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Diagnosing Front End Noise


belize1334
well bread and nobly conceived
1334/2000


Galant VR-4 org Post #: 769181 posted 03/14/09 02:36 PM     Remind Me!  Send Private Message   Edit Post      
I've got a clunking sound coming from the right front when I drive over not-so-smooth ground. It also clunks if I saw the steering wheel back and forth (I can hear it and also feel it in the wheel). It also clunks when I grab the top of the tire and shake it vigorously with the car on the ground.

The front control arm bushings are new so that's not the issue. I know that the tie rod boots are torn so the tie rod is a likely culprit but it occurs to me that a wheel bearing or even a bad ball-joint could also explain the symptoms. Is there another test I can do to figure out which it is?



Roger B. Scott
'91 Belize Green

Posts: 3312 | From: Dundee, Scotland, UK | Member Since: 11/18/03 | IP: (69.144.80.114) | Report this post to a Moderator

dsm_drew
Unregistered


Galant VR-4 org Post #: 769185 posted 03/14/09 03:41 PM     Remind Me!  Send Private Message   Edit Post      
Lift the corner of the car with a jack so the tire is off the ground. Hold the tire at the top and bottom (12:00 and 6:00 positions) and wiggle it. If you get movement then your ball joint is most likely the culprit. Next hold the wheel at 3:00 and 9:00 and wiggle again. If you get movement that way then your tie rod end is probably bad.

Also, I once had a similar clunk. Saw that the subframe bushings at each end of the crossmember under the radiator were toast. Replaced them with ES bushings and the clunk disappeared.

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belize1334
well bread and nobly conceived
1334/2000


Galant VR-4 org Post #: 769186 posted 03/14/09 03:50 PM     Remind Me!  Send Private Message   Edit Post      
^^ If it's a wheel bearing, couldn't I get clunking under both tests?



Roger B. Scott
'91 Belize Green

Posts: 3312 | From: Dundee, Scotland, UK | Member Since: 11/18/03 | IP: (69.144.80.114) | Report this post to a Moderator

dsm_drew
Unregistered


Galant VR-4 org Post #: 769190 posted 03/14/09 04:11 PM     Remind Me!  Send Private Message   Edit Post      
Could be, although I would think that by the time the wheel bearing got that bad you would have more than just a clunk on bumps/rough roads.

You can check the wheel bearing by removing the wheel, unbolt the caliper and set it aside, put two wheel nuts back on to hold the brake rotor securely, then wiggle the brake rotor back and forth. If there is movement you can watch the tie rod end and ball joint to see if either of them is moving. If the tie rod end and ball joint are secure but there is still movement then its the wheel bearing.

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belize1334
well bread and nobly conceived
1334/2000


Galant VR-4 org Post #: 769201 posted 03/14/09 05:13 PM     Remind Me!  Send Private Message   Edit Post      
Well I lifted it up. Shaking top and bottom does nothing. Shaking left to right makes it clunk. I went around to the driver's side and repeated the test and it's actually louder over there so I'm not sure why it sounded like passenger side from inside the car.

Anyway, I have to drive to Seattle and back over the next week so I guess I'll just have to be gentle on the turns for a little while until I get a chance to replace them. Before I go spending money though, is there any chance that it could be the steering rack and not the tie rods? My intuition says that if it were a rack issue it would be equally bad on both sides but who knows, I've been wrong about that kind of thing before.

Also, is there a consensus on the best tie rods to use? I don't want to skimp here. This is an important part and I want to be able to trust it for cornering at speed.



Roger B. Scott
'91 Belize Green

Posts: 3312 | From: Dundee, Scotland, UK | Member Since: 11/18/03 | IP: (69.144.80.114) | Report this post to a Moderator

dsm_drew
Unregistered


Galant VR-4 org Post #: 769205 posted 03/14/09 05:37 PM     Remind Me!  Send Private Message   Edit Post      
Moog tie rods. Very high quality and you can get them at most parts stores.

You may also check the mounting bushings for the steering rack. If they are worn out it can allow some movement of the rack, although in my experience that causes a wandering feeling in the steering or a clunk when the rack pops from side to side and you notice it in the steering wheel. Still worth checking though. Most practical way of doing that would probably be to put the car on stands, disconnect both tie rod ends, then slide under the car and see if the rack wiggles back and forth at all.

Do you have a place to work on the car or are you outside in the weather? Replacing tie rod ends is easy and you could have it done before your drive to Seattle. If you measure/mark things carefully you could get away without an alignment (although its always best to have it aligned whenever you replace a steering or suspension part.)

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004tsi
Member
1760/2000


Galant VR-4 org Post #: 769216 posted 03/14/09 06:22 PM     Remind Me!  Send Private Message   Edit Post      
could also be inner tie rods, they can go bad as well



1760/2k Belize few mods...
1991 tsi awd
2008 f150
2014 mazda 3
2013 Smokercraft Phantom O/S

Posts: 195 | From: vancouver, wa | Member Since: 07/07/06 | IP: (98.246.70.209) | Report this post to a Moderator

belize1334
well bread and nobly conceived
1334/2000


Galant VR-4 org Post #: 769221 posted 03/14/09 06:51 PM     Remind Me!  Send Private Message   Edit Post      
Inner Tie Rods is what we're talking about. The issue is that I called napa and they can't get me anything until next week and I've got to drive tomorrow.

I do have a place to work so that's not an issue. I seem to remember, though, that last time I did it there was difficulty getting a wrench in to tighten it up. There's very little space between the rack and the subframe in there and I seem to remember not being very confident that I got everything good and snug.

Anyway, I'll order the moog ones and deal with it when I get back.



Roger B. Scott
'91 Belize Green

Posts: 3312 | From: Dundee, Scotland, UK | Member Since: 11/18/03 | IP: (69.144.80.114) | Report this post to a Moderator

004tsi
Member
1760/2000


Galant VR-4 org Post #: 769242 posted 03/14/09 09:14 PM     Remind Me!  Send Private Message   Edit Post      
you want one of these


amazon link
You can rent em from autozone I do believe. If It was me I'd do inner and outer at the same time.



1760/2k Belize few mods...
1991 tsi awd
2008 f150
2014 mazda 3
2013 Smokercraft Phantom O/S

Posts: 195 | From: vancouver, wa | Member Since: 07/07/06 | IP: (98.246.70.209) | Report this post to a Moderator

600of1000
Unregistered


Galant VR-4 org Post #: 769292 posted 03/15/09 12:00 AM     Remind Me!  Send Private Message   Edit Post      
good idea because he has no idea which is bad, inner or outer. and also you have to check for play in ball joints with the suspension loaded. which means jacking the car up under the lower control, then shaking the wheel at 12 and 6, and also liftin the wheel directly up.

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belize1334
well bread and nobly conceived
1334/2000


Galant VR-4 org Post #: 769313 posted 03/15/09 02:37 AM     Remind Me!  Send Private Message   Edit Post   
I know it's not the outer tie rod ends as I replaced both within the last 3 years and the boots still look fine. It's obvious that the driver's side inner tie rod end is failing.



Roger B. Scott
'91 Belize Green

Posts: 3312 | From: Dundee, Scotland, UK | Member Since: 11/18/03 | IP: (69.144.80.114) | Report this post to a Moderator


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