on that corner of the car. if the end link is bad, then you'll hear it popping and feel it popping in your hand.
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Re: Clunking Noise

Postby coppertop_01 » Thu Dec 03, 2009 10:01 am

like froggy said, those control arm bushings are in great shape, probably the endlinks.

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Re: Clunking Noise

Postby bigbluegoldfish » Thu Dec 03, 2009 10:14 am

Great, thanks.

I'll try the end link test that froggy said later today.
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Re: Clunking Noise

Postby bigbluegoldfish » Thu Dec 03, 2009 6:25 pm

OK, I tried the test froggy recommended. Couldn't get the noise to happen while just pushing up and down on the car. Sway bar end links feel tight to me.

However, tried driving around I found out that if I turn the steering wheel left and right continuously (at slow speeds... like 5 mph) to wiggle the car left and right, I hear the clunk every time I turn the wheel. Does this give any hint?

Thanks!
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Re: Clunking Noise

Postby Hemken » Thu Dec 03, 2009 6:49 pm

I say endlink too. Sounds like what happend to me.
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Re: Clunking Noise

Postby froggy81500 » Thu Dec 03, 2009 7:11 pm

bigbluegoldfish wrote:OK, I tried the test froggy recommended. Couldn't get the noise to happen while just pushing up and down on the car. Sway bar end links feel tight to me.

However, tried driving around I found out that if I turn the steering wheel left and right continuously (at slow speeds... like 5 mph) to wiggle the car left and right, I hear the clunk every time I turn the wheel. Does this give any hint?

Thanks!


the typical front end stuff to check would be tie rod ends, ball joints. Possible the strut cap bearings. Try the end links with the steering wheel turned a little bit. If they checked out with the wheels straight then they probably are not the issue, but they do pivot when the wheel is turned so there could be slop in certain spots in their ball studs. Usually if they are pretty bad you'll feel it with the wheels straight and you will know it when you feel it.

Obvious things would be making sure the lugs are tight. Without other noises, probably safe to say the wheel bearings are not your issue. If the struts were bad then you'd be bouncing on the springs and you'd know it. If you had a broken spring, you'd get the noise but you'd also see one corner of the car sitting a little lower also.

On a more serious side, the rack and pinion and the coupler in the steering shaft itself. Mine makes a popping if I turn the wheel to one side and let go with the car not running. Might be normal though because its always seemed to do that.
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Re: Clunking Noise

Postby coppertop_01 » Thu Dec 03, 2009 9:13 pm

yeah your new symptom sounds like it could be a ball joint or tie rod, jack up the car with the rim on try to wiggle the tire side to side and top to bottom, top and bottom wiggle is possible ball joint, side to side would indicate a tie rod.

Jer
Check out the progress on my project car "Fierion"
http://coppertopautosports.blogspot.com/

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Re: Clunking Noise

Postby abbadon09 » Thu Dec 03, 2009 9:27 pm

grab two floor jacks (or a floor jack and a jackstand) and jack the front end up by the frame. once both wheels are off the ground, grab each wheel one at a time and shake it side to side. have somebody feel the outer tie rods, then the inner tie rods while you're doing this. then shake the wheel up and down and look at the ball joints. if there's any clunking from any of them, replace them of course.
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Re: Clunking Noise

Postby froggy81500 » Thu Dec 03, 2009 9:36 pm

Thinking about the fact that there is clunking over bumps and while taking turns, sounding more like ball joints than tie rod ends. I have not heard of bad tie rod ends clunking over bumps, but I have heard bad ball joints do that.
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Re: Clunking Noise

Postby abbadon09 » Fri Dec 04, 2009 10:46 pm

It's still a good idea to check them of course.
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