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Dave WM

front end clunk/steering

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I back out car turn steering wheel left nearly full lock. 1st gear start rolling forward while holding steering wheel I hear a clunk that seems to come from the passenger side front. At the same time as I hear the clunk I feel the steering wheel "give" a tiny amount. No other issues, steering feels tight, no noises with less that full lock or near full lock rotation of steering wheel.

I have checked TC bushings/ball joints on strut/wheel bearings. All in good shape and tight. I get a tiny bit of movement in the passenger side inner tie rod, none on the driver. The rack seems tight (no slop) I have rubber rack mounts (new). the rag joint is in good shape. Strut mounts tight in towers.

I am thinking the pass inner is getting loaded up one way, then when I reverse direction (go forward) there is a load on it that shifts the joint and that is what I am hearing. Any other ideas? I have a spare rack complete with outer tie rods that I can try. I am thinking pulling the entire rack including outers, measure it, and setup the spare, try it and see if still have the noise.

I will check for a grease fitting on the inner before I do anything to see if grease helps.

 

 

 

Edited by Dave WM

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Have you tried unloading that wheel/tire and checking for unusual movement? Could be a bad bearing or race? 

Does the steering wheel shake while driving? Braking?

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8 minutes ago, siteunseen said:

Have you tried unloading that wheel/tire and checking for unusual movement? Could be a bad bearing or race? 

Does the steering wheel shake while driving? Braking?

wheel bearing feel fine, no other bad habbits at all. no shake ever, tracks perfect, brakes straight. lifted car gave the wheel a 12/6 shake no play the a 9/3 shake, this is where I can just feel a tiny bit of play by grabbing the passenger side inner tie rod, squeeze there while shaking the wheel 9/3 with the steering locked. It seems like the only place that is not up to par, the drive side inner tie rod has zero play. I was wondering if other that may have had worn inner tie rods experience this kind of sound (knock and associated steering bump).

Most of the 9/3 movement was the rack moving inside the rubber mounts, but I could feel the diff in the inner tie rods, passenger side vs driver. Outer tie rods showed no movement from being loose.

Edited by Dave WM

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I did not check the brakes. will do that when I go out to see about grease gun. I understand there is a hole that allows for grease under the boot.

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I practiced greasing the spare rack inner tie rod. pull the boot up after removing the clamp from the inside towards the outside, have to collapse the boot completely to see the small hole on the rack about 1/2" in from the tie rod where is screws onto the rack. there is NO cover to the hole, if it had one it would have to be flush since this part of the rack goes into the assembly, and any protrusion would interfere with a complete stroke. I put in a zerk tested it for accepting grease. I guess its just pumped in until you get some squeeze out by the threaded rod part. I would have thought there would be some kind of plug to retain it, but guess not. Any excess grease will still inside the boot anyway. I am hoping I can get the boot off the rack installed in the car without tearing anything. The boot on the spare is trashed, I think the other side is still ok so I have a donor in case I goof it up. I was checking on OE boots, 100 for a pair, yikes. at  that price I would prob just pop for a whole new china rack.

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That was easy.

drive up on ramps for some room to work, remove splash pan to gain access to rack, remove the clamp on the inner part of the boot. Used a pick to get under the boot and lift it over the ridge, then walk that around until the boot is free. The boot was in great shape, I was able to collapse it back and hold it there for easy access to the zerk fitting hole. Screw in the zerk gave it a few good shots of EP grease, I have no idea how much as I did not bother to remove the boot and try to see the inner tie rod threaded rod part. Just gave it several good squeezes. replace boot and clamp, done. maybe 30min from start to finish. it was late and I had to jockey around cars to give me a good work space in the garage. I will road test it tomorrow to see if there is any improvement. I did NOT check the caliper bolts, IIRC I have to remove the tires to get access to that and since I had the ramps I could not do that. Will report back tomorrow to see if it resolved the mystery clunk. I did check all the other steering related bolts all were tight, the sway bar end links were snug, but again IIRC its not supposed to be super tight on that. Both sides seemed about the same. I am sticking with the inner tie rod as the prime suspect given the noise and steering bump happen at exactly the same time.

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Maybe your battery is about to fall out?  You never know.  Assume the unassumable.

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It sounds a little bit different but still there. The change while subtle is noticeable so I presume I am on the right track, perhaps I just need a new inner tie rod.

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@Dave WM I had a similar type issue a few years ago. Looked for it for for a long time and that my passenger side tension rod was just loose enough to move only under same type of load. It was the two bolts holding it to the lower control bar. They were tight but not enough to keep it from a slight movement and a sound similar to what you described. Hope this helps. 

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37 minutes ago, 7tooZ said:

@Dave WM I had a similar type issue a few years ago. Looked for it for for a long time and that my passenger side tension rod was just loose enough to move only under same type of load. It was the two bolts holding it to the lower control bar. They were tight but not enough to keep it from a slight movement and a sound similar to what you described. Hope this helps. 

they were very tight but I will double check the torque specs and see if tight enough. I check all the bolts around the problem area (ball joint,TC both sides). Thanks the tip. What I forgot to check was the steering arm to wheel hub, the big ones think 2 17mm will check those as well.

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ok moving on, I was able to recreate the sound by jacking up the front, unloading the tires, locking the steering and pushing 9/3 one way very firmly then I would reverse the direction and a I would get a pop, it seems higher up than the tie rods. I don't have any help so its hard to manipulate the wheels while trying to locate the source of the pop. I thought it may have been something to do with a strut, like a spring shifting in a perch or something up there. I am going to try and capture on video later but that will not help me find it, just something to share with the folks so you can hear the noise I am referring to. I suppose I could unbolt the top of the strut and see if that changes the sound...

the odd thing is it does not make the noise if you just go lock to lock, you have to shove hard on 9 or 3 against the lock of the steering or the end of the rack to "set" it then slight pressure the opposite direction causes the pop. It almost looked at times like the wheel was moving and the hub was not when it popped like a really jacked up wheel bearing, enough play to see. But I cant imagine that is the case as it has no play 12/6. Another test for that I could do would be to tighten up the wheel bearing some and see if that matters to the noise. Of course I don't want it overtight, but that could at least eliminate the bearing as the issue. The main problem is poor visibility of the issue while manipulating the wheel.

Edited by Dave WM

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Use your video device as your helper. 

Those wheel bearings were a hard torque to figuring out as I recall. There was something in the fsm I believe. Tighten to a certain place then back off? Good luck, it would be nice if the battery was loose like Zed Head said. LOL

 

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I just tighten them up until start to bind up, turn both direction, then back off until play is noticed then creep up on them until no play. Perhaps I should review the FSM, its just the way I have always done it. I have zero play in 12/6 direction on wheels.

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a duh moment, I can just take off the hub caps and look at it while executing the pop procedure... maybe when the sun goes down it feels like well over 100f right now.

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On checking wheel bearing looseness - I dealt with loose bearings for a while and found that you can get a really good idea of looseness/tightness by grabbing the top of the tire and shaking back and forth, with the car on the ground.  If there's any looseness, you'll hear it clunking.  You just have to be careful not to confuse the noise with brake pads or caliper parts moving though.

Pretty sure that I also found that the nut will only tighten so far, not always clamping the bearings in to the race like most cars.  I could crank the nut down and the bearings would still be loose, if they were worn out.

Edited by Zed Head

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We didn't torque tapered roller bearings "back in the day". We would spin the wheel while tightening the nut until the nut was snug and usually tighten it until the next slot in the nut aligned with the hole in the spindle. On my 71 the next alignment slot felt too tight, so I backed the nut off. That slot left the wheel bearings with an almost imperceptible amount of play. I consulted my Dad (ex-logger) about the looseness and he said a tapered wheel bearing would last a lot longer a bit loose than a bit too tight. I don't know why, to this day, but I left the bearings a bit loose and other than occasionally greasing them, I ran them over 175,000 miles. I did have to tighten them, temporarily, for novice races. Tech didn't like loose wheel bearings.

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hmmm ZH I am def hearing something when shaking the top while on ground.

A follow up, no play with the car up in the air.

 

Edited by Dave WM
found the real reason see later post.

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I should also mention that the reason I was focused on my bearings is because they led to loose steering.  So that's another sign.  That wandering feeling in the front end when it should be tight.  Getting pulled by freeway grooves, excessive tire wear, etc.

I've worked on a variety of car brands bearings but the Z bearings were the most difficult to get right, for me.  Not sure why.

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Have you replaced the rack bushings Dave?   Easy to check,  watch for any vertical movement when turning steering wheel with hood open.  Need helper or your camera for passenger side check.    Might be unrelated to your problem but worth checking.

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I think I hope I may have it. I was able to duplicate the sound by locking the steering wheel, wheels up, push hard 9/6 one way to "set it" then pull back and pop.

I found the control arm bolt (17mm) less than torqued to spec (I got a socket on one side a wrench on the other) I could turn it pretty easy, not loose mind you but def not uga uga uga tight.

any way tightened it up, check the other side (it was fine) and could no longer duplicate the pop with the car wheels up. Again too late to test drive tonight have to go clean up and call it a day.

I think I intentionally delay testing like this so I can at least think I have if fixed. Will check in the morning and report back. So anyone else forget to tight the control arm bolts and if so do you recall any odd clunking sounds?

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3 hours ago, S30Driver said:

Have you replaced the rack bushings Dave?   Easy to check,  watch for any vertical movement when turning steering wheel with hood open.  Need helper or your camera for passenger side check.    Might be unrelated to your problem but worth checking.

yes replaced the rack bushings, I made a video of it showing the amount of give they have in side to side play.

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Fixed!

so bottom line is if you have worked on the front suspension make sure you torque to spec. I am not sure but the nuts may have nylon locking, perhaps one use only. I will check again to see if anything loosens up.

to recap the situation, the noise would present when I would back up, turn one direction, then reverse steer while going forward after backing up. a noticeable "pop" or "clunk" would be heard in the front of the car with a slight release feel in the steering wheel. I presume I was shifting the control arm bushing ever so slightly. It has the original control arm bush (front control arm).  I have new OE bushings on hand, but since I did not install them I presume I had the arm off and check them and decided not to replace.

It will be interesting to see if I notice any change in the normal driving, there was nothing odd going on other than the clunk that I can recall.

Edited by Dave WM

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Are you saying that the big nut and bolt that create the inner pivot for the "transverse link" was loose?

image.png

Edited by Zed Head

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yes that is the one #17. It was not loose but it was tight either I would say snug (clearly loose from what it should be). I am pretty sure I would have torqued to spec when I last worked on it. Interesting on that pic I have the bolt installed the opposite way, the head of the bolt is forward with the nut on the back side.

hmm, fsm show a detail pic with it mounted the way I have it. Also I note it has you temp mounting then tight to spec AFTER car link is loaded (car sitting on ground).

I bet I missed that last part. I cant seem to insert that part of the FSM...

Ideally a drive on lift that keeps the suspension loaded would make it a lot easier to get a torque wrench in there and do that. Ramps are ok but does not give a lot of room to put 80-100ft lbs on it.

 

 

 

 

Edited by Dave WM

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