Mechanics

CLUNKING NOISE

1998 Honda Accord

Suspension problem
1998 Honda Accord 4 cyl Front Wheel Drive Automatic 118000 miles

I have recently replaced both front upper control arms (ball joint issues), all four struts, and all four sway bar end links. This work has all been done in an attempt to fix clunking noises coming from both the front and rear suspension. Initially the problem was only in the front. The noise sounds like a hollow clunking, especially when going over dips in the road or slight indentations in the pavement such as manhole covers on asphalted roads.

First I had the front struts replaced which didn't fix the problem. Then I had the front end links replaced which seemed to almost fix the problem. Finally, after taking the car in for an alignment, the front upper right ball joint was determined to be worn and so the control arm was replaced.

After this work and an alignment, the car pulled to the right but the clunking noise was completely gone. I had old tires on it so I just let the pulling go because I planned to get new tires soon and figured that might be the problem.

In the meantime, the rear started making a remarkably similar noise. I had the rear struts and rear end links replaced at the same time. This of eliminated the clunking, but it came back in a couple weeks, although not as bad. I've been meaning to schedule an appointment to have it looked at some more but haven't gotten to it as of yet.

Then, the other day on my way to get new tires put on, the front left suspension collapsed. I had to replace the upper and lower ball joints and the left axel.

So, after new tires and this work another alignment was done. Since it seemed that the worn ball joints on the front were related to the front suspension clunking, I asked the shop to check the rear ball joints when they did the alignment (this car only has lower ball joints in the rear). They didn't notice that they were worn. Also, after the alignment, the car still pulls to the right even with new tires.

My questions are:
1) what could still be causing this pulling and
2) what could be the cause of the clunking in the rear? Could it be the ball joints even though they didn't appear worn?
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Sag2007
May 30, 2008.



Hi sag2007,

When steering pulls to 1 side, the castor or camber are more likely the cause.

If the pull is bad, the castor is more likely.

Upper and lower arm ball joints are in direct relations to the above.

Check the castor bush and front crossmember.

A worn wheel bearing, stuck brake pistons or slider bolts are also possible causes.

Chack for worn steering rack ends and tie rod ends.

KHLow2008
May 30, 2008.
Clunks on front drives can be worn plunger joint(inboard)CV. Or motor, or tranny mounts too.

Merlin2021
May 30, 2008.
Ok. So I had the shop that did the last alignment check it again on 5/30. All the numbers were within the specified tolerances. They did say that on a '98 Accord you can't adjust either the camber or caster (or both?). I don't remember exactly. They adjusted one of the measurements on the right front so that it is very slightly out of range which seems to help. Anyway, my steering wheel is still not centered (turned slightly to the right).

The clunking noise is coming from the rear suspension so I wouldn't think there the problem is with the inboard CV, engine mounts or transmission mounts, right? It is especially noticable when driving over manhole covers in asphalted roads or " waves" in the road such as where a storm drain is located or just where asphalt kind of rolls a little bit. Also, I don't notice any clunking when going over 35 mph really. It's only noticable at lower speeds.

Tiny
Sag2007
Jun 2, 2008.
Have you done the struts yet? With your mileage, your due for the second set now!

Merlin2021
Jun 2, 2008.
Both front struts and end links were replaced in February 2008. Front passenger-side strut was not leaking but had very slow rebound. Both rear struts and end links were replaced in April 2008. Rear passenger-side strut was " blown" according to shop but I didn't get a chance to see the part.

I have an appointment with the shop that did the rear strut replacement tomorrow morning (6/3) to take a look at it again.

Tiny
Sag2007
Jun 2, 2008.
Hi sag2007,

For most Honda, you can't adjust both the camber and castor. Just that worn bushiings and ball joints will cause them go out of spec.

You mentioned a non centralised steering wheel, is that the actual problem that you want solved or the steering tends to pull as if it is trying to turn by itself?

Check and see if both left and right full turn of the steering wheel from dead ahead position are equal.

The steering rack might have been worn at the adjusting cushion and now that your alignment has moved its contact away from the central point, it will try to reseat itself when moving.

Adjust the steering wheel 1 notch to the left and get the alignment done with the steering wheel in the straight ahead position and see if it helps.

You mentioned replacement of the stabilizer end links, was the stabilizer bushes also replaced? They tend to give a clunking noise even if slightly worn.

KHLow2008
Jun 3, 2008.
Well, after the second alignment (where they set the right front caster slightly out of spec) the car tracks straight. It is just that the steering wheel is now slightly turned to the right while the car is moving in a straight line. I'm okay with the alignment for now as it is not a big deal.

After taking the car in this morning, the Honda tech rode around with me for a good 20 minutes. Of course, it was difficult to replicate the clunking noise I hear. I did get it to clunk once or twice and the tech wasn't concerned. He thought it sounded fairly normal. Maybe I'm just being anal.

When the rear struts and end links were replaced, the sway bar bushings were not replaced (I assume you mean the clamp and bushing assembly that attaches the sway bar to the undercarriage). I was actually planning on replacing those myself assuming that I can get the bolts out without shearing them off. As far as I know, they have not been removed for the life of the car.

Thanks for everyone's help.

Tiny
Sag2007
Jun 3, 2008.
Hi sag2007,

To centralise the steering wheel, you need to adjust the right and left tie rod eauqlly, 1 side in and the out.

Yes, the clamp bushes were what I meant.

KHLow2008
Jun 4, 2008.