Step by step guide on how to repair automotive clunking noises. This article pertains to all non-electric vehicles.

Difficulty Scale: 4 of 10

Tools and Supplies Needed

  • Flashlight
  • Socket set
  • Wrench set
  • Protective eyewear and clothing
  • Shop towels

Begin inspection with the vehicle on level ground with the emergency brake "ON" with the engine "OFF".

Step 1 - The brake pads and calipers are designed to slow the vehicle when applied. If the caliper is loose or if the brake pads are not fitted properly they will make a clunking noise when the brakes are applied. Visit - Brake pad replacement

Step 2 - An engine mount is designed to hold the engine and transmission in place. When these mounts fail it will allow the engine to rise up when accelerating, and then falling back down on deceleration. Its this falling back into place which produces the clunking sound. To inspect for this condition the car will need to be lifted and the engine mounts inspected. Look for separation of the rubber and metal mounts that hold the mount together. If separation is detected, the mount must be replaced.

Step 3 - Struts and shocks are created with hydraulic dampening valves which fail causing a clunking noise. To test for this condition disassemble strut assembly and check for excessive strut movement, if strut is easily moved (low resistance) replacement is needed. A spring compressor is required for this service.


Helpful Information

When a clunking noise is detected first locate the area of the vehicle its being generated from which could by many things from a loose strut or shock to a worn out sway bar mount. Once a clunking sound has been located a repair is needed to avoid additional damage.


Written by
Co-Founder and CEO of
35 years in the automotive repair field, ASE Master Technician, Advanced Electrical and Mechanical Theory.


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Article first published