Lucasso: I'm curious if you ever got any resolution to your popping noise, either diagnosed preventatively by a professional or something definitively failing. I have a 2002 Chevy S-10 Automatic as well with almost the exact same mileage as you, however mine is an extended cab and has the engageable 4WD. I am also experiencing a popping noise (usually between 1 and 4 distinctly seperated pops when it occurs, which is at speeds above 5-10 mph, when going through turns or over bumps. The pops seem to be coming from the rear of the vehicle but, as the Click and Clack say, "sounds travel" so I could be wrong on this location. The sounds are more distinct and occur more regularly at higher speeds or sharper turns, but I'm in Arizona so I can't speak to your effect of colder temperatures.
SWilliams: I VERY rarely use the 4WD (perhaps less than 100 of the total miles put on the truck) so I'm fairly confident my problem stems from the components of Lucasso's and my trucks that are the same. I was able to get down under the truck and inspect the rear wheels but see no breaks or problems in the mounts or suspension that would be obvious to a mechanical novice. As more background information, I know my truck has so far behaved fairly normally for the mechanical issues that are common to it's model year. Right on schedule (according to Automotive Information Systems), my fuel pump has needed replaced and my ABS sensor went bad. My major concern for this noise is weighing the "safety vs. Cost" of repairing the most likely mechanical problems that could be producing this noise. While you named quite a few potential problems Lucasso could be facing, I don't know a) how many of those fit my symptoms or b) which causes of this noise could be life-threatening to the remaining years on car or driver if a diagnosis and repair is postponed due to cost.
Thanks in advance.
Thursday, September 15th, 2011 AT 7:28 PM