1997 Saturn SL1 4 cyl Front Wheel Drive Automatic 136000 miles
I have a 97 Saturn SL1 with the SOHC and automatic transmission. For the past couple of weeks I have noticed a horrible noise from the front end. Sometimes it sounds like a rattle from behind the dash and steering column, but most of the time it sounds like a loud thud sound. I hear the thud or popping mostly when I turn left, but I have heard it when turning right also. The thud sound seems to come from the front passenger side area. Now I have already replaced the lower ball joint on the front passenger side because it was bad. I have also replaced both outer tie rod ends for both sides. I saw no reason to replace the inner tie rods or the lower ball joint on the driver side because they seemed to be functioning well. I have also replaced the strut and upper strut mount on the front passenger side area. This did not fix the problem; however, I did notice something that wasn't very reassuring. When I got the strut assembly off the car, I noticed the three holes in the fender well for the strut to mount were larger, as if the bolts that run through the holes had been rubbing against one side of the hole and acting as a file thus eating away at the metal and oversizing the hole. I mounted the new strut using larger washers and torqued the nuts considerably tight to prevent it from sliding. Anyhow, the noise still remains. I'm telling you it is loud. I also notice if I make a hard left turn at a slow speed the car will turn smooth at first and then it seems to suddenly "jerk" into the turn as if compensating for something. I'm certain all these noises are steering related but sometimes I can hear the rattle and thud sound while going straight. If I hit a speed bump between 5-10 mph I will hear the thud as well. This problem is throwing me off. I would think the popping sound when turning left would be a CV joint but the fact I hear it at certain times while going straight and hear it because I hit a bump makes me think suspension but since I already replaced the strut and strut mount on the front passenger side I have to lean more towards steering. I've tested the car sitting still and turning the steering wheel left and right but it does Not make the noise. It only does it when moving and is louder when turning or hitting rough bumps.
I've been at this for two weeks now and though I have suspicions I've only minimally encountered these problems since I don't make a living working on cars. I really need some ideas or opinions from people more experienced. Please tell me what you believe the problem may be. I have been under the car so many times in blistering cold weather and I can not visually see any problems. I'll get under the car again if I have to, I just need to know the best place to start. Thank you.
have the same problem?
Sunday, December 20th, 2009 AT 12:11 AM