Annoying clunk/rattle in steering

Discussion in 'Suspension, Steering and Chassis' started by dartman59, Aug 14, 2012.

  1. dartman59

    dartman59 FABO Gold Member FABO Gold Member

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    I feel like I'm missing something important, and I can't figure this out. I have a rattle in my steering (at least that's where I think it's coming from), that seems like a "clunk" and a "rattle" combined. It's most prevalent when travelling over uneven pavement at moderate speeds (20-35 mph). It can be heard inside the car and outside the car.

    The ride? 1971 Dodge Dart, manual steering, three speed, column shift. I have tried wiggling the steering wheel (it's tight), wiggling the steering coupler (it's tight), the box is tight to the K frame. I've tried putting pressure on the shift lever when hitting bumps, thinking maybe the noise is in the shifting linkages, but makes no difference.

    Eventually, I'm swapping in a four speed and floor-shift column, but that's not scheduled until at least next year. Until then, I gotta figure this one out. Oh yeah--one last clue--the noise is getting worse. First noticed it about 1500 miles ago. This is my daily driver this time of year. It used to happen only when hitting a medium- to large-sized pothole. Now, simply rough, uneven pavement will cause the rattle. And I live in New England, so there is no shortage of crappy roads around here. The fact that it is getting worse is a big concern ...

    I've been assuming it's bushings or bearings in the steering column, but again, everything seems tight enough--no slop noticed. Don't want to blindly replace those if there is a simpler or more appropriate approach.

    Any and all ideas and tips appreciated!
     
  2. 78kitcar

    78kitcar Well-Known Member

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    Check your front suspension ...tie rods,ball joints, bushings..........ect
     
  3. RedFish

    RedFish Well-Known Member

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    If you took it somewhere for alignment they would check all the parts and tell you what they need to replace. In many cases it is best to let them replace the worn out parts.
     
  4. TrailBeast

    TrailBeast Slightly Twisted Member

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    Have someone turn the steering wheel back and forth with a little force while you watch and listen underneath the front end and you'll find it.
    Ball joints at the hubs can seem tight, but they are under a load when sitting so it's hard to tell.
    At the shop we used to use a big screwdriver or small prybar between the control arm and hub to chk for movement in the ball joints.
     
  5. mcnoople

    mcnoople Well-Known Member

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    Loose wheel/wheel bearings?
     
  6. TexasDart

    TexasDart Well-Known Member

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    Do you have disk brakes? My caliper was loose and it drove me crazy trying to find out the clunking...tell I pulled my wheels and found the loose caliper bracket. Glad I found it when I did. Now no more clunkin at slow speeds.
     
  7. dartman59

    dartman59 FABO Gold Member FABO Gold Member

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    Hmmmm . . . All good ideas, indeed. But all my front suspension components are new, and the disc brakes are new also. BUT, I will check everything over the weekend, including the possibility of a loose caliper, but I don't think that's it.

    The noise seems to use the steering column as a "conduit" for telegraphing the sound into the cockpit. So, I feel it's a steering-related issue although I will try to keep an open mind.
     
  8. TrailBeast

    TrailBeast Slightly Twisted Member

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    Do you have a front sway bar?
    If so make sure all the grommets and bushings are there.


     
  9. 6pk2goDemon

    6pk2goDemon Mopar Mod Staff Member FABO Gold Member

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    X2 possibly on what TexasDart mentions. Drive the car so it makes the noise/rattle, then gently apply the brakes. If the noise goes away, check your brake mounting bolts, clips, etc.
     
  10. dartman59

    dartman59 FABO Gold Member FABO Gold Member

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    Well, I have to say that it never occured to me that the noise may be due to my brakes. I'll give it a try today, and see if applying the brakes has any influence on the rattle. BTW--no sway bar.
     
  11. 78kitcar

    78kitcar Well-Known Member

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    I cant imagine this noise coming from the the steering column.....not to say it's impossible! Did you check the mount at bottom of column where it bolts to floor? Maybe that's loose.........I'm still saying check suspension/brakes.
     
  12. BigBlockMopar

    BigBlockMopar BigBlockMember

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    If you have slider-type brake calipers then that's the most propable cause of the clunking noises like something is loose upfront.
    You'll have to re-bend the holddown tabs so they put a little more pressure on the calipers, keeping them seated better.
    You can also reapply some hi-temp grease on the slider surfaces while you have it apart.
     
  13. FISHBREATH

    FISHBREATH Well-Known Member

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    Is the noise constant? Does it also occur when turning? Does speed have an effect on the noise?
     
  14. dartman59

    dartman59 FABO Gold Member FABO Gold Member

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    OK--first off, my front brakes are pin-type, large diameter. Today, I paid extra attention to the noise. It still does the noise when applying the brakes. And, despite anything I've said earlier, the sound seems to be inside the car, even though it can be heard outside the car. I'm going to break things down this weekend and see if I can get to the bottom of this. It's driving me nuts! I'll report on anything I find. Thanks for all the ideas.
     
  15. OzzyDuster

    OzzyDuster New Member

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    I too have an annoying clunk that seems like it’s in the steering column in my ‘71 Duster. And like yourself do not want to blindly replace the column bearings/bushes. Was there any fix to your car?
     
  16. OzzyDuster

    OzzyDuster New Member

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    Thought I’d mention: Non-Power Steering. I was told the column is out of a ‘76 Volare. The sound seems to only when when turning into a driveway. That initial bump and incline. I’ve also been to a wheel align guy that could find no fault in the front end.