1A Auto Video Library
Our how-to videos have helped repair over 100 million vehicles.

Clunking in the Front Whats That Noise in My Car SUV or Truck

Created on: 2020-03-02

Check out this video to learn many of the places a clunking sound may come from on your vehicle's front end!

Hey friends, it's Len from 1A Auto. Today we've got a vehicle on a lift and I wanna show you how to check for a front end noise. I'm gonna let you take a listen real quick.

One of the most basic things you wanna check is checking your lug nut torque, you wanna make sure these are torqued to manufacturer's specifications. If any of them are loose, of course this is gonna make a clunking noise. So, one of the first things we wanna do is get the wheels raised off the ground so we can give them a little wiggle. I'm gonna go side to side, I've got a little bit of a clunk that way, go up and down. Not much that way, give a little spin. That sounds pretty good, no growl. All right, let's go ahead and turn this wheel and we can take a peek at what's going on behind here.

We'll start at the top. If you look right up here, you have your shock. Generally speaking, you can look right along here. And if you see a whole bunch of fluid or accumulation of debris and gunk, more than likely your shock/strut is no good. That can cause a banging noise. On top of the shock/strut you might also see that there's gonna be a mount up there. If that's no good, that'll cause noise as well. That's not really something that you can really easily check. You have to kind of pull this out of here and it's kind of a hassle. You'll notice you have your upper control arm with your upper ball joint. A lot of times what you'll notice is a little bit of play right here. If you shake your wheel, generally you'll see it if you're pulling on the top at 12 and 6. A great way to test your upper ball joint is to just give it a squeeze like this. Obviously, that's very bad, it shouldn't be doing that.

We'll move on down, we have our outer tie rod end. If you see any movement between here and here, maybe this is walking or it's popping up and down. Your outer tie rod end will be no good. You can follow this in, and it leads to your power steering rack, and this is your bellows boot. Generally speaking, there'll be a clamp right here, you just take that off of there, it's gonna be a single time use, give a little twist and pull it like this. This area right here is your inner tie rod end and has a little ball and socket. I don't know if you can see it from your angle or not, we're right in there. You would shake the tire with your hands in the position of 3 and 9, side to side. And if you see that popping in and out, you know you have an issue. We can also look right here where the power steering rack is, if you shake your wheel from left to right, you'll also notice that this may or may not go up and down. You might hear a clunking noise from that as well. If this is going up and down inside the rack, it's gonna go clunk, clunk, all right? Couple things to pay attention to there.

So, now we're gonna follow it down and we can find our lower ball joint here. And this particular vehicle also has this one right here. So, we're just gonna pay attention right there, okay? I'm gonna grab this wheel at 6 and 12 and I'm gonna try to shake it. At this point, you may or may not see any movement. If you see any movement like this, you know that those are bad. Just because you don't happen to see any movement doesn't mean that they're fine though, I'm gonna show you something. We're gonna turn this wheel as far as it's gonna wanna go and keep watching, ready? Can you see that walking in and out? If your ball joint is moving like that, you know it's no good. Now, I'm just gonna turn it in the other direction and do the same thing. Something to pay attention to as well is any potential holes inside a boot, if you have a little pinhole it can cause a major issue with water getting in. So, right up inside here along where your knuckle is where the wheel bearing should be. You will check that simply by wiggling the wheel around. If you have any clunking right up in this area and it's not coming from any of these ball joints, odds are it's your wheel bearing.

The next thing that I would check would be the sway bar links which comes from your shock/strut and just come straight down and goes to the sway bar. A lot of times when you hit a bump, one side wants to go up because you only hit a pothole on one side and right inside this ball and socket you'll hear a [clunking noise]. And that's when you know that your sway bar link would be no good. We'll come right up here, this is your sway bar bushings and this is where the bar mounts to the frame. They need to be rubber, and they need to be holding right up against that bar so it can't wobble around. If you could take the bar and move it up and down, that's another potential clunk. Another area to check is your steering shaft right up along here. And this is the part that goes from your power steering rack all the way up to the steering column. So, there's a little U-joint in here, you just kind of shake this around and just see if it has any movement. It seems like the U-joint is ready to come apart, you know you got a major issue.

Okay, friends, I showed you a couple places underneath the front end here that you can take a look for. Look for a little bit of movement, listen for some noise, all sorts of stuff like that. Our vehicle may be a little bit different than yours. As you saw, we've got some problems that we're gonna have to get to work on. As for you, best of luck, I hope this helped.

hanks for watching. Visit 1aauto.com for quality auto parts shipped to your door, the place for DIY auto repair. And if you enjoyed this video, please click the subscribe button.

How to Raise Support 2001-06 Hyundai Elantra

Not sure where to place a jack or jack stands on the 01-06 Hyundai Elantra? This video will show you all the safe points to jack up and place jack stands

Share on:
Go To Top

Same Day Shipping

Need your part faster? Choose expedited shipping at checkout.

Guaranteed To Fit

Highest quality, direct fit replacement auto parts enforced to the strictest product standards.

USA Customer Support

Exceeding customers' expectations, our team of passionate auto enthusiasts are here to help.

Instructional Video Library

Thousands of how-to auto repair videos to guide you step-by-step through your repair.