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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Well, I'm at a loss here. I've had this clunk coming from the front passenger side of my 2004 since I bought it. It only occurs at low speed going over bumps and pits, but it's very loud and pronounced when it happens. At this point, I've gone through all the suspension components I can think of and it's still there. I'm thinking maybe it's a motor mount--never heard a bad motor mount make noise like this--or even a wheel bearing--again, never heard of such a thing, but I'm at a loss.

I've replaced:

1. Struts completely

2. Control arms, including all bushings and ball joint

3. Inner and outer tie rods

4. Sway bar bushings and end links

I thought maybe it was the splash guard for the belts, as it doesn't hold together great and kind of flops around, so I both put new pins in it and removed it completely and the clunk persists.

Is there something I'm missing? Could it be a bad CV? The axles seem to be in fine shape, boots are older, but they're not ripped and leaking grease, but they could just be original to the vehicle? I was happy to replace all the parts I did, as they all needed it anyway, but I don't want to throw more parts at the problem and not resolve it at this point.

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Drivin' Maniac
2002 Grand Caravan ES 3.8L
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Are you positive that the sway bar end links are tight? A bit of looseness can result in a CLUNK but would be difficult to diagnose (unless you disconnected both sides for a test drive). They can be difficult to tighten fully. (which is why I like the MOOG brand links, they have a proper hex on the inner side)

Did you replace the upper strut mount bearings?

Are you positive the noise is coming from the front and not the rear?

I've never heard of a bad CV causing a clunk as you describe.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Are you positive that the sway bar end links are tight? A bit of looseness can result in a CLUNK but would be difficult to diagnose (unless you disconnected both sides for a test drive). They can be difficult to tighten fully. (which is why I like the MOOG brand links, they have a proper hex on the inner side)

Did you replace the upper strut mount bearings?

Are you positive the noise is coming from the front and not the rear?

I've never heard of a bad CV causing a clunk as you describe.
I'll have to double-check the end links, as Jeepman previously mentioned they can back off, but this was the first drive since install. Tops were torqued correctly, bottoms were as tight as I could get them by hand, as my torque wrench wouldn't fit. End links are Detroit Axle and they also have the nut to tighten properly.

Struts are completely new assemblies from KYB, top to bottom.

I'm fairly sure the clunk is from the front, as it's particularly pronounced when sitting on the passenger side front. The rear has it's own noises, as the track bar and leaf spring bushings are worn.

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I'm a bit "down" on the KYB struts for our application. I've always been happy with KYB in the past and I like the stiffness and ride height, but I just can't keep them quiet and functioning properly. I've got a 2005 with KYB struts and a similar sounding clunk on the driver's side. Replaced the driver side strut once due to the lower spring pad "popping out" and, so far, the pad has stayed in place on the replacement; however, I still have a similar clunk that I'm pretty sure is the strut.

I really think the spring on the SR4039 might just be too short and not provide significant resistance at full extension? If I go over a bump that causes the front end to rise to what is at or close to full extension on the struts, then I seem to get a hard "impact" jolt on the driver side as the front end comes back down. Again, thinking the spring is simply not resisting and strut is "locking" momentarily due to rapid compression as the front end comes back down... causing an excessive jolt. Figure this may also explain how the lower pad escaped on the first one... particularly if the center nut was loose at the time to make the problem worse.

One thing to check is the strut rod center nut being tight as my experience with the KYBs is that the strut rod nut tends to back off, ending up loose and causing some noise on bumps. Ended up snugging them with an impact wrench and that seems to have helped, but my front left noise/jolt on larger jounces is something else.

Just out of curiosity, do you remember what part number was placed on what side of the van? I've got SR4038 on the front right (passenger) side and SR4039 on the front left (driver) side, so it's the SR4039 I'm having issues with. With center rod nut tightened, SR4038 seems to be happy on the passenger side. Thought maybe I had them installed on the wrong sides initially, but I followed up with KYB tech support on this and, following that conversation, it does appear I have them where KYB intended them to be.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I'm a bit "down" on the KYB struts for our application. I've always been happy with KYB in the past and I like the stiffness and ride height, but I just can't keep them quiet and functioning properly. I've got a 2005 with KYB struts and a similar sounding clunk on the driver's side. Replaced the driver side strut once due to the lower spring pad "popping out" and, so far, the pad has stayed in place on the replacement; however, I still have a similar clunk that I'm pretty sure is the strut.

I really think the spring on the SR4039 might just be too short and not provide significant resistance at full extension? If I go over a bump that causes the front end to rise to what is at or close to full extension on the struts, then I seem to get a hard "impact" jolt on the driver side as the front end comes back down. Again, thinking the spring is simply not resisting and strut is "locking" momentarily due to rapid compression as the front end comes back down... causing an excessive jolt. Figure this may also explain how the lower pad escaped on the first one... particularly if the center nut was loose at the time to make the problem worse.

One thing to check is the strut rod center nut being tight as my experience with the KYBs is that the strut rod nut tends to back off, ending up loose and causing some noise on bumps. Ended up snugging them with an impact wrench and that seems to have helped, but my front left noise/jolt on larger jounces is something else.

Just out of curiosity, do you remember what part number was placed on what side of the van? I've got SR4038 on the front right (passenger) side and SR4039 on the front left (driver) side, so it's the SR4039 I'm having issues with. With center rod nut tightened, SR4038 seems to be happy on the passenger side. Thought maybe I had them installed on the wrong sides initially, but I followed up with KYB tech support on this and, following that conversation, it does appear I have them where KYB intended them to be.
Interesting, but I'm thinking it's probably not the struts, as the clunk was there when I bought the vehicle with the original struts and then persisted in exactly the same manner with the new struts.

I did, in fact, purchase the SR4039/8 and the 8 being the passenger front and the 9 being driver front, so they are definitely on the correct sides.

But I may go back and see if I can torque the center nut and see if that solves the problem, as you mentioned. I think I recall reading that it's like 175ft lbs.

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Front suspension low-speed clunking on mine has always boiled down to the sway bar bushings, the end links, the strut center nut being loose, and/or the strut spring seat being out of place.

Only other bushings I can think of in the front suspension triangle would be the front suspension cradle bushings between cradle frame and body, but I've not heard of anyone complaining about that being a source of noise. Might be worth taking a peak at them though...

Just for grins, check the bottom spring cushion on the strut to make sure it hasn't "squirted" out from under the spring, allowing the spring to contact the metal strut seat directly... which is what happened on my first SR4039, causing spring to metal seat clunking.

Here's a thread with a picture showing normal versus "popped" lower spring seat... coincidentally, also on KYBs:

Front Strut Lower Isolator Bushing Moved | The Chrysler Minivan Fan Club Forums
 

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Sway bar bushing selection has always been a great topic of debate as well regarding noises.

Personally, I have the MOOG K200601s on mine and have been happy with them.

I've attached a MOOG ProblemSolver bulletin regarding our sway bar bushings.

And here's much related discussion:

 

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And, these other MOOG problem solvers show that there have been numerous revisions to these bushings in attempts of solving this issue. Interestingly, you can even see a difference in the K200601 shown in these PDFs versus the one I posted earlier. Moog is bad about changing the design without changing the part numbers... which I've also experienced with their end-link design changing while the part number remained the same.
 

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Chrysler has tried many versions of the sway bar bushings, one even having a fabric type interface bonded to the bushing so it would grab the sway bar. Once the problem starts in earnest, a new sway bar with Mopar bushings is the likely solution, IMO. MOOG is not a "problem solver" either. Probably more of a problem in the salted road areas.

It's suppose to be a compression bond interface based on various sway bar assembly designs (at least 4).

Maybe the hard polyurethane bushings with their special lubricant will work but no compression and additional dampening with those.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Went ahead and looked around this morning and the seats for the struts look fine, so I went ahead and hit the sway bar bushings with some lithium grease wherever I could. It sat for a couple of hours before my wife decide to take it this afternoon, so I asked her to listen for the clunk, so we'll see what happens here when she returns.



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Beardy, unless you opened up the bushings, you didn't do anything, which is why I said to spray away with a 'liquidy' lubricant. You need to get between the rubber and the sway bar and the rubber and the clamp.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Beardy, unless you opened up the bushings, you didn't do anything, which is why I said to spray away with a 'liquidy' lubricant. You need to get between the rubber and the sway bar and the rubber and the clamp.
Ah ok, good to know. Well, guess it'll have to wait until I've got up on stands again and the time to take it off and give it a spray.

Makes sense then, wife says it was still clunking.

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Make sure the links are checked before doing anything. The stud has be held firmly while the nut is tightened to 55 ft lbs or whatever is called for.
 

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I installed "torque nuts" on my sway bar links on the end which connects to the sway bar and solved a noise. The "torque nuts" look like lug nuts with a cone area but are smaller. They fit tightly into the sway bar and prevent noise there. The holes in the sway bar ends are worn out and oversize and caused a clunk noise. I got the nuts at a hardware store.
 

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Beardy, if you've got something like WD40, which is runny, you can just crawl under and spray away. If it works, then take it apart, clean it up, and then lubricate with rubber safe grease. Silicone is rubber safe.
 

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Mopar markets no lubricant for the sway bar bushings. None, zilch, nada! The known procedure is to install dry. There was a time when they had a white paste (lubricant?) between the rubber and the nylon insert. That didn't work either and was only available for a short time.

The bushing is subjected to rotational and linear twisting from the sway bar. The bar is always trying to break the bushing's grip. Increased suspension travel with older worn parts may be the straw that breaks the camel's back. It's a borderline design for sure. The bushings on my Jeep are original and working well, not even a squeak, and that suspension has lots of travel to it. Just a better design, larger bushings, longer arms, the bushings are actually sitting on the front bumper.

New brackets may help. The problem is really with developing sufficient compression bond, in a neutral position (use ramps, not jacks), between the insert and the sway bar.

Using say Fluid Film, sprayed into the bushing, will quiet it down (while loosening up the suspension), for a couple months (maybe). That has worked for me, but a new bar and/or brackets is likely the best long term solution solution.

One could add a grease fitting and hole to get lubricant to the bar. Some sway bar systems have that.

Sway bar systems:
 
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Mopar markets no lubricant for the sway bar bushings. None, zilch, nada! The known procedure is to install dry. There was a time when they had a white paste (lubricant?) between the rubber and the nylon insert. That didn't work either and was only available for a short time.

The bushing is subjected to rotational and linear twisting from the sway bar. The bar is always trying to break the bushing's grip. Increased suspension travel with older worn parts may be the straw that breaks the camel's back. It's a borderline design for sure. The bushings on my Jeep are original and working well, not even a squeak, and that suspension has lots of travel to it. Just a better design, larger bushings, longer arms, the bushings are actually sitting on the front bumper.

New brackets may help. The problem is really with developing sufficient compression bond, in a neutral position (use ramps, not jacks), between the insert and the sway bar.

Using say Fluid Film, sprayed into the bushing, will quiet it down (while loosening up the suspension), for a couple months (maybe). That has worked for me, but a new bar and/or brackets is likely the best long term solution solution.

One could add a grease fitting and hole to get lubricant to the bar. Some sway bar systems have that.
Some polyurethane brands recommend a special lubricant (that they also sell, what convenient). My question is, if regular bushings doesn't need any lubricant, why the tougher bushings needs it?
 

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Some polyurethane brands recommend a special lubricant (that they also sell, what convenient). My question is, if regular bushings doesn't need any lubricant, why the tougher bushings needs it?
That's a tricky question. Maybe Marvinstockman knows. :)
 

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Drivin' Maniac
2002 Grand Caravan ES 3.8L
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Poly bushings don't twist like rubber. That is why they require lubrication. The bar rotates inside poly bushings, instead of twisting.

The minivan's retainer brackets for the sway bar bushings have a tang and only one bolt. Last time I changed mine I added rubber (inner tube material) between the bushing and bracket to tighten them up, I think I re-formed (AKA bent) the tangs as well.
 
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