Help diagnosing front end noise(s)

Discussion in 'Modifications And Maintenance' started by Daveo, Apr 14, 2009.

  1. Daveo
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    Daveo Well-Known Member

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    I know that car sounds are nearly impossible to diagnose over the internet. I do plan on wasting a good chunk of my Saturday trying to figure out this noise, I am just looking for some insight before I start thinking it could be everything under the sun.

    The car is a manual 02 WRX with 80xxx miles. I just did an oil change and brakes on all four corners. Ever since I've had the car (32xxx), it has made the occasional clunk at slow speeds when the wheel is cranked all the way left. I always wrote that off as end links, which I figured I'd replace somewhere along the line when I put bigger bars on the car. Well, it still has the stock bars. Flash forward to a few days ago. I pulled in the garage, turned the car off, and then for whatever reason, decided to wiggle the wheel. There was a distinct, repeatable clunk when I turn the wheel each direction with the car off. I wasn't sure what it could be but I wasn't awfully worried as I don't hear the sound while driving. While driving the car home after work today, I started to hear a clunk under different circumstances. When starting from a complete stop, it's audible the instant that the clutch engages and transfers torque to the wheel (usually a single clunk). It is also audible just before the car comes to a complete stop. This certainly confuses me as it has nothing to do with steering (that comes to mind). I played around a little tonight without jacking the car up (need to get a new one before I get too serious) and wiggled on the end links and tie rod ends. I was able to get a little bit of a wiggle when grabbing the tie rod end on the driver's side, but I'm not sure if the tie rod is going or if the steering rack is somehow loose on the chassis. Lugs are tight. Wheel bearings don't make any noise. CV boots are all intact. Clunk does not occur due to bumps in the road.

    The plan is to jack up the car this weekend and make sure all of the bolts are tightened down from my brake job a few weeks ago. I plan to wiggle the wheels at 9/3 then 12/6. I plan to check the steering rack bolts to make sure it's tight on the car. I plan to look at engine/transmission mounts to make sure they're all serviceable. I have no experience with tie rod ends - will it still make noise when the car is jacked up if it's the problem? I'm assuming a bad end link will wiggle also?

    Anyhow, thanks for reading the book. If you have any ideas for other things I should check while I've got the car up, please post your thoughts. Thanks.
     
  2. TSTRBOY2004
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    TSTRBOY2004 Well-Known Member

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    tie rod ends.... jack up front end... then grab either side of the tire.. wiggle back and forth and see if you get any movement


    duh,.. didnt read ALL the essay.. but saw you mentioned tie rod ends... if you can do a brake job you can replace tie rod ends if needed...
     
  3. ej20
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    ej20 Well-Known Member

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    This might sound odd but a coworker's car had a similar problem and found out that his suspension was mess up. Fix it and the clunks went away. His problem have something to do with the spring. IIRC, it wasn't seated/position correctly.

    If his car drive straight = no clunks, even over bumps. Turn while driving = clunk, clunk...
     
  4. project/driven
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    project/driven Well-Known Member

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    ej20 that post made no sense and helped no one, why do you bother?
     
  5. ej20
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    ej20 Well-Known Member

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    He said post our thoughts.
     
  6. Squiggly
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    Squiggly Squiggly

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    It sounds like you might have a bad bearing in the front top hat. I have a similar noise coming from my car and thats the diagnoses i've come to. Its not enough to bother me though.

    Mike
     
  7. Daveo
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    Daveo Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for your ideas, gentlemen. The ONLY times the car has clunked is when I'm near full-lock left and go over a bump/curb into a driveway, or right as I'm starting off from a stop or right when I stop.

    The one tie-rod end that made noise was on the driver's side of the car and the noise seems to be coming from the passenger's side (I may be deceived though).

    Just curious...how did you come to this conclusion? Can you wiggle the strut or ?

    Keep 'em coming!
     
  8. Dream
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    Dream Well-Known Member

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    Where is Tom, he is the ultimate internet mechanic.
     
  9. MBOUTBACK
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    MBOUTBACK Active Member

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    I would check your bushings at 80k and look at you control arms, and bearings too.

    Good luck!
     
  10. Daveo
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    Daveo Well-Known Member

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    Good idea on the bushings...that was something I hadn't thought of yet.
     
  11. jjbehren
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    jjbehren Active Member

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    I've got this same thing going right now. But to add to it, every time it clunks the car pulls in a different direction. Example: Clunk while turning > car pulls hard right > another clunk > car pulls hard left.

    I'm about to do new struts and group-n top hats in a week or so. I'll post again if the problem goes away.

    Good luck to OP.
     
  12. Daveo
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    Daveo Well-Known Member

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    Dang...I'm lucky, mine is not a bad clunk. I can't feel anything when it happens, it is just audible. To add confusion, I didn't hear anything on the way to work this morning.
     
  13. jjbehren
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    jjbehren Active Member

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    I really think mine's going to be the bearing plate in the front top hats.

    I'll let you know, if you don't figure it out sooner.
     
  14. Squiggly
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    Squiggly Squiggly

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    It's actually a really common problem and i'm surprised no one else has mentioned it. Basically if the top hat doesn't turn with the spring and the lower part of the strut when the wheel turns. the spring will skip out of place on the top hat creating the noise you're describing.

    The front top hats have a little ball bearing set up in them and when those go bad or get to dirty they may not turn all the way or at all.

    Let me know if that doesn't make sense

    Mike
     
  15. 054eatwagon
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    054eatwagon Member

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    sorry to hi-jack your thread , i have a similar ?

    this sounds like what is going on with my wagon as well , 42k miles , but at slow speeds and bumps , the driver side ft spring is making some slight rattles

    how do i check if the spring is not in the top hat? jack it up and spin the spring?

    thanks for your input
     
  16. Scuba Steve
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    Scuba Steve Well-Known Member

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    Actually I understood what he said and your only post in this thread was even less helpful then his. Next time Keep your comments to yourself.


    The easiest and best way to diagnose suspension issues is to simply take apart the front end. Diagnosing over the internet is terribly difficult.

    I've had customers come over with the same type of issues you and Daveo have presented and it's been everything from broken springs, missing washers, broken/bent struts, loose top hats, bad ball joints, and worn out bushings.

    I'd recommend having someone knowledgeable with Subaru suspension rip into it. Sooner the better as major issues can result from attempting to drive with messed up suspension components.
     
  17. Daveo
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    Daveo Well-Known Member

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    Steve, I'm going to pull the wheel off this weekend to double check my work from doing brakes. If that's doesn't fix the problem, I will probably be dropping you a PM to take a look at my car some night/weekend.
     
  18. Daveo
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    Daveo Well-Known Member

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    Well, I jacked the front end up after work today and snooped around for a bit.

    grabbing the wheel at 12 and 6: nada
    grabbing the wheel at 3 and 9: lots of play, but it all seemed to be from the slop in the steering lock (I could wiggle the wheel some but the steering wheel would also wiggle along)
    I tightened the top hat bolts, they were all plenty tight but they got another snug.

    Tie rods seemed solid. End links seemed solid. Control arm bushings all looked okay and I wasn't able to wiggle the arms. Inner CVs wiggle a little bit, right front halfshaft can rotate slightly inside inner CV. The CVs were the only thing that caused alarm with me. Do they normally have a little wiggle or not?

    Further clarification: the sound seems to be very tinny, like when you wiggle the rotor around on the hub with the wheel off. I made sure that the lugs were all tightened down, as well as double checking bolts from doing brakes.

    It looks like I'll be finding someone to take a look at this thing...sigh
     
  19. 054eatwagon
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    054eatwagon Member

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    thanks for the info , i will check it out / have it looked asap
     
  20. Daveo
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    Daveo Well-Known Member

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    Well, on a whim, I rebedded my brakes (Hawk HPS all around, all new) on the way to to work this morning. I didn't get any noise that drive or driving home. I have my fingers crossed...
     
  21. TSTRBOY2004
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    TSTRBOY2004 Well-Known Member

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    if it comes back. check the metal backing plate/dust shield and make sure you never bent it when doing the brakes...
     
  22. Daveo
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    Daveo Well-Known Member

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    Well, I don't think it's the brake deal, that was just dumb luck. The noise is definitely back. I can occasionally make it happen (sounds like a creak out of the car) if I push down really hard on the front passenger corner.

    Scuba Steve and I have a date this weekend to hopefully get some answers...
     
  23. Scuba Steve
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    Scuba Steve Well-Known Member

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    daveo, are you experiecing any noises?
     
  24. jjbehren
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    jjbehren Active Member

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    I know I posted a while back, but I've got time slotted this weekend to do my struts and tophats (along with spark plugs, Perrin crank pulley, and the daytime running light mod). I'll post back here and let you know if my clunk has been solved.

    Good luck with yours.
     
  25. Daveo
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    Daveo Well-Known Member

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    Yup, I made it all the way home without hearing it, then I took the car back out later to run a couple of errands and it was back. I'm stumped - I'll hopefully get that tie rod end ordered pretty soon here so we can at least count that out.
     
  26. jjbehren
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    jjbehren Active Member

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    Update for mine (see 2 posts up).

    After replacing the top hats and struts it's as solid as a rock. Lovin' my new setup and not clunking any more.

    Good luck.
     
  27. Daveo
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    Daveo Well-Known Member

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    Just a bump for the thread, this noise is still there and it's gotten more frequent. I grabbed a tie rod end today after work and I'll hopefully get it in this weekend. Car time may be hard to come by since I might be out on the bike though!
     
  28. WRXEcho
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    WRXEcho Well-Known Member

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    Maybe it's the transverse link? The part that you replace when installing an anti-lift kit, or Perrin PSRS. Just a thought...
     
  29. Daveo
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    Daveo Well-Known Member

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    I got the new tie rod put on today, that was much easier than I thought. Unfortunately, that wasn't the problem though. I don't know what the next step is. As the noise has gotten more frequent, it has started happening now while the car is sitting nearly still in a parking lot and turning the wheel while backing out of a spot.

    Can I rock Kartboy endlinks on a stock swaybar?
     
  30. WRXEcho
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    WRXEcho Well-Known Member

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    The endlinks will be fine with a stock sway bar.
     
  31. Daveo
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    Daveo Well-Known Member

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    Well, that will probably be the next part that I throw at the problem. Gah.
     
  32. WRXEcho
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    WRXEcho Well-Known Member

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    I have the PSRS (Perrin's anti-lift kit) and they need to be greased every once in a while. The last time they needed to be greased, they will squeak up a storm. They won't clunk... but the squeaking is ridiculous and embarrassing. Get in the car, squeak; hit a bump, squeak squeak; anything a squeak squeak.

    I'm having an issue when pulling into the garage, I'll pull in, put it in reverse and start to back up, and then my front drivers side is doing some mad creaking until I straighten out and pull forward into the garage. I've greased my psrs and checked the sway bar bushings... everything checks out so far :dunno:. Suspension noises are FTL.
     
  33. Daveo
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    Daveo Well-Known Member

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    Quoted for truth.
     

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