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Front end clunking


17 replies to this topic

#1 The Haverstraw Man

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Posted February 28, 2012 at 06:44 pm

iI bought a 2007 PT for my daughter while she was at college in 2008, 27,000. Now has 92,000. I always changed the oil with full synthetic because she was attending college in Atlanta Ga. and I knew it would not be changed at the 3,000 mile intervals. The car has been to New Orleans twice, Key West, Miami Florida and driven weekly from Atlanta to Birmingham Al for the years she was at school. Now she is back home in NY.

Today I had to have the passenger side tie rod end replaced the other side was still rock solid. The car has a clunk hitting the slightest bump. The mechanic said the bushing in the upper part of the strut was bad on both sides. I got under the car and looked at every busing and bolt I could find and could not find any loose bolts or torn (worn) bushings.

I did the bounce test and everything is tight. Is it likely the bushings in the struts are bad? The car got an alignment with the replacement of th etie rod end. Is there anyway to check the bushings or is it just replace and see?

#2 ImperialCrown

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Posted February 28, 2012 at 07:11 pm

An upper strut bushing noise would sound like it was coming from in front of, and level with the dashboard while you were driving.
If you are hearing it from the floor area at or in front of your feet, it may be the lower control arm bushings clunking against the crossmember. The rubber 'donut' slips out of its steel ring when the bonding gives way and comes to rest on the crossmember at the rear portion of the front control arm. It is not a dangerous or tire-wearing issue, just mostly annoying. A hard rubber 'shim' shoved between the bushing shell and crossmember will silence the clunking.
It may only be heard on one side.

#3 Bob Lincoln

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Posted February 28, 2012 at 07:34 pm

Strut bearings (not bushings) are inside the top of the strut assembly (in the strut mount) and are not visible when it's assembled. When they wear out and start causing noise, they typically do not add play to the steering, and they still pass the bounce test. They sound somewhat like wooden blocks clapping together, or wood against hard rubber, at the slightest road imperfection. It's not a safety issue, but a nuisance and an indication that the entire strut assembly should be replaced. I wasn't sure what the noise was with my last car, and drove it another 80K miles before I had the struts changed, and then the noise went away.

#4 chuzz

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Posted February 28, 2012 at 07:37 pm

I'm not familiar with the PT, but if it has a sway bar, it could also be the sway bar busings or the sway bar end links.

#5 ImperialCrown

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Posted February 29, 2012 at 04:01 am

The PT front suspension is similar to Neon from which it was derived. Sway bushing and link noises would also be heard at the floorboard area in front of you.

Edited by ImperialCrown, February 29, 2012 at 04:01 am.


#6 The Haverstraw Man

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Posted February 29, 2012 at 11:53 pm

This noise seems to be high up and not down low. I have looked on rockauto and they have several complete units listed. Does anyone have a recomendation on a good replacement. I plan on installing new ones myself...the noise is very anoying.

#7 Bob Lincoln

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Posted March 1, 2012 at 09:09 am

If you replace struts, I strongly recommend against Gabriel. I bought defective ones, they would not fit properly in the coil spring. I have also had their shocks crumble to dust within 4 years. Monroe, KYB, Bilstein all are good.

#8 The Haverstraw Man

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Posted March 16, 2012 at 11:56 am

I purchased a pair of Monroe replacement struts (complete assembly) by mail order. After I get them installed I post about the noise.

#9 gmaur

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Posted March 19, 2012 at 12:51 pm

I have this problem with my 2006 PT Cruiser. The dealer replaced the swaybar bushings. The noise is still there. What next?

#10 ImperialCrown

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Posted March 19, 2012 at 01:19 pm

Something may be loose or worn. Is it a rubbery thump, a knocking over bumps or a clatter? Does it sound like it is coming from under your feet?
If the dealer just replaced sway bushings for the noise, I would let them drive it with you so you can point it out to them and get their opinion on what it is.

Edited by ImperialCrown, March 19, 2012 at 01:22 pm.


#11 gmaur

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Posted March 19, 2012 at 01:33 pm

Something may be loose or worn. Is it a rubbery thump, a knocking over bumps or a clatter? Does it sound like it is coming from under your feet?
If the dealer just replaced sway bushings for the noise, I would let them drive it with you so you can point it out to them and get their opinion on what it is.


It's a general clatter, coming from under the front end.

The dealership said they drove it and it sounded fine to them. I said, I just left your dealership and went to a shopping center, drove over the speed bump and the noise is still there. They informed me they have no speed bumps near the dealership so they wouldn't know about that. The rest of the story is far worse, so no I won't be going back to the same dealer.

#12 ImperialCrown

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Posted March 19, 2012 at 02:37 pm

If it goes away during braking, it may be loose front brake pads. The front control arm rear bushings can slip down and rest against the crossmember, causing a clatter over bumps.

#13 gmaur

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Posted March 19, 2012 at 03:18 pm

If it goes away during braking, it may be loose front brake pads. The front control arm rear bushings can slip down and rest against the crossmember, causing a clatter over bumps.


Thanks for that, I'll check on it.

#14 The Haverstraw Man

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Posted March 20, 2012 at 06:25 pm

The difference is night and day. I installed a pair of Monroe Econo-matic complete replacements today. The noise is completely gone. It feels and sounds like a different car. I have never heard of strut bearing before or known anyone else that have had bad ones. Mine were bad. Replacing strut assembly took about two hours to do both sides, you have to unbolt the torsion bar at the frame supported by a floor jack to enought clearence to remove the stut assembly. I wish I had some spring compressors so I could take the old struts apart and see the bearings, but I don't.

Thanks to everyone that posted.

#15 twinkie19

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Posted June 17, 2012 at 08:25 pm

I recently bought a 2003 PT Cruiser and when I bought it the owners had said that the front passenger strut had recently gone bad which wasn't a problem for me because I knew that it wouldn't be a hard fix. I replaced the passenger strut and mount along with the ball joint and wheel bearing, but it is still making a clunking noise after driving over a bump.

What could be causing the noise?

#16 Cudapete

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Posted June 18, 2012 at 09:36 pm

Lower control arm bushing

#17 ImperialCrown

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Posted June 19, 2012 at 03:16 am

If it is the lower control arm bushing, you will see that the rubber bushing has slipped out of it's bond with the metal shell. The metal shell will rest against the crossmember and rattle over bumps. Quite common.

#18 Bens90W150

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Posted July 22, 2012 at 07:58 am

I am very glad to know about the strut bearing being a dash board level noise. That confirms that mine is a problem. I know one man said that he drove for 80000 miles with bad strut bearings. Why would they be a safety issue, like bad upper ball joints?


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