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Front left wheel clunk


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I am posting this in a new topic because it is unrelated to any of the other problems my car has had.

I have noticed for the last 2 days or so that there is an odd clunking sound coming from the front left wheel. When it happens I can feel it under my foot at the far front of the floor near the pedals.

I feel it is worth mentioning that this is the same wheel I had to change the wheel hub on when I got the car because the bearing was bad. I also had both front coil springs replaced by my brother because the left front one broke. They were replaced about 2 months ago. In the process of this the sway bar link bushing got "spun out" and became loose, which caused a mild clunking in the front end when I hit a bump or pothole in the road with either front tire.

This new clunk however, does not seem the same. It only happens when I steer in either direction. I also can't feel the clunking from the sway bar link like I can this one. When I changed the wheel hub the CV joint, shaft and ball joints were inspected by my brother and they were fine (this was in October). I also had an alignment done after changing the wheel hub, and again after changing the front springs. My alignment now seems to be a little off, and I mean very slightly, but enough for me to notice (anyone else probably wouldn't, but I am used to my car).

Is it possible that my CV or my ball joint(s) could have gone from being fine to failing in just a few months? Is it possible that the sway bar link could suddenly develop a different clunking that only happens when steering? Is there anything else I should look at that could be causing this?

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Does anyone know how I could check the CV joint? Or would I be better off replacing it and seeing if the clunk goes away?

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Does anyone know how I could check the CV joint? Or would I be better off replacing it and seeing if the clunk goes away?

Usually a bad CV joint will click when turning. Find a parking lot and roll the windows down and drive in circles - one direction and then the opposite direction and listen for clicking.

Kevin
'93 Fleetwood Brougham
'05 Deville
'04 Deville
2013 Silverado Z71

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The first think I would check are the two sway bar links. The links are connected at the bottom to the sway bar and then to the strut. Then I would check the engine cradle to make sure it's secure. Note that the engine cradle can rust, particularly see if the two inner mounts at the rear are still there on both sides. Sometimes the cradle rusts and the mounts punch through and are lost. Also, inspect the front mounts. If the cradle deteriorates it can make sounds which can be difficult to isolate.

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When the coil springs were replaced, I am sure the mechanic would have replaced the strut rod bushings if they were bad, make sure the strut rod bolt is tightened to spec. Ask the mechanic how bad the strut rod bushings were and how the ball joint looked.

The noise you hear could be the strut mounts, did he replace the strut mount?

Pre-1995 - DTC codes OBD1  >>

1996 and newer - DTC codes OBD2 >> https://www.obd-codes.com/trouble_codes/gm/obd_codes.htm

How to check for codes Caddyinfo How To Technical Archive >> http://www.caddyinfo.com/wordpress/cadillac-how-to-faq/

Cadillac History & Specifications Year by Year  http://www.motorera.com/cadillac/index.htm

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When the coil springs were replaced, I am sure the mechanic would have replaced the strut rod bushings if they were bad, make sure the strut rod bolt is tightened to spec. Ask the mechanic how bad the strut rod bushings were and how the ball joint looked.

The noise you hear could be the strut mounts, did he replace the strut mount?

My brother is the one who replaced the coil springs and I was there and watched while he did it. The front right sway bar link bushing was fine, but the left one spun out while loosening the mount to get the strut off. I couldn't have it replaced then because it was late, and I would have had to wait 3 days for it to come in. That's my fault. I'll admit that. I just didn't want to have to leave the front end of my car torn apart for 3 days and not be able to drive it. It has had a clunk when I hit bumps or potholes from that bushing being bad ever since, but this is a different sound.

Over the last 2 days, I have had the front end gone over pretty thoroughly. I brought it to my brother's workplace garage and we went through it. Ball joints seem fine, took the wheels off and the CV's seem fine, I mentioned checking the engine mounts/cradle and everything looked good there. With the front end lifted and the engine off, there was no clunking when turning the steering wheel. When the car was running with the front end lifted, the sound came back. The only thing we could think of at that point was a steering issue so we started looking into that. I found a very slight pinhole leak in one of the steering lines, and temporarily fixed that with epoxy, another piece of rubber hose, and 3 hose clamps. I will have to replace it I'm sure, but it stopped leaking. The clunking is still there and I have no idea what else it could be. I'm stumped by the fact that the noise was still present with the front end lifted and no weight on the wheel. It definitely sounds like it's coming from right behind the wheel. I think I am going to have the sway bar links and bushings replaced and see if that cures the problem.

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With the front end lifted and the engine off, there was no clunking when turning the steering wheel. When the car was running with the front end lifted, the sound came back

Do you mean with the tranny in DRIVE and the wheels turning or not?

If the clunking comes when the steering wheel is turned check the strut mounts, the entire wheel/strut assembly rotates in the strut mount. Carefully hold the spring while someone turns the wheel to see if you feel popping, I say CAREFULLY, so you don't get hurt by the wheel turning

Noise on bumps is typically the stabilizer links, but the strut rod bushings could be banging on the frame

Pre-1995 - DTC codes OBD1  >>

1996 and newer - DTC codes OBD2 >> https://www.obd-codes.com/trouble_codes/gm/obd_codes.htm

How to check for codes Caddyinfo How To Technical Archive >> http://www.caddyinfo.com/wordpress/cadillac-how-to-faq/

Cadillac History & Specifications Year by Year  http://www.motorera.com/cadillac/index.htm

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When the coil springs were replaced, I am sure the mechanic would have replaced the strut rod bushings if they were bad, make sure the strut rod bolt is tightened to spec. Ask the mechanic how bad the strut rod bushings were and how the ball joint looked.

The noise you hear could be the strut mounts, did he replace the strut mount?

My brother is the one who replaced the coil springs and I was there and watched while he did it. The front right sway bar link bushing was fine, but the left one spun out while loosening the mount to get the strut off. I couldn't have it replaced then because it was late, and I would have had to wait 3 days for it to come in. That's my fault. I'll admit that. I just didn't want to have to leave the front end of my car torn apart for 3 days and not be able to drive it. It has had a clunk when I hit bumps or potholes from that bushing being bad ever since, but this is a different sound.

Over the last 2 days, I have had the front end gone over pretty thoroughly. I brought it to my brother's workplace garage and we went through it. Ball joints seem fine, took the wheels off and the CV's seem fine, I mentioned checking the engine mounts/cradle and everything looked good there. With the front end lifted and the engine off, there was no clunking when turning the steering wheel. When the car was running with the front end lifted, the sound came back. The only thing we could think of at that point was a steering issue so we started looking into that. I found a very slight pinhole leak in one of the steering lines, and temporarily fixed that with epoxy, another piece of rubber hose, and 3 hose clamps. I will have to replace it I'm sure, but it stopped leaking. The clunking is still there and I have no idea what else it could be. I'm stumped by the fact that the noise was still present with the front end lifted and no weight on the wheel. It definitely sounds like it's coming from right behind the wheel. I think I am going to have the sway bar links and bushings replaced and see if that cures the problem.

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just a thought- did you happen to notice the rack and pinion bolts to make sure none were loose?

That is a good thought, we have had a couple of members have a loose rack

Pre-1995 - DTC codes OBD1  >>

1996 and newer - DTC codes OBD2 >> https://www.obd-codes.com/trouble_codes/gm/obd_codes.htm

How to check for codes Caddyinfo How To Technical Archive >> http://www.caddyinfo.com/wordpress/cadillac-how-to-faq/

Cadillac History & Specifications Year by Year  http://www.motorera.com/cadillac/index.htm

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With the front end lifted and the engine off, there was no clunking when turning the steering wheel. When the car was running with the front end lifted, the sound came back

Do you mean with the tranny in DRIVE and the wheels turning or not?

If the clunking comes when the steering wheel is turned check the strut mounts, the entire wheel/strut assembly rotates in the strut mount. Carefully hold the spring while someone turns the wheel to see if you feel popping, I say CAREFULLY, so you don't get hurt by the wheel turning

Noise on bumps is typically the stabilizer links, but the strut rod bushings could be banging on the frame

I meant with the tranny in PARK and the car running. I didn't want to put it in drive with it lifted. Bad prior experience with something similar makes me hesitant to do that.

The fact that it was in PARK and running led me to believe it could be a steering issue since there was no weight on the front end. I think I will try your suggestion of holding the spring to see if I can feel anything. I know I can feel it under my foot when it happens while I'm driving.

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just a thought- did you happen to notice the rack and pinion bolts to make sure none were loose?

I listened near the rack for the sound when my brother was turning the steering wheel, and it didn't sound like it was coming from there. As said before, it sounds like it's right behind the wheel. I never thought to check the bolts to be sure they were tightened down, but I will now just to be on the safe side.

Thanks to everyone for your suggestions so far. I want to get this issue figured out and resolved before it turns into anything worse than what it is. So far, it hasn't gotten any worse. It still sounds exactly the same as it did when it started. The only difference I have noticed so far is that the faster I am going when I turn a corner, the louder the clunk is, but it has been that way from the start. The more I read everyone's posts and the more I think about it, the more I feel that it's a strut/spring related issue. I'll have everything checked again and see what turns up.

For reference, if anyone ever has to replace coil springs, it's a VERY scary job. It's pretty simple, but I'll tell you, having to put a spring that big onto a spring compressor is scary business. The old one wasn't too bad, but the new ones make this creepy squeaking and popping noise as it's being compressed. I was scared to death that the thing was going to come flying out of that compressor and kill someone. Lining the new spring up on the strut is a bit of a PITA as well. It's definitely NOT a job for the weak at heart, or for people with Anxiety, which is why I didn't do it by myself.

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You need to feel the rack when the steering wheel is turned to see if it is shifting, your gut tells you its in the steering and if the rack bolts are loose, it will allow the rack to shift and possibly snap because bolts are just tight enough for they told hold it slightly until the stress hits a point when the rack moves with a snap. We have had members (I think Regis) have the problem.

Regis had a 94 and he chased down noises for a couple of years, you might do good reading some of Regis's threads

Pre-1995 - DTC codes OBD1  >>

1996 and newer - DTC codes OBD2 >> https://www.obd-codes.com/trouble_codes/gm/obd_codes.htm

How to check for codes Caddyinfo How To Technical Archive >> http://www.caddyinfo.com/wordpress/cadillac-how-to-faq/

Cadillac History & Specifications Year by Year  http://www.motorera.com/cadillac/index.htm

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I just want to post an update on this issue. I brought my car to my brother today, and we went through the ENTIRE front end again, following advice that was offered here as well. The only thing we could find wrong were the sway bar link bushings being worn out. I figured what the heck, went to the parts store and spent the 40$ on 2 new sway bar links, and brought them back to my brother to be installed. The job was a NIGHTMARE! It took a blow torch and a grinder to get the nuts off of the original ones because they were so seized on the bottom end of the links. Putting the new ones in was cake. It only took about 5 minutes per side. When taking the old one off of the driver side (in which the clunking was), the bottom of the sway bar link actually pulled completely out of the bushing with no effort at all, and it was bent.

To sum it all up, 3 hours (spent almost entirely on getting the old ones off) and 40$ later, with the new ones installed, the clunking is gone. I even made sure to test drive it through some potholes and make some quick, sharp turns with it, and nothing. No clunking at all. It seems that problem can now be scratched off my list of things to take care of.

Next up: New brakes, as I have a warped rotor which is quickly becoming a nuisance. New rear shocks. Transmission fluid change. And some minor cosmetic work on the interior that I would like to do in the spring.

So far things are coming along quite nicely. I love this car more and more every day. biggrin.gif

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I just want to post an update on this issue. I brought my car to my brother today, and we went through the ENTIRE front end again, following advice that was offered here as well. The only thing we could find wrong were the sway bar link bushings being worn out. I figured what the heck, went to the parts store and spent the 40$ on 2 new sway bar links, and brought them back to my brother to be installed. The job was a NIGHTMARE! It took a blow torch and a grinder to get the nuts off of the original ones because they were so seized on the bottom end of the links. Putting the new ones in was cake. It only took about 5 minutes per side. When taking the old one off of the driver side (in which the clunking was), the bottom of the sway bar link actually pulled completely out of the bushing with no effort at all, and it was bent.

To sum it all up, 3 hours (spent almost entirely on getting the old ones off) and 40$ later, with the new ones installed, the clunking is gone. I even made sure to test drive it through some potholes and make some quick, sharp turns with it, and nothing. No clunking at all. It seems that problem can now be scratched off my list of things to take care of.

Next up: New brakes, as I have a warped rotor which is quickly becoming a nuisance. New rear shocks. Transmission fluid change. And some minor cosmetic work on the interior that I would like to do in the spring.

So far things are coming along quite nicely. I love this car more and more every day. biggrin.gif

Good job, Carla. I have learned that even 1/16" play in suspension parts may produce a pretty loud and annoying clunk. It's good to have a mechanic brother, is not it? :)

The saddest thing in life is wasted talent

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Carla,

The clunking was due to worn sway bar bushings that are mounted to the subframe and not the end links themselves correct? I have a similar issue on my Sevilles and the end links are tight so the next step was to replace the two bushings. Could you see if the sway bar was contacting the subframe due to the worn bushing? I looked at my bushings and they appear to be intact and not allowing the sway bar to contact the subframe.

I bought a "blue tipped wrench" (oxy-acetylene torch) years ago - I don't use it that often but when I need it to free a stubborn fastener, frozen brake line fitting, etc. it saves the day. I wouldn't be without it in my tool aresenal.

Kevin
'93 Fleetwood Brougham
'05 Deville
'04 Deville
2013 Silverado Z71

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Carla,

The clunking was due to worn sway bar bushings that are mounted to the subframe and not the end links themselves correct? I have a similar issue on my Sevilles and the end links are tight so the next step was to replace the two bushings. Could you see if the sway bar was contacting the subframe due to the worn bushing? I looked at my bushings and they appear to be intact and not allowing the sway bar to contact the subframe.

I bought a "blue tipped wrench" (oxy-acetylene torch) years ago - I don't use it that often but when I need it to free a stubborn fastener, frozen brake line fitting, etc. it saves the day. I wouldn't be without it in my tool aresenal.

I was thinking the same thing, she had the car in the air on a lift and when she turned the steering wheel, she got clunking. That is not typically the way that stablizer links make noise, usually its noise over bumps, that bad links show that they are bad.

I was thinking that is it was happening on turns that it was the strut rod bushings attached to the carriage shifting back and forth, I had replaced those two bushings with Poly bushings.

Based on Carla's description of the job, I think she means stabilizer links, it is surprising that they would make noise turning the steering wheel however.....

Here is my poly strut rod bushing

LowerControlArminstalled.jpg

Pre-1995 - DTC codes OBD1  >>

1996 and newer - DTC codes OBD2 >> https://www.obd-codes.com/trouble_codes/gm/obd_codes.htm

How to check for codes Caddyinfo How To Technical Archive >> http://www.caddyinfo.com/wordpress/cadillac-how-to-faq/

Cadillac History & Specifications Year by Year  http://www.motorera.com/cadillac/index.htm

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When I went to the parts store to get them, they were listed as Sway Bar Links, but yes, they are also called Stabilizer Bar Links. They are about a foot long, and connect to the end of the sway bar (stabilizer bar) on the bottom, and to a metal bracket on the strut at the top. My brother was a bit stumped as well that replacing them seems to have cured the clunking. The best thing we can think of is that because the ends of the links were so loose inside their bushings (and they were VERY loose, enough to be able to be rotated by hand), they were sagging to the point that they were less than a quarter inch from the flat piece of metal at the bottom of the wheel assembly. I can't remember what it's called right now, but the ball joint is on one end of it, and the other end connects to the subframe. At any rate, we think it's possible that the bottom of the links was hitting that part when I turned. I don't know for sure. Another possibility my brother said was that maybe him replacing the links has temporarily "dampened" whatever the problem is and that it may come back. I'll keep driving it and see what happens, but for now everything is quiet.

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Carla,

The clunking was due to worn sway bar bushings that are mounted to the subframe and not the end links themselves correct? I have a similar issue on my Sevilles and the end links are tight so the next step was to replace the two bushings. Could you see if the sway bar was contacting the subframe due to the worn bushing? I looked at my bushings and they appear to be intact and not allowing the sway bar to contact the subframe.

I bought a "blue tipped wrench" (oxy-acetylene torch) years ago - I don't use it that often but when I need it to free a stubborn fastener, frozen brake line fitting, etc. it saves the day. I wouldn't be without it in my tool aresenal.

KHE,

I had worn sway bar bushings on my 91 Seville. The sway bar itself did not make any noise, but a plastic splash shield on the wheel housing hit something every time I hit a pothole. Replacing the bushings eliminated that clunk. Just my $0.02.

The saddest thing in life is wasted talent

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Thanks for the clarification, I need to replace mine also, and I have heard that they can be tough to remove..

Pre-1995 - DTC codes OBD1  >>

1996 and newer - DTC codes OBD2 >> https://www.obd-codes.com/trouble_codes/gm/obd_codes.htm

How to check for codes Caddyinfo How To Technical Archive >> http://www.caddyinfo.com/wordpress/cadillac-how-to-faq/

Cadillac History & Specifications Year by Year  http://www.motorera.com/cadillac/index.htm

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Carla,

The clunking was due to worn sway bar bushings that are mounted to the subframe and not the end links themselves correct? I have a similar issue on my Sevilles and the end links are tight so the next step was to replace the two bushings. Could you see if the sway bar was contacting the subframe due to the worn bushing? I looked at my bushings and they appear to be intact and not allowing the sway bar to contact the subframe.

I bought a "blue tipped wrench" (oxy-acetylene torch) years ago - I don't use it that often but when I need it to free a stubborn fastener, frozen brake line fitting, etc. it saves the day. I wouldn't be without it in my tool aresenal.

I was thinking the same thing, she had the car in the air on a lift and when she turned the steering wheel, she got clunking. That is not typically the way that stablizer links make noise, usually its noise over bumps, that bad links show that they are bad.

I was thinking that is it was happening on turns that it was the strut rod bushings attached to the carriage shifting back and forth, I had replaced those two bushings with Poly bushings.

Based on Carla's description of the job, I think she means stabilizer links, it is surprising that they would make noise turning the steering wheel however.....

Here is my poly strut rod bushing

LowerControlArminstalled.jpg

Are the strut mount bushings hard to replace?

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Thanks for the clarification, I need to replace mine also, and I have heard that they can be tough to remove..

From my experience, I would say yes. Mine were a prime example of tough to remove. One issue we had was that there is a very thin "nut" formed into the metal on the ends on the side where the ball and bushing are. You are supposed to be able to put a socket on this "nut" to keep the ball from spinning while taking the actual nut off the other side. That little makeshift nut is less than 1/8 inch thick, and rounds out VERY easily. All 4 of them did it. Then you are left having to find something to hold onto the metal shaft itself so you can take the nut off the other side without it spinning.

Also, on the bottom ends the nut is on the backside, and there is little clearance to get a socket on it (let alone an impact as we were using). Once you do get something on it, then there is almost no room to turn it. After fighting with them for quite some time, we gave up and took a torch to the nuts on the passenger side, and a grinder to the ones on the driver side. Would have used the torch on both sides, but the hoses for it wouldn't reach all the way around the car.

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Strut rod bushings (the blue bushing in the above photo), requires that the control arm be removed, the ball joint needs to be broken loose and the 2 control arm bolts need to be removed. Not a hard job with the right tools

The strut mounts, require the strut assembly to be removed and broken down like when you did your springs, the strut mounts sit on top of the springs. I had an alignment shop swap my new springs in, after stupidly trying to us spring compressors, dangerous job...without the right equipment

Here is a diagram of the strut, the mount is #2

Exploded_Strut_Assembly.jpg

Pre-1995 - DTC codes OBD1  >>

1996 and newer - DTC codes OBD2 >> https://www.obd-codes.com/trouble_codes/gm/obd_codes.htm

How to check for codes Caddyinfo How To Technical Archive >> http://www.caddyinfo.com/wordpress/cadillac-how-to-faq/

Cadillac History & Specifications Year by Year  http://www.motorera.com/cadillac/index.htm

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Strut rod bushings (the blue bushing in the above photo), requires that the control arm be removed, the ball joint needs to be broken loose and the 2 control arm bolts need to be removed. Not a hard job with the right tools

The strut mounts, require the strut assembly to be removed and broken down like when you did your springs, the strut mounts sit on top of the springs. I had an alignment shop swap my new springs in, after stupidly trying to us spring compressors, dangerous job...without the right equipment

Here is a diagram of the strut, the mount is #2

Exploded_Strut_Assembly.jpg

Thanks. The strut rod bushings are something I should look at a little more thoroughly.

The spring seats and insulators are all fine. Those were checked out when I had the springs changed and there was nothing wrong with any of them, which was surprising considering the driver side spring had an entire coil broken off of it.

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