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Hello. I have a 2002 2WD T&C with 146K miles and 3.8L engine. I hear a clunking noise from the front when going over bumps, such as speed bumps. I don't go fast over them. The van still handles fine, and I don't detect any abnormal bounce. I suspect the noise is coming from the front struts, but I would like others' opinion. I got an estimate from a shop to replace both front struts (Monroe 181572) at $198 each, $222 labor, and $89.99 for alignment. My questions are: 1. Does the clunking noise indicate failing/failed struts? 2. Does the estimate I obtained seem reasonable? Thanks in advance.
 

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2009 Dodge Grand Caravan SXT (3.8); 2003 Dodge Grand Caravan eL (3.8)
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Check the sway bar bushings and sway bar links first, they are a very common cause for the clunking you describe.
 
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Check the sway bar bushings and sway bar links first, they are a very common cause for the clunking you describe.
By grabbing the top of the drivers door opening (not door itself) and rocking the van side to side while listening for a clunk or groan... (from the van, not yourself :) )
 

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The Shops love selling you struts every 50,000 miles if they can get away with it. Many good struts are needlessly replaced. Original struts on both my vans.

My approach to solving the problem is to forget about struts for the time being.
- any work done related to sway bar links recently? The nuts on the links can back off and result in loud clunking noises. Worn, rusted links can also create loud clunking noises.

- sway bar bushings are a common source of noise, be in squeaking, creaking, or clunking depending on which bushing is installed i.e. blue, black, or black with nylon insert.

Please let us know about any front end work done recently.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks for the information, everyone. I have not had any work done on the front end, other than brakes and rotors. I'll try rocking the van and listen for any clunking noises.
 

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I've made many attempts at curing this issue with my 2005, from strut replacement to end links and about five different types of sway bar bushings. I've installed the Moog and Delco blue bushings, Moog "problem solvers" and OE Mopar (with and without the nylon inserts). The noise persisted. Last summer I had the van on ramps for an oil change (full weight on front wheels) and had my boy bounce and rock the front end. Lo and behold, I could clearly see the sway bar bouncing and hear it banging within the bushings. There was a massive amount of play. Since I tried almost every other brand, I ordered the bushing and bracket kit (Dorman 928-306) from Rock Auto. Upon installation I noticed both the bushings and brackets fit much more "snugly" than the others. Torqued to 50 lb-ft and for the first time since 2011 all of the banging and clunking was gone...and remains gone to this day. If possible for you, get the front end on ramps or something similar and put eyeballs on the bushings (and end links for that matter) while someone rocks the front end. You might be in for a sub-$20.00 fix.

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks for the great info! I did the rock test, and I could hear a clunking noise which seemingly came from the right front. I'll get it up on a lift and check the bushings and the sway bar links.
 

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Always change the bracket, they wear out here:
This is great information and I was thinking that Caramann99 did advise me this when I changed mine as well.
Another thing to note, as I was reading CaptW above, is that I found that how the bushing is installed is also VERY important.
You will get a pair of hard rubber bushing to replace that are clamped to the firewall. It is important that when you replace these, that the split in the bushing goes into the clamp side and not on the firewall side.
New bushings with the split installed incorrectly towards the firewall will probably clunk within three miles or four pot holes (whichever occurs first)

You may even find new ones that have been installed incorrectly and may be able to simply flip them over and swap sides. * they are only about $20 USD.
 

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Within one of my previous vehicles, its rear sway bar bushings wore out. Its older age plastic bushings had oval holes instead of round holes. Like many, I replaced it plastic bushings with Heavy Duty replacements. Before installing, I also install grease ZERKs in each steel bushing bracket and drilled small hole into the new bushing. This created a path for the injected grease to follow. At every engine oil/filter change, I simply applied 3 grease gun handle squirts, then wiped away the older grease - that was pushed out its joints. Since installing better than store bought replacement bushings, it never had a rear end thumping problem again.

re: Picture at https://www.suspension.com/prodimages/energy-suspension/9.5158/360/energy-suspension-9.5158-360-giant-01-01.jpg

Note: Above drill down picture is "store bought" solution. Being an Engineer, I often create my own solution / at lower cost than store bought.

Hope this helps with your vehicle's front end bushing replacement...
 

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This is great information and I was thinking that Caramann99 did advise me this when I changed mine as well.
Another thing to note, as I was reading CaptW above, is that I found that how the bushing is installed is also VERY important.
You will get a pair of hard rubber bushing to replace that are clamped to the firewall. It is important that when you replace these, that the split in the bushing goes into the clamp side and not on the firewall side.
New bushings with the split installed incorrectly towards the firewall will probably clunk within three miles or four pot holes (whichever occurs first)

You may even find new ones that have been installed incorrectly and may be able to simply flip them over and swap sides. * they are only about $20 USD.
Depends on which sway bar bushing you use. Mopar bushings and MOOG insert bushings - slit toward back. MOOG blue bushing - slit toward down. Another way to tell is that the indents in the bushings have to correspond to those in the brackets.

MOOG bushings usually have instructions.
 
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A suspension clunk in front is extremely common on T&C/Caravans. If you plan on replacing anything up front, I'm sure you'll find the inner tie rods are worn (and the steering rack probably leaks). I urge everyone to check the control arm bushings before replacing any suspension or steering components. Or you'll be replacing these again if the control arm bushings are worn. See below.

https://youtu.be/_aE5ESl9TfA

-Markfothebeast-(www.youtube.com/markfothebeast)
 

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Thanks for the information, everyone. I have not had any work done on the front end, other than brakes and rotors. I'll try rocking the van and listen for any clunking noises.
I
my van started wth clunking after having the brakes done.... coincidence? Or bad workmanship? Since then I have replaced both control arms and and sway bar bushings. Still clunking. But not as much.
 

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I
my van started wth clunking after having the brakes done.... coincidence? Or bad workmanship? Since then I have replaced both control arms and and sway bar bushings. Still clunking. But not as much.
The nuts on the end links can loosen up on their own. clunk, clunk.
 

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I
my van started wth clunking after having the brakes done.... coincidence? Or bad workmanship? Since then I have replaced both control arms and and sway bar bushings. Still clunking. But not as much.
Hello CookHHI,
I have a similar experience.
I did a four wheel brake job and afterwards, I get a noise somewhere between a *click and a *clunk when I apply the brake. Mine does not happen all the time, meaning not at every braking...

Another thing frustrating is that I can't seem to replicate the noise with any reliability.
I always (usually) notice it after backing out of the driveway and then shift to forward... the next braking gives me a subtle clunk that feels like it is under the drivers foot.

I thought if it happens after I back up, that I should be able to replicate, but no. I've not been able to replicate the noise with any reliability. Even trying to replicate it by repeatedly backing out of my driveway!
 

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Check the upper strut mount big nut, inside the recess of the mount. Wiper tray may not allow you to see it, and have to get creative. If it loosens a little, it can wobble sideways or front/back when changing direction and cause a clunk. If left long enough it can wear the hole out bigger and change your camber, making the vehicle wander or to be unstable. Then you need to replace upper strut mounts, which is a job.
 
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